The End of Syllabus Week?

Syllabus Week = killed by Learning Management Systems? Image courtesy of http://www.theexamresults.com/2014/02/04/gmat-syllabus/
Syllabus Week = killed by Learning Management Systems? Image courtesy of http://www.theexamresults.com/2014/02/04/gmat-syllabus/

Alexis Williams, Community Health

Huzzah! Welcome to the spring semester of 2015! We are in a new year, which means new assignments, which also means new deadlines. This is definitely the life of a college student, right?

But something has changed in my short time of being here, something I didn’t plan on. Compared to my freshman year, this year’s first few weeks of spring semester have been dreadful. Professors have lineups of assignments that are due within the next week. (Are you serious?) What, I wonder, happened to the beloved syllabus week?

In college, people call the first week of the semester syllabus week, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. It actually feels like syllabus day. Instead of spending the first week ensuring that students 1) have the syllabus (first day), 2) understand the syllabus (second day), and 3) start working on the syllabus (third day), all of my classes went right into lectures, writing papers, reading books etc.

When thinking about what could have caused this shift, I keep coming back to the role of learning management systems. I’ve noticed that a lot of professors don’t seem to hand out a paper syllabus anymore. They assume that students will go on Compass (or Moodle) right before classes start to read them. The learning management system handles syllabus week now, so that students are expected to log in, take a look at the syllabus, and start doing the work of the course right away. The only mention the syllabus gets in class is where to find it on Compass.

I personally think students would not dare look at a syllabus until they’re sitting in class the first day. Don’t get me wrong; technology is increasing dramatically and has evidence to support that it works to help people learn. But I think this current generation is still into the fun of technology, like texting, tweeting, Face book-ing, and Instagram-ing. Using it for school might face resistance from those of us who are sad about the passing of syllabus week. 🙂  What do you think–should there be a syllabus week?

Overall, this should be a wonderful year. Congratulations to the seniors that are about to graduate in May. Forever an ILLINI!

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