Create/Modify Your Syllabus

What function does your syllabus serve? Common functions faculty cite include serving as a contract, listing required textbooks, detailing policies and procedures, and describing the focus of the course.  Less commonly, professors note that the syllabus describes their teaching philosophy, lists resources available to help students succeed, and explains how their course fits into a discipline or broader context.

One important role a syllabus plays that is frequently overlooked by professors is that it sets the tone for the rest of the semester.  The syllabus is the initial point of interaction between you and your students and it can create powerful first impressions.


Your students need to be informed of the type of class you will deliver 1 – 2 weeks before the start of the semester.  In your syllabus, you need to be very clear about the expectations of your course, how much and what types of activity will take place in class and out of class, in OAKS, and the amount of time students will be face-to-face in the classroom.  Below are two examples of language:

Example 1

“This is a hybrid class. Half of the class time is replaced with online activities.

Class time is for:

  1. Explaining and practicing difficult concepts
  2. Expanding on the textbook to include newer and more advanced information
  3. Getting a overview of major concepts, minor points, and how they fit together
  4. Asking and answering questions
  5. Guest speakers
  6. Taking higher stakes tests

Online activities are for:

  1. Pre-lecture quizzes so the instructor knows which topics are most difficult
  2. Personalized Study Plans that help students structure and prioritize study time
  3. Adaptive quizzing tailored to students’ unique weak areas
  4. Videos that provide more example of key concepts

Time Commitment in Hybrid and Face-to-face Sections

Hybrid Typical Face-To-Face
Class meetings per week 1 2 or 3
Classroom minutes per week 80 150
Required online activities minutes per week 90 20
Recommended number of study minutes per week 370 – 550 370 – 550
Total time per week 540 – 720 (9 – 12 hours) 540 – 720 (9 – 12 hours)

Example 2

This is a hybrid course, where approximately 50% of the course will take place in a traditional face-to-face classroom and 50% will be delivered via OAKS, your online learning management system, where you will interact with your classmates and with the instructor. Within the course OAKS site you will access the learning materials and syllabus; discuss issues; submit assignments; take quizzes; email other students and the instructor; participate in online activities including small groups; and display your projects.


“Netiquette” is the etiquette we use for participating in online conversations. It is important to keep the course community a safe, engaging and friendly place. There are tons of examples of netiquette online but below you’ll find an example from one of our CofC faculty.

Be professional

Always remember to say “Please” and “Thank you” when soliciting help from your classmates and instructor. Respect the opinions of your classmates. If you feel the need to disagree, do so respectfully and acknowledge the valid points in your classmate’s argument. Acknowledge that others are entitled to have their own perspective on the issue.

Be forgiving

If your classmate makes a mistake, refrain from badgering him or her for it. Please understand that mistakes happen to the best of us. Do not type in ALL CAPS! Some individuals may think that you are screaming. Refrain from writing anything that sounds angry, sarcastic, or comical, because without hearing your tone of voice, your peers will not know what your tone is and thus would not be able to know if you are joking or being serious.

Stay on point

Stay on topic and refrain from posting irrelevant links, comments, thoughts, or pictures. Be brief when typing in answers to simple questions. People are less likely to read through unnecessary and lengthy answers.

Use references

If you are making a point or replying to a question from a classmate on the discussion boards, make sure your answer is accurate and acknowledge the reference ( e.g. cite figures from textbook, photo from a website, or from a scientific article). If you refer to something your classmate said earlier in the discussion, quote just a few key lines from their post so that others won’t have to go back and figure out which post you are referring to.

Read before posting and responding

Before posting your question to a discussion board, check if anyone has asked it already and received a reply. Before asking a question, check the class FAQs or search the internet to see if the answer is obvious or easy to find. Check the most recent comments before you reply to an older comment, since the issue might have already been resolved or opinions may have changed. Run a spelling and grammar check before posting anything to the discussion board It only takes a minute, and can make the difference between sounding uneducated and sounding knowledgeable.

Be clear

Remember that you are not in a room with your classmates. All of the information you want to express needs to be self-evident in the post itself.