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More information is available on the managed Sakai 3 project to deliver Sakai 3.0 by the end of June 2011.  

We are looking for commonalities between various initiatives around syllabi and subject outlines. Perhaps we can fill in this table with thumbnail wireframes and a high level description of what's on the page. I have noted when the work is 2.x related (all have working prototypes or pilots) or 3.x related (sketches only, thinking ahead to a non-tool based framework)

  • Syllabus: overarching information students need to know about the class
  • Subject outline/schedule: specific to the assignments and activities in the class



Subject outline/schedule

to do

Comments (from other institutions)

Charles Sturt University (2.x)

The CSU Subject Outline tool is accessed by subject coordinators from within their My Workspace. An author (usually the subject coordinator/facilitator/lecturer) provides or edits information for students about their subject. Students access their outlines from a Subject Outline tool within their subject site & can either view it online or as a pdf. For authors, the tool enables authoring of content under six of the nine main sections:

Subject summary (non-editable autotext from database information)
Subject overview (general information about the subject & subject coordinator)
Contact procedures
Subject delivery (includes the timetable & schedule of study)
Text and learning materials (required & recommended reading/resources)
Assessment information (assessment requirements, how to submit, policy & procedure regarding plagiarism, extensions, etc)
Assessment items (date, weighting, type & description, rationale, marking criteria)
Support Services (non-editable autotext)
Policy and Procedures (university-wide information, non-editable autotext)

Within each section there are a number of fields, some of which are classified as mandatory. A subject outline cannot be published until all mandatory fields contain information; if a non-mandatory field is left blank it will not appear in the student view of the outline.Some fields are prepopulated with text - either non-editable (eg if the text is a university policy) or editable (generally in cases where the text is suggested wording); other fields are initially blank at the commencement of outline preparation.

The Subject Outline tool allows outlines to be reused by cloning from previously prepared outlines and making any necessary changes before publication,thus saving a lot of time when creating an outline.

Outlines must pass through a QA process before publication. Authors submit a draft to their QA officer who either approves the outline for publication or recommends changes to the author.

Help documentation and other information about the tool can be viewed at

Class information and assessment/activity information is all contained within the one subject outline.

All subject outlines across the university were prepared in this tool from the beginning of 2010. There have been a number of refinements to its functionality as the year has progressed.

The CSU subject outline is very interesting.  My question:  why is it separate from the teaching content.  Everything related to a subhect/course should be merge to provide a unified view to students and instructors. 
Another question :  is the Subject outline information  repeated or duplicated elsewhere in the course site?

[yitna] I agree with Jacques -- well thought out structure for the fixed portion of the syllabus/subject outline.  How are individual instructor changes handled? For example, could interactivity be added to "Subject delivery" section?    

HEC Montreal (2.x)

Open Syllabus has a tree navigation panel on the left and a display panel on the right.  Clicking on a specific element of the tree will make it apppear on the display panel on the right. Each section has a well-defined use (semantic). Once a section is displayed on the right-panel, instructors can add various resources (text, url, document, citation, tool, etc.) with an associated contextual wording to provide guidance to the students.

  • News and regulation (cheating policies, attendance, etc. often coming from university overall policies).
  • Presentation (description of the course, overall learning objectives, teaching method, etc.)
  • Contact information (instructor, staff, TA, office or chat hours, etc. some coming from the university data base)
  • Learning material (ressources to be used in the course like textbook, coursepack, tools, computer programs, etc.  Should provide links to the library or campus store). Other specific resources or readings are mentioned in the lectures or activities.
  • Evaluation (exams, assignments, session work, class participation, etc.).  Provides information on weight, description of the evaluation, grading criteria, useful ressources, submission procedure, etc. An evaluation item is similar to an activity or lecture.
  • Course organisation (lectures, themes, modules, or activities).
  • Link to Denver 2010 presentation (Slideshare)

The course organisation section is divided in lectures, modules or activities. This can be linked to a calendar. To access the content of a lecture, the instructor has to click on the relevant title on the tree. The editing mechanic works the same way as in all the other sections.  By clicking on the add button, the instructor can add

