My syllabus workshop group was incredibly helpful and provided excellent feedback (thanks, Shannon and Patricia). They raised a lot of good questions that I've tried to think about and accordingly incorporate the results into my syllabus - I think the document now has more clarity, a more consistent tone, and a better balance between authority and student autonomy. One question I haven't been able to resolve for myself is about classroom technology: do I allow my students to use laptops in class? On my previous draft, I avoided the issue all together, not having any particular policy at all. Obviously not the best idea--I'm a firm believer in putting it all in writing so a student can't fight it later because "no one ever told me."
I've come up with a brief policy, but I'm still not happy with it, because there are so many potential situations that could arise that I'm not yet prepared to address or have a policy for:
Technology in the Classroom
You may use a laptop in class during writing exercises only; if you use your laptop for any non-class related activities during class, you will no longer be allowed to use it in this classroom. Please turn off all cell phones, iPods, and other devices during class.
I didn't include the possibility of using a laptop for note-taking or reading PDFs; I hesitate to open the door for these practices but may need to say something about them. Also, I didn't directly address laptop needs for disability accommodations -I thought just having a blanket Disability Services policy would be sufficient, but maybe I should include this info?
Luckily, I've still got a month before this thing needs to go live, so I'll spend some time finessing this section. I want to be inclusive without being wimpy or dragged out. Any suggestions?