Syllabus Management| News

Webster U Organizes Classes with Intellidemia's Syllabus Program

Webster University, which has 100 campuses and 21,000 students around the world, has selected a syllabus management system to ensure consistency among all of its locations. The St. Louis-based university licensed Intellidemia's Concourse based on the recommendation of a selection committee composed of people from academic affairs and IT. Initially considered specifically for the School of Business, the program has been made available to all faculty.

Before selecting Concourse, the university built a collection of syllabus templates in house. "Ideally, the ... school wanted a syllabus tool that gave administrators the ability to easily search, approve, and report; assessment and accreditation were the key motivators," said Brad Wolaver, the School of Business faculty coordinator. "We did develop a system, but it was not one that we could put our faith into."

What started as a small IT solution grew into a large scale project, requiring more resources than anticipated. "Webster needed a sustainable solution that didn't require extensive development, testing, and maintenance," said CIO Larry Haffner. "We didn't want to be in the business of creating and hosting syllabus software. We needed to find a vendor with a technology as robust as their expertise in understanding syllabus management." He added that the adoption of Concourse has freed the IT department to focus on other work.

The company that developed Concourse was started in 2007 by two MBA students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. The application provides course management through a digital syllabus stored online. Program features include a syllabus editor that lets the faculty member add deliverables, evaluation criteria, policies, meeting times, office hours, information about books used in the class, and links to course materials. Events on the syllabus are turned into calendar appointments, which can be fed to Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook and automatically updated as events are changed. When the syllabus is modified, the application notifies students about the change. A search function allows the institution to preview the syllabus before registration, compile accreditation reports, and analyze the course for potential content duplication or gaps.

"We have been using syllabi for advisement for a long time," said Debra Carpenter, dean of Webster's School of Communications. "Concourse not only satisfies the needs of our school, but fellow deans are excited about the possibilities that exist for their schools as well."

Concourse is in use at Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, NY as well as Saint Leo University in Florida, among others.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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