As a teacher I’m always on the lookout for Mac software to help me teach—and help my students learn. Many schools use MacBooks, and it’s the platform of choice for high school and college students.
What students need is a straightforward way to manage classes, take notes, organize schedules, links, and files. My newest find is a Mac app called Syllabus, a one-size-fits-all classroom organizer.
Organized Students Perform Better
In 20 years of teaching I’ve learned a few things about student behavior. Smarter students can do well with less effort. Diligent students can become over achievers with more effort.
The best students are simply better organized.
Syllabus is one of a number of Mac apps which helps students get their classes, notes, and schedules organized.
As an app, Syllabus is simple enough for any student level, Middle School and beyond. If they can use a Mac, they can use Syllabus. The user interface is self explanatory. Courses. Professors. Files. Links. At a Glance (schedule).
Click to add a course. Click to add teacher information. Click to add files and links. For example, clicking on a specific course brings up the details for that class. Basic information, class syllabus, files, links, assignments, and notes.
Notes are sortable by date. Click the Plus sign, add notes, and the date is entered. The Syllabus accepts PDF files for the course. Simply drag the Syllabus into the course section and it’s always available. Ditto for files. Course links are treated the same way as notes and assignments.
Syllabus can be used by multiple students using the same Mac. Multiple school terms are supported, too. Assignments can sync with iCal, including calendar items.
Syllabus is a great learning tool which helps students to get and stay organized.
It’s easy to set up and use, even for Middle School students. Some college level students may find it to be a bit sophomoric.
The problems I see are two-fold. First, the setup for each course, requires some diligent effort on the student’s part. It would be good to have importable files which teachers can give to each student so they don’t have to enter the same thing manually with each course.
Second, there’s no search. Use Syllabus for a couple of years, and a few dozen classes, and it stores a lot of valuable information—which can’t be searched. However, the effect is a better organized student if they’re diligent enough to keep up with Syllabus.