Syllabus (Concourse)

Introduction

Concourse is a cloud-based syllabus management system that helps the School of Social Work (and other UMB schools) manage and maintain consistent, up-to-date, accessible syllabi that are responsive, viewable, downloadable and printable from most any device. Beginning in Fall 2020, the SSW will begin having all syllabi available to faculty and students via Concourse - from within their Blackboard courses. Instructors do not need to provide a separate PDF or Word document - all students can access the Concourse syllabus from your Bb course.

Instructors Please Note: If your Blackboard course is opening to your Concourse Syllabus (only) - we need to change the "Entry Point" within the Control Panel > Customization > Teaching Style setting in your course, so that your course opens to something else. See how below.

If the link to Concourse Syllabus in the left navigation bar is "available" - students can see the syllabus. If that link is unavailable, they cannot. That is the only way to manage student access. By default, that link is available, so by default, students can simply click to view your course syllabus. (Please note that Previewing your course in student mode will not work. You can trust that if the link to Concourse Syllabus is available, students can reach the syllabus.)

(Important Note: you always need to start in your Blackboard course and click to launch Concourse. If you leave a Concourse Syllabus tab open in your browser over night, and try to download the PDF the next morning, it will result in errors. You will be eventually logged out of Concourse and Blackboard after hours of inactivity, in which case you need to log back into Blackboard first, and then click the Concourse Syllabus link from Blackboard to log back into Concourse.)

Video Tutorial

In a hurry? Here's a quick video rundown on how to edit your Concourse Syllabus

Below is a demonstration of a syllabus walk-through demo

Quick Steps

Accessing a Concourse Syllabus

    1. Go into your course in Blackboard.

    2. Click on "Concourse Syllabus" in the left navigation near the top. This will launch Concourse syllabus and log you in right in your web browser. If you receive an error, we have not yet set up your class syllabus. Email ideateam@ssw.

    3. NOTE: by default you will have a separate syllabus for each section you teach. If you would like to have multiple sections of the same course use the same syllabus (so that you don't have to update more than once for changes) - please contact the IDEA Team to connect your multiple sections to one syllabus. Otherwise, you can complete work on 1 of them, and then use the Copy feature to copy all info into the other sections, but this will result in 3 separate, disconnected syllabi.

    4. To edit your syllabus, click the "Syllabus" menu in the upper left, and select "Edit". If for some reason you do not see the option to Edit and only see Print or Download, please contact the IDEA Team using the contacts at the bottom of this page.

    5. In Edit mode, you can edit any field that has a yellow pencil Edit icon, add your information, copy and paste from a Word document, and click Save to update. (You do NOT need to click "Save and Notify", but if you do, it will send an email to all people who have accessed the syllabus to inform them of the change.)

    6. Also in Edit mode, you can add any field that has a green + bar to add more information.

    7. Feel free to delete sub-item placeholders. You can use the red X icon to delete sub-fields, but we highly recommend against deleting the header rows (that have a red icon and yellow rule line under the heading name). If you do, you may lose anything in the sub-items, and we would have to work with the vendor to try to retrieve them, which may or may not be possible.

    8. To re-order items, use the purple up and down arrows. (Not all items allow this.)

    9. Students will always see whatever you have in the fields, so there is no need to download or upload anything. Just make sure the Concourse Syllabus in your Blackboard course is up to date - and alert students via email after you make any changes, so that they are aware.

    10. In succeeding semesters, you can use the "Copy" function to copy all the information from one course to another (or more). This will make it quite easy to update.

    11. Keep in mind that if students download and/or print your syllabus, any changes you make to the Concourse syllabus after that will obviously not be reflected in the downloaded PDF or printed version.

    12. Note: not all fields are eligible for updating. Some fields (such as course description, learning objectives, outcomes, and standard policies) are maintained by the school, Academic Affairs, IDEA Team, and/or your course or curriculum coordinator.

There is no need to upload a file or attach another version of your syllabus - students can view, print or download a PDF of the Concourse syllabus.

