Syllabi Central needs community involvement

The new Syllabi Central website, created by senior Jake Novick and junior Joseph Marcus allows students to upload syllabi from their former classes. The site has been up and running for two weeks. While the recent launch of the Student Union-sponsored website is a great idea that can benefit students and faculty, it will fail without participation from the entire Wash. U. community.

Students upload their old syllabi to the site, and professors opt in to the program, formally allowing the site to use their material. They are not required to upload their syllabi to the website. For Syllabi Central to succeed, more professors need to embrace this opportunity.

We also encourage professors to upload syllabi for future courses as well, especially as most syllabi are approved up to a year in advance of each course.

Creating a secure forum for students to gain insight into potential courses will not only give them greater insight into the course, but will also reduce the often dramatic fluctuations that can occur on a professor’s class roster. With talk of an extended the passing period from seven to 10 minutes to accommodate the growing Danforth Campus, the decreased shopping period could also increase classroom time, giving instructors the ability to cover everything they set out to teach.

While some professors may use their own websites to post their syllabi and readings, Syllabi Central offers a far more secure option. It is WUSTL Key protected, which prevents copyright violation, and will make the site easier to manage and supervise.

We also believe that all students should request that their professors and deans upload course information. An old syllabus can benefit students in a real way and be a resource in conjunction with other university initiatives to help students choose courses, including evaluations and WebSTAC. While WebSTAC provides course summaries, they vary greatly in depth of description and can be somewhat incomprehensible for those who haven’t taken the class. Syllabi Central, with our help, provides a way to remedy that.

Students can reduce the stressful experience of having to shop for classes by using Syllabi Central. For students who are taking a class with multiple sections taught by different professors, old syllabi can offer insight into each instructor’s teaching style and class structure. By making more informed decisions for future courses, students can have more time to shop for textbooks, read ahead or communicate with their professors before the year actually starts.

So far, the administration’s attempts to streamline its course listings and registration processes have been undermined by student efforts that are more user-friendly. We would like to applaud the decision to further incorporate student input into the school’s operations. Working with students such as Marcus and Novick to better the management of this institution is a step in the right direction. The University administration should be taking similar changes to incorporate the ideas of those who know what students want most—the students themselves.

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