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Online instruction is currently the fastest growing segment of higher education.

The Course Description, Syllabus and Course Plan

The syllabus and course description clearly defines and explains course goals, performance objectives, grading and evaluation criteria, and grading rubrics, and indicates the relative emphasis on facts, critical thinking, analysis, reasoning, and so on. A disability statement should be included. It should also indicates if the course is self-paced or not and if any on-campus meetings or tests are required. 

The course includes an orientation module and/or a course description that accomplishes or includes the following:

  • Teaches students to navigate the course website.
  • Includes a Netiquette statement.
  • Defines and communicates the rigor of a college-level course.
  • Makes sure students know that they are responsible for their learning. Discusses the roles of students in the interactive online environment. Refers students to the “Is Distance Learning Right for You?” page.
  • Defines and explains course goals, performance objectives, grading and evaluation criteria, and grading rubrics, indicating the relative emphasis on facts, critical thinking, analysis, reasoning, etc.
  • Clarifies if the course is self-paced or not
  • Clarifies if any on-campus tests are required.
  • Defines the instructor's role in the course and states instructor's guidelines or procedures for maintaining communications with students
  • Informs students of email and voicemail response time (e.g., within 24 hours, twice a week, etc.) so the instructor is managing student expectations. Differentiates types of inquiries and faculty response time.
  • Posts office hours, telephone numbers, and so on.
  • Indicates the amount of writing required, if any.
  • Indicates availability of course resources and reference materials.
  • States expectations regarding quality and quantity: communicates high expectations.
  • Explains general course assignment procedures.
  • Includes a disability statement. For example:

Students with disabilities: Students with documented disabilities are encouraged to contact the Learning Assistance Program and their instructor with any special accommodations requests prior to or at the beginning of each semester. Students who do not have formal documentation but feel that they may have a disability are encouraged to contact the Learning Assistance Program at 922-6966 ext. 3274. Students who think they might have a learning disability can contact the Learning Assistance Program or start the process by taking this online Learning Disability Assessment.

  • Provides an overview of the assignments, which are detailed in the unit/modules. 
  • Indicates expected time requirements (hours per week) for successful course completion.
  • Indicates required frequency of course responses, chats, and threaded discussions.
  • Indicates if/when the student’s physical presence on campus will be required during the semester (proctored tests, presentations etc.).
  • Includes anticipated agenda (calendar) and due dates.
  • Clearly defines assignments.
  • Each course unit/module gives students specific, detailed instructions for completing course assignments, including deadlines and criteria for evaluation. 

Syllabi Examples

Anthropology 101

PD 101 (College Success)

Useful Resources:

@ONE offers free training in the area of online teaching to California Community College faculty.

Quality Matters is a faculty-centered, peer review process designed to certify the quality of online courses and online components.

Last Modified 8/9/10