Note: student preview mode does NOT work to click on Concourse Syllabus, because it sets up a temporary login that is incompatible. You can trust that if the link is available to students, they can log in to view the syllabus.

Detailed Steps

Accessing a Concourse Syllabus

    1. Go into your course in Blackboard.

    2. Click on "Concourse Syllabus" in the left navigation near the top. This will launch Concourse syllabus and log you in right in your web browser.

    3. To edit your syllabus, click the "Syllabus" menu in the upper left, and select "Edit". If for some reason you do not see the option to Edit and only see Print or Download, please contact the IDEA Team using the contacts at the bottom of this page.

    4. Please keep in mind that if the link to Concourse Syllabus is visible and your course is available to students, students can see the syllabus as it is. You may want to hide the link while you working on the syllabus and/or until it is ready for them to open, and then unhide the link:

Also, notice the section navigator on the right side - where you can easily jump to any section of the syllabus:

In succeeding semesters, you can use the "Import" function to import all the information from an older version of your course. This will make it quite easy to build from and update.

There are 4 primary icons in the left side in Edit mode:

  • Re-order (purple arrow);

  • Edit (yellow pencil)

  • Remove (red x) and

  • a green bar with an item title and + sign to add a new item.

Editing

You can edit any field that has a yellow pencil Edit icon, add your information, copy and paste from a Word document, and click Save to update.

The "Notes" and other fields are seen by all, including students.

The "Comments" field at the bottom of each entry is ONLY seen by instructors/editors.

Tables

If you copy and paste a table in from a word document or PDF, often times the table will not copy in properly (with respect to column and row sizing). Although repairs can be made from within Concourse, we have had much greater success copying the table into Google Docs first and making the adjustments, then copying that content from Google Docs into Concourse.

Deleting

In terms of Deleting, while you can certainly delete sub-items, we highly recommend NOT deleting the header rows - that have a small red icon and yellow rule line under the name. Doing so may mean losing your work, and may require IDEA Team to work with the vendor to re-instate the header rows.

In the image below, you may want to delete the "Office Hours" and "Instructor/Professor" sub-items, and simply edit the main "contact information" item to paste in everything from Word. While the current template has things broken out into multiple possible sub-items (and you can click the Green + box to add a sub-item) - you could just remove those and edit the Header rows, pasting in your info from Word.

Re-Ordering

You can re-order some sub-fields that allow it, using the purple up/down arrows.

Weekly Schedule

The way is is configured by default, there are both an example table in the main Schedule item, as well as a sub-item demonstrating a single weekly lesson. You can either a) paste in your entire schedule table from your Word doc (by editing the main Schedule item, removing the existing table, and pasting in yours) OR b) create individual weekly schedule items as separate items for each week.

If you do a., you will want to delete the given sub-item ("Class 1").

If you do b., you will want to edit the main Schedule item and simply remove the example class activities table.

This part is a little confusing, so feel free to reach out to IDEA Team for assistance! (ideateam@ssw.umaryland.edu; 410-870-9663).

General Notes

Note that not all items are editable, movable, or removable. Some fields (such as course description, learning objectives, outcomes, and standard policies) are maintained by the school, Academic Affairs, IDEA Team, and/or your course or curriculum coordinator. This is how we are able to maintain some school-wide and/or course-wide consistency for accreditation and archival purposes. If you find a need to edit any of these, please email Associate Dean of Academic Affairs (Amanda Lehning) with your suggested changes.

Our recommendation is that you remove all the uneditable fields from your Word document syllabus and only keep the sections that you maintain and change from year-to-year. You can then always copy and paste from your Word document into the Concourse Syllabus, OR you can discard your Word document and just import and edit directly in the Concourse Syllabus for each semester you teach.

Students will always see whatever you have in the fields, so there is no need to download or upload anything. Just make sure the Concourse Syllabus in your Blackboard course is up to date - and alert students via email after you make any changes, so that they are aware.

Have students viewed your Concourse Syllabus?

When viewing your syllabus you can click on the Users menu to see a list of the activity on your syllabus, including total # of views, timing of last view, whether the person has viewed your syllabus since the last changes that were made to it or not, and the roles of the folks who have accessed (students, instructors, etc.)

