Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A syllabus for teaching online

I'm teaching two totally online classes for the first time this summer, and while the majority of the course is pre-packaged and ready to go, I wanted to make a few customizations to make the course easier for students to navigate, and to make it a little more personable.  So I created a video introducing myself (and providing a little bit of cultural information about how not to address teachers in Spanish) and a screencast walking through where everything is located in Blackboard and MySpanishLab.

The syllabus is given to me by the course coordinator, so all I really need to do is fill in my contact information and post it to Blackboard.  But I went to a faculty development workshop a few weeks ago on creating a good syllabus, and learned that there is a syllabus website at the school where I'm adjuncting that generates a web-based syllabus.  The information in the syllabus is the same one way or the other, but in a 10-page document, it's nice to have tabs that you can click that will direct you to the section you're interested in, rather than scrolling through a pdf for days.  So I went in to the site and used it to create my syllabi, and then posted the links in Blackboard, and thought I was all set. But my courses started today, and several students emailed to tell me that the site would not let them in to see the syllabus (it requires a login).  I checked with tech support, and my students are apparently using the appropriate login credentials, but still can't get in.

I would prefer to have my syllabus in a place that doesn't require a login, and obviously I have a little experience setting up websites, but I wasn't sure I had quite enough know-how to create the syllabus site I wanted to make.  In particular, I didn't know how to link navigation tabs to different spots on the site. It turns out that it's pretty easy...you just have to do a little basic HTML editing.  I had no idea what the feature was, but I now know that it's called an anchor tag, and if you google it, you can find the code and modify it, which is how I customize all of my sites.  So armed with this new bit of code, I created a new website for my syllabi this summer:


(I also created a copy of the site and made it a template, available here:

https://sites.google.com/a/anitasaalfeld.com/metrosyllabustemplate/ )

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