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?