Establishing Concourse Syllabus Readiness

Your course templates have been created, you’ve migrated all of the appropriate data from other systems into your Concourse, and you’ve successfully populated all of the appropriate syllabus items. Now it is time to confirm that your syllabi look the way you expect them to look, and that they follow all established guidelines set forth by your institution.

For the purpose of this type of syllabus quality assurance check, the Syllabus Geeks have put together the following information to help guide you. If you have not already done so, it may be beneficial for you to re-read our article about designing course templates. The information contained therein regarding establishing commonalities and determining content source may be helpful to review prior to completing the quality assurance checks.

The Syllabus Geeks refer to the individuals at your institution who have the responsibility of maintaining course templates as Template Managers. These individuals will need to be kept up to date on important course changes, as well as the timelines involved in making changes to course templates. (Since managing templates requires that individuals have editing capabilities within Concourse, we recommend that only a few individuals institution-wide have this level of access.) Reviewers are individuals who will conduct comprehensive audits of course templates and/or instructional syllabi. These individuals tend to be faculty developers, department chairs, program directors, etc. They typically do not have permission to edit the syllabi they are reviewing.

 Note:  When planning your quality assurance process, it is important to keep in mind that the individuals assigned to perform the aforementioned tasks will require training, lead time, and access to the system in order to be able to complete these tasks as efficiently and competently as possible.

 

Step 1: Conduct an Initial Data Cleanse

If your institution is migrating Concourse syllabus data, you’ll want to be sure to conduct an initial cleanse of the data as the first step in your quality assurance check. The purpose of an initial data cleanse is to clean and organize any content you’ve migrated from external systems. Some institutions are moving from an existing syllabus system to Concourse, and may already have well-constructed syllabus information. Many institutions utilize student information systems, which serve as the official repositories for information such as course descriptions and course outcomes. In these cases, clients may elect to migrate that data in the form of feeds to populate Concourse syllabus items. Once the data has been migrated, it is imperative that this step be completed.

Note: Some institutions may elect to lock syllabus certain information migrated with feeds, such as course descriptions. This is done primarily when the system of record for a given item is not anticipated to be Concourse.

Some things to consider regarding initial data cleansing:

  • What item information has been migrated that will need to be reviewed during this step?
  • Who will be responsible for reviewing the information and making any necessary corrections?
  • What is the deadline for completing the initial cleanse?
  • How often will you need to perform this step?
  • If an issue is discovered with information that is part of a locked item, to whom should this issue be reported?

The following chart illustrates examples of what to look for when conducting this initial review of your migrated data, as well as what the appropriate measures may be to correct any errors.

 

Step 2: Update Course Templates

Once you have completed the initial cleanse of your migrated data, you’ll need to ensure that additional course-specific information is present on each syllabus. For example, suppose all instructors of English 101 are required to adhere to the same course-specific, standard methods of evaluation. You may want to have this information reflected on the course template, so that when the template is cloned to create the section or instructional syllabus, the information is already present for the instructors.

Things to consider during this step include:

  • What are the applicable syllabus items (the items that contain the course-specific information)?
  • What information should be checked, and what are examples of common errors or inconsistencies?
  • Does each course template show the correct domains (campus, school, department)?
  • If an issue is discovered with information that is part of an uneditable (locked) item, to whom should this issue be reported?
  • How will you resolve issues found during this step?

Once your course templates have been updated, it’s time to inform your Reviewers that there are syllabi ready for their review and approval.

 

Step 3: Course Template Review

A review of the updated templates is critical before the templates are cloned and instructional syllabi are created. The Syllabus Geeks have heard tales of institutions “skipping this step” in an effort to expedite the syllabus creation process...only to have to soon figure out how to correct an overlooked course template error on hundreds of newly-created syllabi.  Additionally, if errors are present on the course templates when they are cloned to create instructional syllabi, these errors will be present on all instructional syllabi. Since instructional syllabi are not linked to the course templates, edits made to course templates are not inherited by their children (the instructional syllabi).

We know it is typical for some errors to be easily overlooked, but a comprehensive review of your course templates before they are cloned can help to mitigate this issue. Once the initial review is complete, many institutions incorporate a review of Concourse course templates into their annual course review process.

Thing to consider regarding course template review include:

  • How often will you review course templates?
  • Who will conduct the course template review?
  • How will communication of errors or changes be handled?
  • How will you resolve issues with locked syllabus items?

Do not underestimate the importance of reviewing your course templates! Remember, Concourse users are relying on your syllabus information to be as accurate as possible.

 

Step 4: Instructional Syllabus Review

Your templates are created, they have been reviewed and approved, and the feeds have been run to generate syllabi for all of your instructors for the upcoming term. When the syllabi are ready, instructors will then have the opportunity to create their class syllabus in Concourse. Many institutions have policies in place regarding the review of instructor syllabi during the initial weeks of each term.  The final step in syllabus readiness checking should be assurance of instructors’ adherence to policies regarding their class-specific information. Are your instructors required to list their institutional email address? Are they responsible for creating deliverables, or tying assignments to course objectives? This information should be reviewed prior to the start of each term to ensure the information conveyed to students and the general public is accurate and in accordance with established policies and procedures.

Some things to consider when conducting reviews of instructional syllabi include:

  • Who will be responsible for conducting reviews of instructor syllabi?
  • How might the use of Concourse Audit change existing department or program syllabus policies and procedures?
  • How often will you conduct instructional syllabus reviews?
  • How will the reviews be conducted (spot check, random sample, comprehensive, etc.)?
  • How will issues uncovered during this review be resolved?

It is no secret that at many institutions, instructor buy-in (or the lack thereof) regarding the adoption of new technology can make or break any new system implementation. It may help to communicate to faculty early on the expectation of the use of Concourse for their syllabi, and how and why instructional syllabus reviews will be conducted.  For more tips on encouraging faculty to use Concourse, click here!

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