Syllabus Hacking with Bryan and the bava

This entry is part 15 of 48 in the series Teaching Transparently

[note: this post has been sitting in draft mode for far too long. Bryan and Jim: I apologize. Time got away from me, but now that I am gearing up — and panicking– about preparing my own anti-syllabus yet again for HISP 205, I decided to bring this subject back to life. Or something. Feel free to add your 2 or 20 cents if I missed anything]

As part of the nmc summer 2010 conference, I had the good fortune to help coordinate and participate in a workshop entitled “Hacking Your Syllabus” with Bryan Alexander and Jim Groom.

Ah the syllabus… that sacred document that serves as a path, a beacon, a contract between student and teacher for the upcoming 16 weeks of the course…. or that thing your department chair asks you to hand in or put i a three ring binder so when the evaluators come (once every 5 yrs) they can see what you have done. Oh yeah, that…

Rather than me blathering away about what we did and what was said, I am posting here the Google Doc we created as part of the workshop and with the attendees. Of particular interest might be the links here to some of the different anti-syllabi that were shared and explored and discussed.

It’s impossible to retrace the entire workshop or the amazing, creative, dynamic flow of the conversations. (Jim Groom. Bryan Alexander. Let your mind roll on) This document grasps at some of that crazy, exciting goodness. And hopefully reminds us a little bit of all of the things we think the syllabus ought to do, but really doesn’t…or shouldn’t.

I plan to have this doc in one hand (along with a strong cup of coffee in the other ) while I begin to map out the next semester of HISP205. Between this document and the great ideas I am getting from being a part of the rollicking dls106 online learning adventure, I hoping for a great semester. I will keep you posted.

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Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!


  1. Bryan Alexander · January 28, 2011 Reply

    Can that really have happened so long ago?

    Discussions were terrific. You participants – you know who you were – did a great job of driving us forward.

    Well, looking back, I admit to wondering about how far syllabus hacking can go. It feels largely individualistic, rather than strategic. Which isn’t a bad thing, just a useful limit to bear in mind, if right.

  2. Michelle Fisher · August 10, 2013 Reply

    I would love to be able to access your google doc. I am adjunct lecturer in art history in NY. Would you be willing to open it to others?

    • Barbara · August 10, 2013 Reply

      I just made it accessible to you. Please take a look and please let me know if you have any questions. Would love to talk about more about hacking!


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