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The Syllabus tool in Concourse

January 20, 2010

Concourse (Blackboard Vista at Notre Dame) has a “Syllabus” tool that sometimes confuses new users, who think they need to use it if they want to post a syllabus. That’s a logical thought, but not the case. You can post a syllabus with the “Add File” button, just like any other document. The Syllabus tool exists for two purposes:

  1. Create a syllabus from scratch
  2. Provide constant access to the syllabus

If you click the Syllabus tool from the “Build” tab, you get two options: 1) Use built-in syllabus and 2) Use File. The first lets you build a syllabus from scratch, following a sectional approach. I do not recommend this; it’s too limiting and most people have already created a syllabus in a word processor. The “Use File” option lets you upload that existing document.

The syllabus tool must be enabled and visible to students; check this out under the “Student View” tab.

If the tool’s not not there, go to the Build tab. It’s enabled if “Syllabus” appears under “Course Tools” on the side menu, and if it’s hidden an “(H)” appears. To change the status, click “Manage Course.” The “Tools” option lets you enable the tool, while the “Course Menu” option lets you show it. When you’re done, go back to Student View for a reality check.

The advantage of the syllabus tool over simply posting a document is that the syllabus button is always visible to students when they are in Concourse. It’s there whether they are checking their grades or looking at a handout.

One last note: I recommend uploading a PDF file for your syllabus. You will not lose any of your formatting and students will not be able to inadvertently delete chunks of the syllabus.

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