4 Reasons Why You Need A Course Syllabus Dashboard

syllabusDo you need to provide access to all course syllabi for accreditation? Do you want to empower department heads, and market courses to potential or current students? Do your instructional designers need a one-stop access point to courses? Look no further than a syllabus tracker dashboard.

Kenneth Larsen and the team in the Center for Innovative Design and Instruction (CIDI) at Utah State University created this powerful open educational resource tool (basically a course syllabus dashboard and more) that provides filtered results and visual analytics by harnessing the power of the Canvas API. There are four main reasons why you need to have this tool.

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Accreditation

One of the menial tasks in higher education is the long-procrastinated labor of gathering all syllabi for course offerings as part of the accreditation process. Whether that is gathering a hard copy via campus snail mail, or trying to gather pdf copies via email. The syllabus tracker provides a list of all course titles from every course with student enrollments in Canvas. If there is content on the syllabus page in Canvas, the course title in the dashboard will become a hyperlink that directly accesses that content. The syllabus will open in a new tab to be viewed electronically, saved as a pdf or printed. Gathering, done.

Department Reporting

The data in the syllabus tracker is displayed using visual analytics. This can be helpful whether a department head is sitting in a staff meeting and needing to quickly show hard evidence of the access to syllabi in their courses, or if they simply need to gather statistics for formal reporting. In the dashboard “Highcharts” graphs are utilized at the top of each search result. One graph shows published versus unpublished courses, and a second chart shows how many of the published courses have content present in the syllabus. Not only do these charts provide an instant visual indicator, but the graphs can also be downloaded and saved as image or pdf files for future reference and sharing in reports. Analytics, done.

Open Access for Students

Provide open access to course syllabi for current students, or utilize the dashboard to market courses to potential students. The syllabus tracker provides filtered results based on college, department, semester and/or instructor. If a student wants to view course syllabi from a particular program on campus, or if they’re interested to see if their favorite professor offers other great courses, they can easily filter their results. Additionally, results can be retrieved for the entire university. If this option is selected, a different “Highchart” graph is dynamically displayed comparing the syllabus data from each college side by side. Filtering, done.

Direct Access for Instructional Designers

The syllabus tool provides a one-stop access point to any course with student enrollments on Canvas. Instructional designers will appreciate that the name of each instructor(s) for is displayed next to each course title. Also, a direct link to the Canvas course is provided. This allows id’s to populate all courses from a particular instructor or program and have direct access to each course. Access, done.
Note: Only those with the proper permissions in Canvas set can access the course from the syllabus tracker.

View the USU Syllabus Tracker Introduction video:

Bio: Travis Thurston is an Instructional Designer in the Center for Innovative Design & Instruction (CIDI) at Utah State University. He began his career teaching high school history and pe courses, but at USU his focus is higher education eLearning and course design in Instructure Canvas.