Infographic Syllabi: Fun, Easy (no really!), and Engaging

A poster I whipped up in Canva to advertise a new class

Last fall we had a natural disaster that shut down our school for almost the entire month of September. I did not step foot on campus for the entire month, since for part of it I was in England for DaCNet and research. Once the immediate danger of Hurricane Florence was past us, the real waiting began for flood waters that creeped up and up into our town and over our roads for weeks after. Obviously, this was totally nerve-wracking, and I was unable to focus on any heavy research or writing, because I was constantly refreshing the NOAA flood table charts.

I decided to do something a bit more fun, relaxing (to me), and creative instead: I turned my Spring semester syllabi into info graphs. I had wanted to do this for a while and wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it, so I headed to the Google. I found this article, and this, which gave some overall tips and ideas. I am most familiar with the website Canva, so that is what I decided to use for this project. I started with a completely blank page on Canva, and just added the elements as I needed them.

Canva is great for making posters to advertise your classes online or in print, social media images to advertise conferences or workshops, syllabi, documents, resumes, whatever you want to design. It is also incredibly use friendly with drag and drop functions. You can download as PDFs, JPGs, PNGs, and more. I plan to use the syllabi I have already made in the future, and copy them to make a new document, to update and change information easily. To get started, open canva in your browser and create an account.

Now, I know the syllabus is the contract the drives the semester and needs to have all the pertinent information for a successful semester. We want to get every rule, regulation, policy, and code in there to avoid any issues we have had in the past. This leads to syllabus creep, and eventually a 14 page document of blocks and blocks of texts that I don’t want to revise every semester, and students certainly don’t want to read each semester. Paring things down was hard, but I managed to go from 6 pages of text, to 3 pages of syllabus, with a supplemental calendar on another page, and for my upper division class, a packet of readings information. I also make extensive use of our online platform, Moodle, which made paring the syllabus down a lot easier, too. In the digital version of the syllabus, you can also embed links, so students can easily access the full text of an attendance policy or find information about counseling or health services, or the writing and tutoring centers (also linked on Moodle).

Ok, so how did I actually do this? Basically I opened Canva, opened a new document, and just started dragging elements around to where I needed them. I knew I had to have the course description and SLOs per university rules, and I wanted my contact information to be easily accessible for students to find. Once I had those in place, I focused on what else I thought would be the most important: how they earn their grades, course requirements, and rules/policies (condensed and pared down). I think my favorite part is the academic misconduct section, with the little skull and cross bones. Canva also has charts you can insert that will do percentages and labels, for grading or other charts you want to include.

Within canva I was also able to create an “icon” of sorts for each class, based on the themes in that class. For the museums class, I used a museum emoji with a bunch of people, for Museums and Communities. For Great Debates in Public History, I chose icons that represented our topics: a mummy, historic buildings, and a park ranger.  The icons are on each page of the syllabus along with the course name, and one cool thing about these graphics is I was able to take the icons I made for each class and use on other platforms, like our Slack page, or for different sections of moodle for a “branding” technique. This way the class was always recognizable, even across the different websites we use.

Canva has a lot of icons to choose from in the free version, like the skull and crossbones and the museum; however, you can also upload any icons or images you have downloaded on your own device to use within the program. All of the circles, starbursts, boxes, and so on are available in the sidebar of the program.

My favorite page – POLICIES!! Just look at those sweet little skulls showing the doom that awaits plagiarizers.

I taught this style of syllabus design recently at a CeTeal professional development workshop on my campus, and some of the instructors there have really run with it! One of the theater professors is planning to make hers as a Playbill, for instance, and a literature syllabus could be designed as an old book. A geography or map class could be done in a series of maps… the possibilities are endless, really. Maybe in the future I will redesign my museum one to look like an exhibit in a room! The most important thing is to be creative and have fun.

I did not do any kind of official assessment on use of the syllabus this past semester, but it did seem that students asked less questions that were answered on the syllabus. I’m sticking with it, and will post my fall syllabi at the end of summer!

