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We are currently updating all of our degree and course descriptions to reflect our soon to be released catalog. We are being asked to include the syllabus for each course with its description. The problem is that at least a third of the syllabi are not available. Another problem is that they change frequently and, even though we use a CMS, very few of the changes to these syllabi are ever updated on the web, so they become outdated. I am wondering what value we provide by posting the syllabi. Do other college sites post syllabi? If so, how do you keep them current?

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We have a course resources page which lists all of the courses in our Faculty. For course titles that have a website and/or syllabus, there is a corresponding icon next to the title to indicate this. Every year, before the start of the term, we delete all of the syllabi and email the faculty to request new syllabi for their course listings.

I didn't personally see a value to posting syllabi when students would already be recieving them in class, until it was explained to me by a faculty member that some prospective students will look at the syllabus for the course to get a better idea of the course's curriculum (beyond the brief description in our course calendar) before they decide if they want to register for the course or not. For students that are already registered, it's just a convenient way for them to get another copy of the syllabus if they happen to lose theirs.
Several years ago our college had discussions about posting syllabi online. Some faculty wanted it and some faculty insisted that it was a violation of their copyright to make a syllabus of their's public. One faculty member reported that she had had her syllabus stolen and used by an instructor at another institution. I could never get a ruling on whether or not the college had rights to a faculty member's syllabus or not.

We had concerns about faculty making changes to their syllabus after it was posted and not updating the posted copy. That would cause confusion and possible conflicts over which copy was official. I recall buying books for a class off a posted syllabus and then discovering that the reading list had changed by the first day of class.

We made a ruling that we would post whatever a faculty member wanted, but include a disclaimer declaring that the official syllabus is the one handed out in class and that the one posted was subject to change without notice. It wasn't a great solution.

When we absorbed another college into ours, that college had posted all their syllabi and used them as historic documents the students could then send to other schools if they transferred and needed to prove they had met one requirement or another.

So now we have no policy. The University has a way of making syllabi public, but very few faculty take the time to update them. It's a shame, really.
We created an application that allows faculty to post their syllabi online. These are integrated with the online class schedule. The idea was that students could get a better idea of the course before registering for it.

Participation to date has been mediocre. The problem is that class registration begins several months before the semester actually starts and most faculty haven't created the syllabus yet. This isn't necessarily because the faculty don't see the benefit, or are lazy. When I teach, I am usually modifying my syllabus right up until the first day of classes because I want my students using the latest, most relevant materials.

I do think that there is great merit in having syllabi available during the registration process. The answer may be in posting something that isn't quite a full syllabus, but goes well beyond the standard course description.
The value of posting the syllabi is HUGE.

It lets prospective students (either matriculated and considering the course or high school) know what the structure of the course will be and what the readings will be.

The feedback that we get from our faculty is that they highly value it as well because they can share and compare with other folks in their field. They really like when faculty at other schools post theirs.

One professor even has that as a requirement of his grant - that he disseminate syllabi to the rest of the academic community by posting them.

Even if you don't get everyone on board, it is a very good thing, in my opinion.
I am currently a college student at Bentley University. As a college student, I saw the value and benefits for both students and professors that having a centralized database of course syllabi provides. I have taken this opportunity to create a website called SyllabusCentral is a very unique service. It allows professors to use the website as a syllabus management system. Professors can easily upload (in any format including .doc, .docx, .rtf) and update their course syllabus on the website. Students can go on the website and view the syllabus or they can download the syllabus to their desktop. Students can also subscribe to a course and when a professor updates the syllabus they will get an email notification.

As previously mentioned there are many benefits to having a centralized syllabus management system for each school. Here is a summary...

1.) Prospective students can look at a course syllabus prior to registering for the course
2.) Students will have the opportunity to order textbooks online at discount prices compared to campus bookstores
3.) Students can easily view or download another copy of the syllabus without having to get a hard copy from the professor
4.) Professors can easily search the SyllabusCentral database and compare their courses to similar courses at other institutions
5.) Creates a paperless classroom perfect to "go green"
6.) Coaches of sports teams can stay on top of when their athletes have important exams
7.) Transfer students can easily get an electronic copy of the syllabus usually required to get course credit

SyllabusCentral also currently offers a course/professor rating system designed to ask similar questions as the student evaluations that institutions administer at the end of each semester. If we work directly with an institution we can work with them to create a custom evaluation system.

I thought that I would put my website out there for discussion. If you are interested in seeing what an established university looks like on SyllabusCentral you can view it for Bentley University at

I would appreciation all feedback that anyone can provide.

That looks great.
Your 7 points are spot-on.
The only drawback is the "rate a professor" feature.
I would be hard-pressed to think of a professor who would willingly contribute their syllabus to a system where they could be lambasted in public.
Also, the advertising support of a service like "College Paper Doctor" would be a no-no with any university with an honor code.

Thanks for the feedback. Any input is appreciated. Right now I am trying to figure out what is the best way to go with the website. I am basically weighing two options and would like to get some advice.

Here are my options:

1.) Right now the site is setup to be more geared as a resource for students hence the reviews system and rating system. It is setup to give students the power to make an educated decision on a professor, but this setup might prevent professors from posting their syllabus and prevent universities from backing the website.

2.) The second option is to market directly as a syllabi management system for universities and professors. With this setup I would work directly with universities. I wouldn't have the ratings and reviews, but instead work directly with universities to create a custom Student Evaluation form that they could require their students to fill out. With this option I would also not display ad for services such as "College Paper Doctor".

I would appreciate everyone's opinion on which direction I should go with the website. Do you think a university would back a website like SyllabusCentral as described in option #2 above?

I appreciate any input,



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