Tona Hangen makes a good point. The format and style of a course syllabus sends a definite message to students. How often do professors think about the "look" of their syllabus? Hangen asks if students would rather read 6-8 pages of dense black-and-white text or a syllabus that looks like a magazine layout?
Here is a taste of Hangen's post on how to bring an "extreme makeover" to your syllabus:
...Giving a syllabus a profound inside-out reorganization is more than
just window dressing. It involves deep thought about your course content
and how a student encounters it. Marshall McLuhan said, “the medium is
the message” and while the traditional medium for a syllabus is a
portrait-oriented 8.5×11 text document printed on paper and handed out
the first day of class… it needn’t be the only possibility.
I’ve written elsewhere about my experiences with this process,
starting with giving the syllabus for my standard US History II course
an “Extreme Makeover”
for the Spring 2011 term. I called it “extreme” because not only did I
adopt some graphic design principles, I also framed the class to give
students more responsibility for the learning, including punching some
holes in the semester to be filled with student-chosen content later. It
was a course redesign on many levels, and the eye-catching syllabus
that resulted was the culmination of a deeper rethinking of what I was
teaching and what I wanted my students to learn.
As I have reconsidered both the form and function of a college course
syllabus, I’ve continued to play with different looks using stock
templates in Pages for Mac.
My aim is to reduce textual clutter, jargon, and bloat and instead give
pared-down, readable, technologically savvy syllabi that suggest—at a
glance—my personality and the approach of the course. My Spring 2012
undergraduate courses might serve to illustrate this, displayed as
e-magazines using (free) Flipsnack PDF to Flash converter:
Read the rest here.