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Kenyon Wilson, a professor of performing arts at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, decided to test students on something very basic this year: reading the syllabus. “Free to the first who claims; locker one hundred forty-seven; combination fifteen, twenty-five, thirty-five,” read the passage in the syllabus. But as he told The New York Times, when the semester ended on Dec. 8, the cash was unclaimed.

“Teaching in a pandemic, I’m trying to do creative things and, you know, make it interesting,” he said. “The syllabus is a really dry document. I mean, it’s not supposed to be exciting to read, but I thought if my students are going through and reading it, I might as well reward them.”