The Millennial Professor, whose site I visit now and then for ideas, had a post today about her syllabi for Millennial students — you know, the kids who do nearly everything electronically and are plugged in 24 hours a day. (I’m so jealous of this generation, remembering with horror the late nights I spent in my dorm room, using WiteOut and an IBM Selectric typewriter, praying the ribbon didn’t run out of ink at 4 a.m., which it inevitably did.)
So here’s the checklist the Millennial Professor uses in assembling her syllabi for courses. It’s great to use these ideas as you plan your own courses, college or K-12, for the year.
1. She includes a photo of the textbook the class will be using. I’m sure this comes in handy when students are in the college bookstore trying to sort out their purchases, or ordering online, when a photo of the book might be useful. For K-12 teachers, this might be useful information for parents.
2. She includes an explanation of her virtual office hours. Because many teachers and professors don’t have virtual office hours, this simply helps to explain what this is. Millennial Professor includes her Yahoo instant messaging user name and describes how her virtual office hours work and might help them. Virtual office hours — via email and instant messaging — provide an alternative to in-office hours, particularly for students who need a quick answer or explanation.
3. She uses her syllabus to remind students that laptops are not allowed in her classroom, except on designated days. Because her lectures are in Powerpoint and she makes them available online to her students, laptops generally aren’t useful in the classroom and deter from class discussions.
4. She includes a “Best Practices” section in her syllabus. Today’s students want to know how they can make a certain grade, so she provides examples of best practices so students will know exactly what they need to do to make a satisfactory grade. For K-12 teachers, posting your class rubrics would be a viable alternative.
5. She includes her attendance policy, because she always takes attendance. Her students are allowed to have two to three absences without an explanation.