Teaching Students How to Do College: making the syllabus available

A lighthouse shining in twilight as a metaphor for how a syllabus may guide students.
Photo by matthaeus on Unsplash

The syllabus is a useful tool for teaching and learning. If you search for ‘syllabus’ on the Teaching Hub (see the ‘magnifying glass’ in the upper-right corner?), you can find useful insights.  Several faculty have already written on topics related to creating and using a syllabus.

The University of Alabama now uses a syllabus database tool called “Simple Syllabus.” The Center for Instructional Technology has created a must-see page with instructor resources to make good use of the Simple Syllabus platform. It is really easy to get started!

Once you have created and published your syllabus, what’s next? How might your students find an access your syllabus? Ideally, this should be the go-to document that orients students to your course. Doing so avoids all sorts of issues that arise from distributing a “real syllabus” to students while also having something entirely different available through the University’s official platform.

One way forward is to provide a link to your (simple) syllabus within your Blackboard course. The instructions for doing so are easy!

But what about before classes begin? What if a student wishes to see your syllabus before the first day of classes (e.g. to double-check what textbooks to purchase, or other required materials)?

At the moment, it seems there are three ways a student might see your syllabus:

  1. Access UA’s “OSM” website and then use the redirect link to Simple Syllabus.
  2. Find and access UA’s simple syllabus URL.
  3. Find it through the course schedule:
    • Log into mybama.
    • Find the class schedule for the correct term (e.g. summer 2023).
    • Find the class you want, and click on the “CRN number” (in blue font).
    • Find the words “view syllabus,” and click on them.
    • A new window should open with your class syllabus (depending on whether the instructor has “published” the syllabus).

Option #3 involves a lot of steps. If students learn to do this once, they might know how to find their other course syllabi!