 

2018-2019 Academic Year in Review

Iceland is amazing! Go there!

As usual, the academic year caught up with me and threw me for a whirl. After a wild hurricane-riddled fall semester (one month away from campus!), and intense experiential learning semester in spring, and a well-earned holiday to Iceland, I am back again and ready to do this (at least until August).

Fall 2018

The fall semester was bizarre in many ways. The semester started out fine, with my usual Pre-Modern World survey, Intro to Public History, and a capstone for the MA in Liberal Studies. I headed off to DacNet and England the first week of September, and on the way home heard a hurricane was brewing. Hurricane Florence hit, and school was closed for 3 weeks. We came back the first week of October to try to recover some semblance of a normal semester. It went as well as it could, and everyone adapted, but it was far from a normal semester.

My Intro to Public History class went well, and I tried out a new project idea from Dr. Jamie Goodall which worked without a hitch. I was happy to have a couple of graduate students in that class. The class website included a space for blogs, which I will share over the coming weeks.

Yay Mandy! Enjoy MTSU!!

My MALS capstone student, Mandy Hamilton, worked on a very cool digital reconstruction project, which you can find here: https://amanda9917.wordpress.com. A very incredible piece of news, totally surreal for me, Mandy will attend MTSU in the Fall semester to pursue her Ph.D. in Public History with my dissertation advisor!

Spring 2019

The Spring semester was probably the best I’ve had yet as a professor.

I developed a new course on Great Debates in Public History and Cultural Heritage. This course was developed completely around Reacting to the Past pedagogy, in class debates, group presentations, and other in class activities. As part of this module in the course, I invited Chief Harold Hatcher of the Waccamaw people to visit the class and talk about his experiences as a Native American in our community. The “flipped classroom” nature of this course was challenging for me as an instructor, but many students seem to do more research and push themselves to see all sides of our historical debate topics in this class.

The most time consuming and impactful work I did in Spring 2019 was in my HIST392: Museums and Communities course.  HIST392 serves to introduce students to the museum world, museum theory and history, as well as museum work through a hands-on community project. For Spring 2019, I partnered with Dr. Carolyn Dillian’s ANTH432: Cultural Resource Management class, as a natural complement to our project.

Our project was to  create an exhibit for people with disabilities and sensory differences through 3D scanning and printing of artifacts in the Horry County Museum collection. The students created the exhibit from the ground up in conjunction with HCM, local community organizations and partners, and other stakeholders. Students were at the The South Carolina Federation of Museums annual conference in March to present their work, and also to attend the conference and meet museum professionals from the state and region. Additionally, a panel on our work has been accepted for the SouthEastern Museums Conference in Charleston in October, 2019.

Best partner in crime ever

Dr. Dillian and I applied for an received 2 grants for this project, a South Carolina Humanities MiniGrant of $2,000 and South Eastern Archaeology Conference $2,000. We received both grants to complete this project.

The exhibit, titled Printing the Past: SC in 3D opened April 30, 2019 at the Horry County Museum.  The course website and digital exhibit is online available at: www.printingthepastscin3d.com. More on this in the coming months, I am sure. 

Just look at these amazing colleagues and students!

Somehow this seems to be turning into a rehashing of my year-end eval for the school… I guess you can just check my updated CV if you really want the details on everything else I’ve been up to. There were publications, conference presentations, a book proposal, and so much more.

I’ll give more updates on all of this and that over this summer, I hope.

In the meantime, brace yourself for student blogs from the Fall semester, coming soon!

Fall 2017 Student Blog: Oral History

This is the fifteenth in a series of Tuesday re-blogs of my student work from our HIST395 course. Please enjoy these blogs written by Coastal Carolina University students.

This is the second blog by student Morissa Robinson about the importance of oral history. 

By Morissa J Robinson I recently worked on a project in one of my history classes that required us to dig up any information we could find on a person assigned to us and write up a biography entry. Easy, right? Well it wasn’t that simple. Some of us had first and last names to […]

via Why Oral History is Important — Journey into Public History

 

Fall 2017 Student Blog: Motor City Mayhem

This is the fourteenth in a series of Tuesday re-blogs of my student work from our HIST395 course. Please enjoy these blogs written by Coastal Carolina University students.

