In the following screens, I will describe the individual stages of constructing the video syllabus, the theoretical and practical decisions we had to make, the problems and challenges we faced, and students’ comments about multimedia projects.
Defining the term “video syllabus”
In general dictionaries, the syllabus is typically defined as “course outline” or “program of study.” Its primary purpose is to communicate to students “what the course is about, why the course is taught, where it is going, and what will be required of the students for them to complete the course with a passing grade” (Altman and Cashin). Given the information of the text-based syllabus, our task was to convey the same information in a new medium. As a first step, we needed to define what exactly constituted the concept of the “video syllabus.” Should it be similar to a motion picture to be played on the web with captions at the bottom of the screen to make it ADA compliant? Would a TK3 format, a multimedia electronic document assembly tool, be more appropriate since it allows for additional notes and images? Or should it remain all text to be published on the web with certain ideas or concepts hyperlinked and explained in video clips? After weeks of looking for a solution, we decided to create a website with the navigation buttons representing section titles in the text-based syllabus. When clicking a navigation button, students would be able to watch a video clip of three to five minutes and easily access information about a certain aspect of the course.
Locating examples of video syllabi
When googling examples of video syllabi, we found links to video clips in which an instructor would sit in his/her office and give the viewer an informal overview of the course. Although these clips usually covered more than one aspect or component of the course, they did not indicate a systematic, premeditated plan to create a complete video syllabus. Naturally, this does not mean that these projects do not exist; it only means that the term “video syllabus” is not widespread enough to use with search engines. More time should have been spent on looking for a model, and perhaps different key words or different search strategies would have given different results.