10 Amazing Reasons to Buzzfeedify Your Syllabus

10 Amazing Reasons to Buzzfeedify Your Syllabus August 26, 2014

Beloit has released its annual mindset list, about the things that this year’s incoming freshmen take for granted (HT Inside Higher Ed). #2 (that’s “hashtag two” for you old-timers) is particularly interesting for educators: “Since they binge-watch their favorite TV shows, they might like to binge-watch the video portions of their courses too.” I’m giving students in one of my classes the means to do that this semester. There are others related to technology and habits, such as this one: ““Good feedback” means getting 30 likes on your last Facebook post in a single afternoon.”

How do we as educators appropriately adapt – and adopt relevant technology and vocabulary – so as to communicate effectively?

One thought that struck me was that it might be appropriate to “buzzfeedify” our syllabuses (don’t use “syllabi” – syllabus isn’t from Latin – and syllabodes is perhaps best avoided, since syllabus isn’t an authentic Greek word either). For some reason, the folks at Beloit haven’t figured out that they could call their mindset list “55 Reasons Professors Won’t Understand Today’s Freshmen.”

Buzzfeedification is already a widely-used word. I blogged last year about what a “Buzzfeed New Testament” might look like. Students are already familiar with headlines that grab their attention, and compared to that, a syllabus may just look like a mass of text with nothing that stands out.

Perhaps I should include subject headings that are more akin to what one finds on Buzzfeed – such as “Six Exciting Ways That Students Can Earn Points In This Class” and “This Group of Students Was Guaranteed to Fail the Course – Read On To Find Out Why.” And instead of “Provisional Class Schedule” I could go with “Can You Spot The Three Times Class Won’t Meet This Semester?”

Have any readers buzzfeedified a syllabus, or encountered a syllabus that was buzzfeedified? What do you think of the idea?

And of course, one can always follow the lead of their “If Movie Posters Were Honest” headline and write “If a Syllabus Were Honest” at the top of the syllabus…


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