Syllabus Refresh Fall 2017

Updated October 7th, 2017-This article provides background and outlines what users can expect as we roll-out significant improvements to the viewing and editing of syllabi. Please check back often as we will continue to update this article as new details emerge and questions are asked and answered related to this upgrade.


Motivation and Goals

The goal of this project is to modernize the presentation and authoring of syllabi. Much has changed in the years since we first introduced the current experience in terms of client requirements, content consumption, devices and browsers, legislation, and other best practices. For this project we have focused on:

  • general readability and consistency,
  • accessibility and screen reader compatibility,
  • handling "advanced" content like tables,
  • and yes, even printing.


What's changing, and what's not...

First of all, let's talk about what is NOT changing. The actual written content of each syllabus will be preserved, so users should not expect to find that any syllabus item information is different than before. In addition these enhancements will not affect:

  • authoring behavior,
  • integration,
  • reporting,
  • feed processing,
  • permissions,
  • course creation,
  • templates, or
  • audit.

Now, on to what IS changing. Users will primarily notice changes in the look and feel of each syllabus, specifically the:

  • width and balance of presented syllabi,
  • font sizing, indentation, variations, and headings,
  • color and size of editor buttons,
  • table, list, and comment styling,
  • dozens of accessibility improvements, and
  • various other fixes.

And what MIGHT change? The vast majority of syllabi will immediately look much more awesome. However it is possible that those who have used advanced or irregular styling on their syllabi (e.g. tables with additional properties, empty spaces for alignment, etc.) may not mesh with these new styles perfectly. So as we introduce these enhancements, we encourage you to spot-check recent syllabi and let us know if anything now appears to negatively impact the comprehension of the content.


Deployment and Timing

These are the current targets each phase of deployment:

  • Update sandboxes in mid-October.
  • Update production in mid-November.

Concourse Power Users will be notified via email in preparation for each phase of deployment, and this document will be updated to reflect more precise dates.



Q. What will happen to existing syllabi?
A. Existing syllabi will remain in each system, with all syllabus content and access preserved. We do expect that some users will notice that formatting may look different, particularly with spacing and tables. But most will likely welcome the improvement.
Q. Can I choose when to update our production system?
A. The deployment of these changes have been carefully planned, tested, and staged. At this time we do not anticipate scheduling alternate deployment dates and times, but we will share more details about production timing after we evaluate performance and acceptance in the sandboxes.
Q. What if my institution doesn't want to adopt the changes?
A. We understand that the announcement of changes to any system can be concerning. However, we anticipate that the majority of users will welcome the improvements, while others may not even notice a difference. The updates we are working on are entirely intended to improve the user experience, particularly for those with impairments.
Q. Is there anything I'll need to do to get ready for the deployment of these changes?
A. We will notify you when the changes will be applied to your sandboxes. At that time, we will request that you review syllabi to see how they look and explore the enhanced functionality.
Q. Who should I contact if I have any questions or concerns?
A. We always recommend clients contact our support team or write us at If you are referencing a particular syllabus example, do be sure to include the link.
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