Interactivity: The Vaccine for your Boring Syllabus

Concurrent Session 6
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Are you tired of receiving email after email asking you questions about material covered in the syllabus?  Are you looking for a better way to direct students to the important information they need to be successful in your course?  If so, then an interactive syllabus is the vaccine your syllabus needs to thrive in our new normal. 



Adam Davi is a Senior Instructional Designer at the University of Arizona who works with faculty to design engaging online courses. Adam has a Master of Science in Educational Technology as well as a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership. He has experience working directly with students as a teacher and learning specialist before transitioning to his role as an Instructional Designer. He is passionate about developing innovative courses that foster student success and promote ownership over one’s learning. He loves working in a field that encourages collaboration and creativity. When not working, he spends time volunteering for Arizona Camp Sunrise and Sidekicks, a children’s oncology camp, and enjoys playing games, watching baseball, and talking Star Wars with anyone who is willing to listen.
Adam is an Instructional Technologist at Pima Community College. He earned his Master of Arts Degree in East Asian Studies at the University of Arizona. During his Master's degree studies Adam focused on historical Chinese Chan (Zen) Buddhism. It was during his time as a graduate student that Adam discovered his passion for educational technologies. As a trained humanist, Asianist, technologist, and teacher, he seeks to incorporate simplicity and open-mindedness into all he does.

Extended Abstract

In online classes the syllabus is key for delivering important information to students.  Faculty often spend hours creating a comprehensive, well-organized syllabus.  Getting students to read the syllabus is another story entirely.  Faced with a generation who is used to Instagram, Tik Tok, and Twitter, it is evident that we need a new approach to reach students and meet them where they are.  The interactive syllabus is an approach that could accomplish just that.  Research shows quiz-based educational videos are most successful at fostering student success and engagement (Rice, et al., 2019). Furthermore, students have positive perceptions of interactive video and it has been shown to increase engagement in courses (Gedera and Zalipour, 2018). The interactive syllabus will help:

  • Focus student attention on the most important aspects of a course.

  • Draw attention to where students can find relevant information in your course.

  • Allow students to get to know your personality as their instructor.

  • Provide you with feedback you can use to gain a clearer understanding of what your students know about your syllabus.

In this session we will showcase an example of an interactive syllabus using PlayPosit, as well as best practices for integrating one into your already existing courses.  We will also discuss different free and paid options for incorporating the interactive features into your syllabus delivery.  

We will use PlayPosit’s synchronous interactive video presentation option, Broadcast, to create our interactivity. PlayPosit is an interactive video tool that allows learners to engage with what is being presented through interactions built over streamed videos. The Broadcast modality allows learners to use their own devices to interact with the presentation and answer questions that are displayed by the presenter. 

Using PlayPosit Broadcast in our remote learning environment, we will share our screen to display portions of our presentation including our co-designed interactive syllabus. Then, attendees will be asked to participate using their own devices by answering multiple choice, free response, check all, and fill-in-the-blank questions, etc. Attendees will only be required to go to a Bitly short URL to participate as no login is required. We will recommend attendees use a second device (phone, tablet, Chromebook, or computer) where possible to avoid having to switch between our shared presentation screen and the browser they will use to answer questions. More about using PlayPosit Broadcast in a remote environment can be found here:

After seeing an example of an interactive syllabus, presenters will share their plan and process for creating an interactive syllabus.  We will then engage participants in a discussion surrounding best practices for integrating an interactive syllabus into a course and highlight different methods for doing so.  With a variety of tools available to produce interactive content, we will explore different options to meet the needs of designers and faculty in different institutions. 

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Inject your syllabus with interactivity

  • Identify potential interactive strains (technologies) to infuse life into your syllabus

  • Examine your institution for the proper antibodies (tech tools for interactivity)

  • Diagnose aspects of your course that are crucial for student survival

    • Prescribe an approach for incorporating those into an interactive syllabus

Participants will leave the session with an outlined plan of how to design their own interactive syllabus using tools that are readily available to them.




Gedera, D. & Zalipour, A. (2018). Use of interactive video for teaching and learning. ASCILITE Open Oceans: Learning Without borders, Geelong, 2018. Geelong, Victoria, Australia, ASCILITE.


Rice, P., Beeson, P. & Blackmore-Wright, J. (2019). Evaluating the Impact of a Quiz Question within an Educational Video. TechTrends 63, 522–532.