Creating Consistent and Compliant Syllabi with CourseLeaf


Azusa Pacific University (APU) was dealing with the outcomes of decentralized syllabi creation and storage. “There was no central place for syllabi management. No system in place. The entire process was challenging,” said Brian Mercer, Director of the Office of Curricular Support. Despite the best efforts of staff, instructors, and department administration the missing connection between approved curricular content and syllabi continued to be a roadblock for compliance and made reaccreditation a more complicated, difficult process. When preparing for accreditation in 2013, APU’s administration requested departments submit examples of their best syllabi. “We got around 200. We read every single one, and only 1 out of the 200 syllabi were compliant—and that syllabus was probably one of the simplest,” said Mercer. The Office of Curricular Support began searching for a solution which would connect their curricular content, consistently and accurately convey policy, and relieve the administrative burden on instructors.

"We have our WASC visit in two and a half years and the ability to be confident that every syllabus they might find will be accurate and compliant will save us hundreds and hundreds of man hours." - Brian Mercer, Director of the Office of Curricular Support

APU approached CourseLeaf and discussed their need for accurate, compliant syllabi with a streamlined development process. “Our School of Nursing was just about to buy another vendor’s solution, but I approached CourseLeaf to see if there was a better way to fix syllabi,” said Mercer. In collaboration with CourseLeaf staff and peer institutions, APU helped to shape a syllabi creation, management, and storage solution which integrates with curricular, learning management, and other campus systems of record, “a syllabus is pointless if it isn’t coming out of the curriculum solution. CourseLeaf is the only one with the curriculum system that fully integrates with a syllabus. That is pretty life changing in our little world.” Centralized storage and administrative reporting will also dramatically change APU’s accreditation planning and experience.

APU also needed a better way to create and update syllabi, saving instructor time and energy. “If you are not a Microsoft Word specialist, the syllabus can be an enormous nightmare. We get too many stories of faculty scheduling courses on Thanksgiving or missing a specific holiday,” said Mercer. Automating integration with data and content across campus will also reduce time spent on data entry, consistently convey policy, and ensure accuracy of course information. “If you take a course one semester to the next, just changing the calendar is an hour-long process and is still prone to inaccuracies. What used to take an hour to change, plus being inaccurate, now will take instructors 20-30 seconds,” said Mercer. The easy, intuitive interface will simplify how APU’s faculty create and update syllabi, far outpacing desktop publishing tools like Microsoft Word. “I think we will give (faculty) 8 hours of their life back each year. I don’t know what other software which will have that tangible benefit.”

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