Dish Up Your Syllabi with Google Docs

A couple years ago, I did away with the static PDF files and began presenting my syllabi as dynamic web pages on Moodle.  This approach allowed me to more efficiently update the parts of my courses that inevitably evolve during the semester, build in links to content on my Moodle course sites, and make a more cohesive set of online resources for my students.

And then I got a little friendlier with Google apps.  In general, I’m not a fan of web apps – I find working in browsers sometimes cumbersome – but I have to admit that Google has engineered some tools that really do make my life easier. Google Docs, in particular, is now my go-to app for all things course syllabi.

Screenshot as syllabus as a Google Doc
The Google Docs app features a convenient Outline for navigating your syllabus or assignment.

If you took my earlier advice (and even if you didn’t), here are five reasons to switch to using Google Docs for prepping and dishing your syllabi:

  1. Google Docs affords flexibility in updates, easy linking to assignments, and semester-to-semester reproducibility.  Inserting links to web resources, including other parts of your course Moodle site, is much easier in Docs than in the Moodle “page” feature.
  2. Google Docs will automatically make a table of contents for your syllabus.  How cool is that? (But you can turn it off, if you don’t think it’s cool.)
  3. Syllabi made in Google Docs are easily formatted and archivable for tenure and promotion review.
  4. Editing and formatting your syllabus in Google Doc is less complicated than the Moodle page feature.  (Many of your accumulated word processing skills are laterally transferable to the Google Doc environ.)
  5. Google Docs are easy to share with students and colleagues outside your course.  In contrast, it is often difficult and sometimes impossible to share Moodle content with folks who are not enrolled.

    Screenshot of sharing doc
    The shareable link to your Google Doc syllabus can be posted on your Moodle course site.

Next semester, try making your syllabus in a Google Doc.  Post the shareable link on your course Moodle page.  Let me know how it works out.


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