Syllabi costs mount on college campuses

Updated syllabi that faculty members print and distribute at the start of every semester are a major contributor to the high costs of syllabi in higher education: Three in 10 faculty members said they change their course syllabus more than three times during a semester.

Nearly half of faculty surveyed said their syllabi were created within the past year. Only 7 percent of respondents said they had used the same syllabus for 15 semesters.

None of the 200 colleges and universities surveyed by The Syllabus Institute use commercial syllabus management systems, while 30 percent use filing cabinets as the main storage area for syllabi.

Two in 10 schools use an in-house online syllabus solution, according to the report.

Syllabi require considerable school employee work time to maintain and manage. Technical administrators said up to 10 people in their department spent time every semester managing syllabi.

Common tasks among campus employees charged with syllabus-related duties were uploading and updating syllabi and training staff and faculty on how to create, edit, and store the documents in the campus’s IT infrastructure.

Higher education has seen a host of online syllabus systems that sync with web-based calendar applications such as Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar hit the market in recent years.

Internet syllabus system Concourse, for example, allows for customization, meaning faculty can make certain parts of the document visible to different sections of the same course.

“What we’re finding is there’s far more value for a syllabus than was originally thought,” said Judd Rattner, CEO of Intellidemia.

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