I really like this article from Inside Higher Ed (via Stephen Downes) that implicates the deficiencies of using course syllabi. Course syllabi can be seen as both a legal document as well as a pedagogical road map. However, in both cases, they are usually incomplete.
And to point to a couple of great quotes from the article:
“This is reason enough to be against syllabi; their presentation of a course as a fully reasoned, systematically organized thing is spurious. A course that is only its syllabus, day after day, is a course where spontaneity, improvisation, and risk have been banished. The loss is too great.”
“A map is not necessary for every destination. Some of the most memorable ones result from just getting lost.”
For those of you who teach in higher education, these are certainly points worth considering. And there is certainly something to be learned here regarding the development of online courses.