What a Million Syllabuses Can Teach Us

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/opinion/sunday/what-a-million-syllabuses-can-teach-us.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

“COLLEGE course syllabuses are curious documents. They represent the best efforts by faculty and instructors to distill human knowledge on a given subject into 14-week chunks. They structure the main activity of colleges and universities. And then, for the most part, they disappear.

Some schools archive them, some don’t. Some syllabus archives are public, some aren’t. Some faculty members treat their syllabuses as trade secrets, others are happy to post them online. Despite the bureaucratization of higher education over the past few decades, syllabuses have escaped systematic treatment.

Until now. Over the past two years, we and our partners at the Open Syllabus Project (based at the American Assembly at Columbia) have collected more than a million syllabuses from university websites. We have also begun to extract some of their key components — their metadata — starting with their dates, their schools, their fields of study and the texts that they assign.”


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