CETLA Wins National Recognition for Its Syllabus Database
(Pittsburgh, PA) - On Saturday, October 27, the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network honored Howard University´s Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Assessment (CETLA) for developing an innovative syllabus database. The database earned the faculty development center a certificate for becoming a finalist in the national competition for POD´s Innovation Award. CETLA designed the syllabus database to help faculty exchange teaching ideas, students select courses, administrators review the curriculum, and accrediting bodies assess programs. At the same time, the database protects intellectual property and provides convenient access via Banner, Howard´s course registration system.
Designed in 2004, CETLA´s database is one of the first university-wide syllabus databases in the United States. It is unique because it allows users to search not only by dates, names, numbers, course titles, and other standard identifiers but also by a range of years and instructional methodology (e.g., problem-based learning or writing across the curriculum). It interfaces with Banner for security, standardization, and ease of use as well as convenience. Moreover, it protects intellectual property not only by password-protecting posting and searching, but also by preventing the downloading, copying, editing, printing, emailing, and even "screen capturing" of syllabi without the authors´ permission.
To post syllabi in the database, faculty simply copy and paste their syllabi. (For illustrated instructions, see http://www.cetla.howard.edu/announcements/tutorials/syllabus/
post_ur_syllabus.html #instructions.) This process is fast and easy since Banner automatically fills in most of the fields. Since CETLA "rolled out" the database to the campus in Fall 2005, faculty have voluntarily posted more than 1,000 syllabi. In the long run, if most faculty post their syllabi, the database will save the University time and money because no one will have to store and search through hundreds of paper syllabi. The database can also reduce costly duplication of courses.
Recently, more and more accrediting bodies have expressed an interest in databases like CETLA´s since such databases can facilitate the work of self-study committees and accrediting agencies. In fact, Howard´s accrediting body, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), invited CETLA to exhibit its database at MSCHE´s annual conference in 2005.