This is the second blog by student Dylan Livingston about museums in Detroit. 

By Dylan Livingston During this past summer, I traveled to Detroit, Michigan to visit my father and take a look into what he was working on for his job. Over the past year, my father was hired as the CEO of the Michigan State science center. One of my dad’s main objectives was to educate […]

via Motor City Mayhem — Journey into Public History

Fall 2017 Student Blog: National History Day

This is the thirteenth in a series of Tuesday re-blogs of my student work from our HIST395 course. Please enjoy these blogs written by Coastal Carolina University students.

This is the second blog by student Tori Peck about National History Day. 

By Tori Peck What is National History Day? It is an event that is independently sponsored by organizations that will hold local and state competitions where elementary, middle school and secondary school students present historical research done on a predetermined topic. Around 3,000 students attend the final competition and they come from all around the […]

via National History Day — Journey into Public History

Fall 2017 Student Blog: Archaeology and Public History

This is the twelfth in a series of Tuesday re-blogs of my student work from our HIST395 course. Please enjoy these blogs written by Coastal Carolina University students.

This blog is by student Bryan Maldonado about Archaeology and Public History.

By Bryan Maldonado DIRT: Archaeology, Artifacts, Bones, and Organizations Archaeology is the study of ancient and recent human remains or material like artifacts in order to get more information about the past culture and the way of life. Artifacts are more than just a rare or ancient object they also tell archaeologist a story or […]

via DIRT: Archaeology, Artifacts, Bones, and Organizations — Journey into Public History

Fall 2017 Student Blog: Battlefield Visits

This is the eleventh in a series of Tuesday re-blogs of my student work from our HIST395 course. Please enjoy these blogs written by Coastal Carolina University students.

This blog is by student Chris Colón about the importance of docents and interpretation at National Parks and Battlefields. 

By Chris Colón When I first became interested in history, I had realized that the reason I was so interested was the way in which my father would teach me about history. He made a great effort to teach me as if he were telling me a story. It was that storytelling aspect that made me […]

via Battlefield Tour Guides — Journey into Public History

Fall 2017 Student Blog: Lincoln Giants

This is the tenth in a series of Tuesday re-blogs of my student work from our HIST395 course. Please enjoy these blogs written by Coastal Carolina University students.

This blog is by student Lontay Greene about the Lincoln Giants.

By Lontay Greene Olympic Field sprouted the roots of a baseball team in New York, that would hold as much cultural impact in the Harlem Renaissance as the singers, poets, and writers. The Lincoln Giants entered the scene of Harlem in the year 1911, under the co-ownership of Jess and Edward McMahon. The Lincoln Giants […]

via Lincoln Giants — Journey into Public History

Fall 2017 Student Blog: Teaching History

This is the ninth in a series of Tuesday re-blogs of my student work from our HIST395 course. Please enjoy these blogs written by Coastal Carolina University students.

This blog is by student Morissa Robinson about teaching history and being a history major. 

 

By Morissa Robinson As a History major I am often asked, “What are you planning to do with that, teach?” The question is usually followed by a self satisfied smirk and the occasional rolling of the eyes. I have to admit the first few times this happened, my feelings were hurt. I would mutter a […]

via To Teach or Not to Teach, That is the Question — Journey into Public History

Fall 2017 Student Blog: NC Sports Hall of Fame

This is the eighth in a series of Tuesday re-blogs of my student work from our HIST395 course. Please enjoy these blogs written by Coastal Carolina University students.

This blog is by student Dylan Livingston about the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

By Dylan Livingston Founded in 1962, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, placed in the North Carolina Museum of History, has impressed and entertained North Carolina residents and travelers alike. The NC Hall of Fame is chalk full of amazing athletes and coaches detailing what they did for their school, their team and most […]

via NC Sports Hall of Fame — Journey into Public History