Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Best Assignment Ever: Liquid Syllabus

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I think I just ran the most amazing assignment ever. I asked my students to liquefy the syllabus of our course.

Thanks to the amazing @brocansky who inspired this by her post on the Liquid Syllabus.

Basically, our creativity course is 3 modules, so I asked students to work in pairs (a few worked individually) to liquefy the syllabus in two ways:
1. Make it more multimedia and engaging (that’s the part inspired by Michelle Pacansky-Brock above)
2. Change a couple of assignments to make them more engaging.

I haven’t taken permission from students to quote them yet, and some of the assignments still reside in my email rather than linked on their blogs, but you can find most of them or at least their reflections on them here:
Http://www.creativitycourse.org

Meanwhile, what I found most inspiring in this assignment is:
1. Students feeling empowered to be in the teacher’s shoes while maintaining their student perspective;
2. Students making truly good suggestions, including a very humorous hack of my own module (only one student did this actually, brave soul)
3. Really different and cool multimodal ways of representing the course.

Most importantly, I think it offered a refreshing insight into how the students perceive the course and how they’d consider changing or improving it. Better than a more direct assessment where you ask them directly, you know?

I hope my co-teachers will consider incorporating some of the students’ suggestions into future iterations of the course. I know I will for mine, and I would for others 🙂

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12 Comments

  1. @brocansky it started as a lazy way to get free labor for making my syllabus better – but now i find it was empowering for the students!

    via twitter.com

  2. @Bali_Maha I liked the idea of “Liquid Syllabus”…

    via twitter.com

  3. Wondering if incorporating the students suggestions into a new syllabus doesnt just repeat the fixed syllabus? Maybe the students’ suggestions could be a gallery, or a map, of forks in the syllabus, and what goes back into the core syllabus is the notion of liquidity, built in as a kind of expectation, or a sense that from Day 1 this is their syllabus (and the gallery shows them how others addressed that)

    • Hiya Nick, actually my first iteration of commenting on Michelle’s liquid syllabus up (blogpost of mine a few months ago) said sthg similar: let the syllabus be changeable (I already used to do syllabus as google doc but students had never edited it – i do let my teaching emerge, tho, so assignments, deadlines, evaluation criteria, and in-class activities change as i teach in the semester.
      One pair of students made their liquid syllabus as a blog with blogposts for each assignment so students could comment and give feedback on assignments. I love that they reached this on their own. But you’ve taken this all further into the notion of forking which i really like (someone made a similar comment on twitter btw – forking seems to be the word of the month?)

  4. Pingback: 5 Ways to Make End-of-Semester Grading More Enjoyable – ProfHacker - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education

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