Develop a Syllabus Markup Activity with CLAS

When: Wednesday, January 7 @ 1 – 2 PM
with Adrian Granchelli
This hands-on session is part of the First Week Faculty and TA Remote Teaching Boot Camp
sign up here

“It’s in the syllabus, did you read it?”


“Many students don’t see the syllabus as full of ‘promise’. It’s not exaggerating to say they often see the syllabus as a boring document that fails to provide meaningful guidance. Some of the (most of them?) don’t even read it.”
“One way to engage students in their own learning and with your syllabus is to solicit their active feedback and input on its content by having them annotate the document.”

(Darby & Lang, 2019, p. 172)

Students can:

  • ask questions about assignment or course policies
  • comment on major assignments
  • indicate where they have concerns
  • ask for potential tweaks
  • share practical advice with each other about how to be successful in the course
  • voice opinions on familiar texts and suggest supplemental ones or optional additions to the course schedule
  • discuss instructor and institutional policies to get at the nuances of how these play out in practice

(Darby & Lang, 2019, p. 173)

How-to Steps:

  1. Setup CLAS
  2. Import your syllabus as a PDF
  3. Set activity instructions and expectations for students

1. Setup CLAS

Request a CLAS for your course through this link:

Be sure to include the course and section number.
The Learning Centre will create you a CLAS within 24 hours that is auto-populated with your students.

You can add a link to CLAS within your Canvas course’s navigation pane. 
Navigate to your Canvas course -> Settings -> Apps -> Redirect Tool
Then insert the URL to the LFS CLAS site:

2.  Edit your syllabus and import it as a PDF to CLAS

In addition to your standard syllabus, you could include a goals contract at the end. Feel free to copy and paste the following from Darby & Lang (2019, p. 140):

I have read and understood the syllabus.
I carefully reviewed the course schedule and noted deadlines in my calendar.
I understand that to succeed in this class, I will work 6-8 hours per week on coursework.
I have scheduled time in my weekly routine to log into class at least four different days of the week, some of which are not consecutive.
I can and should post questions about the course in the Q&A forum on the discussion board.
I recognize and will utilize the various avenues of support if I start falling behind.

I have set the following two goals for myself, for this class:

3.  Set activity instructions and expectations for students

This activity can be conducted synchronously or asynchronously. 
To gain the most commitment from students, participation marks can be awarded.

Instructions can include:

This webpage walks you through how to annotate a document on CLAS:

Please read the syllabus. 
Please annotate any questions, concerns, or suggestions you have about anything you find in the syllabus.

Please agree to the course goals at the bottom by annotating "I agree"
Add two personal goals through annotation, that you set for yourself for this course 


Darby, F., & Lang, J. M. (2019). Small Taeching Online. San Francisco: A Wiley Brand.