The puple ink. The evocative aroma. Ah, mimeograph...

Jurassic Park (the first one) owned the box office.  I was teaching at a poverty row college.  Our staff retreats too frequently concluded with faculty appeals to gods and donors for the wherewithal to make payroll.

There’s nothing sexy about a college operating budget.  Folks give to buildings and named scholarship funds, but you just can’t mount a commemorative plaque on a light bill.  So the president unveiled a plan whereby we might “cut our way to prosperity.”  In practical terms:  bring your own coffee to the break room, say goodbye to departmental secretaries, and – for goodness sake – make fewer copies.

The internet was young.  And so was I.  Cut-backs prompted my move of syllabi from Xerox and A.B. Dick (yes, the purple mimeograph with the evocative aroma) to a new form on-line.  In the early 90s, the idea was revolutionary.   I begged for and was begrudgingly permitted a sliver of the school’s server (more about that later).

Hear the rest of the story in this episode of Become the Media:

Questions of design and functionality:

  • Is your syllabus a fit for its medium?  If you’re on-line, could you credibly explain to your students why?
  • If your syllabus is on-line, does it have the non-linear functionality students associate with the websites they frequent?
  • Does your site model the principles of design, rhetoric, privacy, security, and reach you espouse in class?
  • Is your syllabus responsive? Does its code automatically detect and adapt to laptops and mobile devices (by far your students’ preferred way of accessing the web)?
  • Is your website available as a downloadable app?  Should it be?
  • Does your institution or regional accrediting agency require paper copies of syllabi be maintained in departmental files?
  • How interdependent is your syllabus on links to the college website?
  • Do your online course materials include student-created media?  If so, are you permitted to embed it?
  • How is your site archived?

Bigger questions of ownership:

  • Do your institution’s intellectual property policies apply to your syllabus?
  • Should you move to another school or profession, are there obstacles to relocating or reusing your online course materials?
  • Who owns your syllabus?

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