PDF Syllabus Builder: Open-Source Tool for Online Instructors, Course Developers and Instructional Designers

This was a really interesting presentation by Max Longhurst (max.longhurst@usu.edu) from Utah State University which focused on some new software called SyllabusBuilder.  The software was created by Max Longhurst who is a professor at Utah State University in conjunction with George Joeckel (george.joeckel@usu.edu) who handled the more technical side of the programming (but was unable to attend the conference).

After introducing himself, Dr. Longhurst opened it up to the participant for all of us to introduce ourselves which was made the session feel more interactive and engaging (although there were quite a few people at the session so this took a good 10-15 minutes of the session).

For the remainder of the session, Dr. Longhurst spent a little time discussing the motivation behind creating the SyllabusBuilder and he

but the majority of the session was spent actually looking at the software and walking through it.  Although I generally prefer sessions which focus less on the how-to of the technology and more on how to best use the technology in an educational setting, I thought this was actually pretty helpful.  They also passed out flashdrives with the software on them so I was able to walk through the program on my own laptop.

Basically, the SyllabusBuilder is a pdf template with all the necessary headings and components for a basic syllabus and the instructor can just fill in their own information.  It’s a very nice template and has some fun features like providing active verbs to choose from for your learning objectives.  It could be useful for instructors to provide to GSIs as you can fill out parts of it and lock them (if you had specific course policies that had to be the same for all sections) but leave other parts for each GSI to fill out separately. 

Also on the flash drive are pdf templates for a CourseGuideBuilder and a CourseScheduleBuilder.  If anyone is interested in these programs, let me know and I can lend you the flashdrive.  The programs are also still in beta versions and it seemed like the authors would welcome comments or feedback regarding improvements that could be made.

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