Timothy Burke says in his blog post, “Putting Syllabi Online:”
Since I often put up both drafts of syllabi and completed syllabi for comments, I obviously think it’s a good practice. It’s been nothing but beneficial for me: I’ve gotten great suggestions, interesting critiques, a good feeling for how the syllabus plays with different intellectual communities. So why wouldn’t everyone do this? In fact, why shouldn’t everyone more or less be officially pushed to do it by colleagues or administrations. It’s not just a good thing for the person posting the syllabus, but for students who want an early view of what a course might entail and for larger publics who would like to get a sense of how much work and thought goes into an average course design. Since one of the handicaps academics have in the public sphere at the moment is that there are a number of people who think the work of college teaching consists of walking into a room, letting knowledge spill out of your head, and leaving, it might help if we gave a demonstration of what’s actually involved.
Why don’t all teachers post their course materials online? Some teachers are unfamiliar with the tools. Some are anxious about a hostile reaction to their ideas. Some are anxious about the scrutiny of their peers. Some might wish to maintain their sense of expertise by limiting the circulation and exposure of their field.
Nonetheless, there’s a lot to be said for having all syllabi live on the web. Students would have a better idea of what to expect going into a class and would have another way to track their progress once the class was underway. Prospective students would have more information to go on when choosing schools, or classes or majors within those schools. Other teachers might find inspiration (or fuel for competition) to impove their own course materials.
What do you think?