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Graphic Syllabi: Making the Syllabus More User Friendly

December 11, 2011

A recent post on the University of  Toronto’s Center for Teaching Support blog got me thinking. Why are syllabi (did you know this was the plural of syllabus?) pretty much the same? When the syllabus carries the huge dual burdens of a) explaining the expectations of the class, and b) making a good first impression – why has so little attention been paid to the medium or form of the syllabus?

Enter: graphic syllabi. There are all sorts of learning styles so why not make a syllabus that caters to more than just those who like lots of words (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a visual break?) The CTSI blog highlights an image for an IT class but I there are possibilities across the disciplines. Here are a couple examples from Philosophy. Here’s some from a writing course. I imagine the possibilities are endless.

Many of these read as flow charts; it would be neat to see more as mind-mapping sort of projects or even a video syllabus, maybe as something as grandiose as this amazing video.

I imagine many of these are hand-in-hand with a more traditional syllabus to explain the logistics of grades, readings, etc… One of the main role of the syllabus to make a good first impression – I can only imagine the type of impression a syllabus like this would have made on me as a student!

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