Utah State University Licenses Syllabus Software to Oasis4HE

Oasis4HE, a limited liability company, is pleased to announce it has licensed SALSA, a web-based application for creating syllabi, from Utah State University.

Oasis4HE was formed to house the SALSA project for its next phase, which includes supporting the open source application and current clients, and developing enterprise-level software as a service (SaaS). The SALSA project at USU’s Center for Innovative Design & Instruction was established in July 2013 with Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) funding, and successfully completed in January 2015.

Lisa Hancock, director of student orientation and transition services for USU, says the school began using the SALSA software to handle syllabi and scheduling for the fall 2014 USU 1010 Connections Course. More than 2,300 Connection students will receive a SALSA (styled and accessible learning service agreement) this fall.

“It helps us manage the schedules and objectives of all 74 pre-semester sections,” said Hancock. “All instructors teach a set of core curriculum topics, and SALSA lets them click and drag those onto their schedule so they can easily see what they need to teach.”

Connections’ custom version of SALSA also helps instructors schedule supplemental workshops and activities using a real-time integration with Google Calendar. Information from the SALSA schedule is sent to a table that lists each topic taught in the section, how it maps to one or more Connection objectives, and the scheduled activity time.

“SALSA has been an effective course management tool, as well,” said Hancock. “The Connections committee is able to pull up each SALSA syllabus/schedule and approve each one in a short amount of time.”

Linda Wapelhorst, director of Butler Community College Online in El Dorado, KS, said the ease of creating a syllabus is one of the biggest advantages of using SALSA. Additionally, SALSA encourages instructors to take a closer look at their syllabi, rather than simply changing dates each semester.

“Using this software has brought about a lot of positive change,” said Wapelhorst. “Faculty are thrilled that they no longer need to submit their syllabi separately. We are now seeing more uniformity with syllabi, which really does help the students.”

SALSA integrates seamlessly with Canvas, a learning management system (LMS) created by Utah-based Instructure. LMS’s are for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of electronic educational technology education courses or training programs.

“The SALSA Syllabus Tracker makes it simple to determine if a syllabus is in the Canvas course and published or unpublished,” said Wapelhorst. “This is a true time saver for Butler.”

George Joeckel, instructional designer at USU and founder of Oasis4HE, says the SALSA project will continue to develop and maintain the open source code, while building a scalable service that will support syllabus customization, administration and reporting for an institution’s internal and external stakeholders.

“As we move forward with the development of an enterprise-level SaaS, our open source syllabus solution will remain the foundation,” said Joeckel. “My passion for the syllabus is driven by a student’s right to make education decisions based on up-to-date information in a usable and accessible format.”