  • a text
  • a document
  • an url
  • a citation
  • a link to a Sakai tool.The instructor then define a set of contextual properties of the resource to be used in the lecture.
    Rubric - a word indicating how the resource is to be used in this lecture and displayed above the resource.
  • Description 
  • Objectives
  • Miscellaneous resources
  • Resources used in class
  • Readings
  • Exercices
    The instructor can set the  Diffusion level of each resource as
  • Public
  • Enrolled students only
    The instructor can also specify the requirement level
  • Mandatory
  • Recommended
  • Complementary
  • The assignment and lecture sections are currently separate.  We would like to be able to add a graded assignment in a lecture so it would also appear in the evaluation section with the appropriate weight.
  • We would like to be able to save the content of a lecture as a separate object or module so it could be used in an another course or by a colleague.
  • We would like to provide a better semantic for the rubrics.  We are thinking  about a multi-dimensional approach with read-write-execute, before-during-after class, etc.
  • We would like to provide more flexibility to the instructors for sections and rubrics creation and wording  while preserving the semantic for various reporting purposes.

[yitna] The collapsible tree navigation display goes a long way to making the interface easy to work with!
The underlying semantic structure makes the Open Syllabus (like CSU's subject outline) useful for institutional consistency and reporting.  My question is: how is the individual course configuration or labeling handled without violating the underlying semantic structure -- especially if a new element needs to be added?

Learning Activities (3.x)

This screen includes 4 areas

  • Basic course information (as much as possible flowing automatically, such as contact info, meeting times, etc)
  • Grading expectations: weighting of various assignments
  • Reading list: a list of textbooks to buy --pages and other readings will be listed in Learning Activities (schedule)
  • Learning Activities (aka schedule): consolidated

    Each area can be edited. We do not have detail for the first 3 bullets; see Schedule at left for detail on Learning Activities pane.

This is the editing screen for the schedule--we arbitrarily chose list view over table view to show
Sessions (date and description optional) with

  • Readings
  • Assignments

    Shown is the "quick add" for an assignment. This just adds text. If the instructor wants to create a link, they must complete activity creation--the only way to do this is to select activity type (paper, test, etc) so they can get a custom screen. If activity had previously been created, it could be found and dragged from the content drawer.

    "Quick add" for readings works much the same, only no activity type is chosen.

The list of work left to do is long, but I'll make a start

  • how/whether instructors choose the template for both the syllabus and learning activities pane; what are some other templates?
  • An activity or assignment that consists of multiple parts (read this, take this quiz, participate in this discussion); this is one way to associate activities, but not the only way

I have a question on the status of learning activities.  In your vision, could the instructor save one learning activity to be re-used in another course? Are there other properties for these learning activities like dates, conditional appearance, etc. ?
[yitna]  I like the "quick add" option.  One question: is there an editor in the design as a "catch-all" for instructors who need more than the provided fields?  How to keep the balance between pre-determined data/pre-defined fields and unexpected needs.

University of Michigan (3.x)





University of Virginia (2.x)

UVa's current implementation includes permission enhancements to accommodate access to course syllabi via our SIS: in addition to world readable and site only, we added a new access level - UVa Only - that requires UVa authentication to view the syllabus via the class details screen in the Student Information System. We send a nightly feed of URLs for the world readable and UVa Only syllabus items to our SIS. This allows:

  • students to make better decisions about which courses to enroll in and
  • in the case of world readable, provides a publicly accessible view of the course description, etc.
    The option to restrict the syllabus item to the site (Site Only) is also still available. This is most likely to be used for the interactive syllabus linking to specific class activities.
    Also see UVa Interactive Syllabus

Interactive Syllabus (iSyllabus)

Three major enhancements:

  • We enhanced the Resources Browser in FCKeditor to provide links to Assignments, Tests & Quizzes, and JForum topics;
  • Designed and added new templates that more closely represent  instructor course designs;
  • Preset popup configurations to facilitate access to and completion of class activities from the interactive syllabus. Goals:
    # To give instructors maximum freedom to design the course.# "Low floor/high ceiling" - ease of use for instructors implemented through the availability of templates and freedom to incorporate content developed externally using web services (link tool/basic LTI).# Critical training component to familiarize instructors with the editor's capabilities.

# UVa wants to complete the 2.x implementation of this capability.

  1. Identify what we want to carry over from 2.x to 3.
  2. Work towards better understanding of sakai 3 specifications and affordances.

Jacques.  We have discussed this before but if 60% of the instructors use the lecture/table approach of your template, is this an indication that it is a fairly popular model that you want to freeze so you could add more features like automatic linking to a date or room, etc. 
[yitna] We are not sure yet how popular this format will be.  We have seen this format (without the interactivity) already being used by many instructors.  We think that those instructors will take to it quickly.  But those who want an easy interface will also.  So, yes, this should be frozen so as to allow for automatic linking to data.  

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