Save & Notify: Alerting Students of Syllabus Updates

Need to change due dates? Assignment details? Points? Policies? Any time you update your Concourse Syllabus, you have the option of clicking "Save & Notify" when you go to save the changes. The "notify" aspect will email all participants who have viewed your syllabus of the change, alerting them to log back in to view the syllabus again.

You can also insert a small note telling them details of what you changed:

Keep in mind that if students download and/or print your syllabus, any changes you make to the Concourse syllabus after that will obviously not be reflected in the downloaded PDF or printed version, but they can click Concourse Syllabus in your course at any time to see the most up to date version.

You can see these in action and more in both this January 2021 issueof Now That's a Great IDEA- in the interview with Ericka Lewis, as well as in the video recording of the Concourse Syllabus Clinic that was held earlier in January.

Note

By default you will have a separate syllabus for each section you teach. If you would like to have multiple sections of the same course use the same syllabus (so that you don't have to update more than once for changes) - please contact the IDEA Team to connect your multiple sections to one syllabus. Otherwise, you can complete work on 1 of them, and then use the Copy feature to copy all info into the other sections, but this will result in 3 separate, disconnected syllabi.

There is no need to upload a file or attach another version of your syllabus - students can view, print or download a PDF of the Concourse syllabus.

Copy from a Prior Semester or Another Course

Use the Copy function to copy your prior work from a previous semester to the new one.

(https://intellidemia.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360048772854-Copy-Syllabus-Content)

Start by going into your new course, and opening the Concourse Syllabus link, which will contain a mostly blank template. Click the Syllabus menu in the upper left and choose Copy

Most likely you will want to choose the first option, to "Copy From" an older semester or another syllabus to this new one. This is what we recommend!

NOTE: it is very important that you copy in the correct direction - FROM your old (complete) syllabus TO your new (incomplete) syllabus. If you happen to COPY in the wrong direction and overwrite an old syllabus with a new one, the IDEA Team will need to reach out to the vendor to restore your old syllabus and it will take some time to get it manually restored into the system. If you are unsure, please reach out to IDEA Team for assistance the first time you copy and we will walk you through this process.

Use the Keyword search box to search for a prior course by entering some identifier and clicking Search. Or just click the Search button to see all your courses.

After locating the correct semester and/or section, click the blue Copy icon next to the course you'd like to copy syllabus information FROM

After you click the Copy button, you will see a screen where you can verify where it is copying FROM and where it is copying TO. Read that carefully to make sure you are copying in the correct direction, so you won't copy over something you wanted to keep!

Then, once verified, check the boxes of the items you want to copy.

When all set, click the Copy button at the bottom to complete your copy.


Blackboard Course Opens to Concourse

If your Bb course is opening to concourse, (and you can't see anything else) - it is probably because normally it would open to "Course Materials" - but your course materials folder was either emptied or deleted, so Blackboard defaulted the "entry point" to Concourse and your course navigation seems to have disappeared. This usually happens during the Course Copy process when you copy in content from your old course and replace, empty or remove folders - particularly the current Entry Point item. Here are the steps to fix this:

Click the 2 small squares in the upper left

A pop-out window will appear with your entire course navigation. Make it larger by dragging the corner and/or scroll all the way down to the Control Panel and open Customization - to find the Teaching Style link

Click the Teaching Style link - and use the Dropdown next to "Entry Point" to choose something else besides Concourse Syllabus. Typically we recommend for this to be Course Content, Course Modules, or Announcements. But, note, that folder must have something in it (and something must be available to students) or it will not show up as a choice.

Click Submit.

Now your course will open as it normally would, to a content folder or Announcements.

Click the name of your course at the top left to go to the course home. Your course navigation will be there.


Note

Student preview mode does NOT work to click on Concourse Syllabus, because it sets up a temporary login that is incompatible. You can trust that if the Concourse Syllabus link is available to students (which it is by default when we create the courses), and when you click it, you see your own course syllabus, students can log in to view the syllabus.