On Friday, ASNMU will officially launch the online syllabi database pilot-program in time for Fall 2008 registration.
The data pilot program will allow students to view the syllabus of a certain course before they take it, said Mary Raymond, chair of the online syllabi committee and senior business management and pre-medicine major.
Currently, only syllabi from 13 history courses are available for students to view and download. The hope is to have syllabi from the departments of modern languages and literatures, education and business online by the time course registration for winter semester 2009 begins.
The goal of the database is to inform students about course content, beyond what is already available in the undergraduate bulletin.
“As a student, if you’re not familiar with a department, like the history department, but you want to take a class to fulfill a liberal arts requirement, you don’t really know what you’re getting,” said Raymond.
ASNMU faced a problem of where to host the database so that only NMU students and faculty could see it. Faculty expressed concern about people besides NMU students seeing the database because the syllabi are the intellectual property of their creator.
“One of the big obstacles is making sure only NMU students and faculty could view the Web site . Eventually, we found out we could put it on our own Web site and limit IP [internet protocol] addresses,” said Raymond.
This means that the syllabi can only be accessed by computers connected to the Internet through the NMU network, said Neal Glatt, member of the online syllabi committee and senior marketing and Spanish major. It can also be accessed through the Nortel VPN Client for students who are not on campus. The HelpDesk can help students set the Nortel VPN Client up on their laptops, said Glatt.
The process began in the 2006-2007 academic year, but it was not until this semester that it really got off the ground, said Raymond. Many other universities have put their syllabi online, including Yale and Stanford Universities. ASNMU communicated with these schools and received guidance on the project from them, Raymond said.
Chris Storves, president of ASNMU, praised the program and the value of making the syllabi available to students.
“This is a fantastic program. Mary Raymond, Neil Glatt and everyone else on Academic Affairs have really done a fantastic job creating this database. ASNMU is geared towards helping students and this is another way to help students gather more information about classes when registering,” he said.
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Terrence Seethoff, also sees the importance of the history department placing some of its syllabi online.
“The History Department’s plans for online syllabi are right on target. Having the ability to retrieve a syllabus electronically fits nicely with our high tech environment at Northern, and I applaud the Department for this important step forward,” he said.
Students are encouraged to check back regularly, as the syllabi for more classes will be added in the near future. The ASNMU online syllabi database can be viewed at http://asnmu.nmu.edu/syllabi.