Planning a curriculum can become a high-stakes project if you can’t keep track of all the relevant information. And there are so many pieces of information to organize: learning outcomes, courses, industry standards, regional and national accreditations, assessment alignment, and more.
Not only can a poorly constructed curriculum result in wasted time, money, and effort, but other consequences such as sinking assessment rates and rising attrition may also result from it. The reputation of your college or university could even be jeopardized.
From a big-picture standpoint, learning best practices can become lost in the shuffle while the work of curriculum planning is in progress. And preparation for accreditation can morph into a real challenge when you have to juggle multiple standards, degree levels, and types of programs. How can you possibly keep all the accreditation files in one place?
As you plan your curriculum, the question looming in the back of your mind is: we know the overarching goal but how can we be sure of what the curriculum is supposed to teach?
There is an effective way to keep all of the moving parts of a curriculum on track while working through the planning process. This method is known as curriculum mapping.
What Is Curriculum Mapping?
Instructors and administrators can ensure that their students learn what they need through curriculum mapping.
Simply put, curriculum mapping aligns teaching with learning outcomes.
A curriculum is diagrammed to discover and focus on academic inconsistencies, redundant content, and misalignments in order to improve consistency and effectiveness in a course of study.
Curriculum mapping is traditionally represented in the form of a two-dimensional matrix. On one axis program courses are listed. On the other axis are learning outcomes. The matrix can be represented in a spreadsheet or grid format.
Say, for example, that you need to map a curriculum for a university English department.
Instructors identify learning outcomes such as reading cultural and literary texts, being able to perform critical analyses of these texts, and writing clear, concise essays that are grammatically correct.
These outcomes might also reflect the depth of content complexity from introductory to advanced. Other metrics to be captured may include course breadth, depth, and assessment focus.
All of these components would be mapped to the core and elective courses in the program.
Why Curriculum Mapping Makes a Difference
Curriculum mapping provides an overview of a program that allows instructors to see both strengths and weaknesses.
Instructors also can gain insight into what students experience as they advance through a program. An added advantage is that instructors can better understand how and where the content they teach fits into the program.
As a result, they can get a much clearer idea of how the program is organized.
Student achievement is an essential goal of curriculum mapping.
If instructors can accurately define learning outcomes and map the progression of learning, the expectation is that students will be able to master course content. Students who have acquired the learning they need to succeed are more likely to complete the program, resulting in increased educational value and lower attrition rates.
Collaboration among all stakeholders in the curriculum mapping process improves as they decide on the key learning outcomes of a course. Regardless of whether instructors teach face-to-face, online, or blended courses, they have the opportunity to come together in the work.
Another advantage is that curriculum mapping holds all of the information related to the process in one place – from skills gaps to anytime/anywhere learning to assessment focus metrics and beyond. The flexibility of curriculum mapping also works for the wide range of files used for preparing for or renewing accreditation.
The structured, systemic nature of curriculum mapping lends itself well to better use of resources. Stakeholders can use their planning time more efficiently. And they aren’t wasting time looking for files, either.
How The Right Software Improves Your Process
By now, you know that curriculum mapping can significantly improve the coherence and the effectiveness of a course or program of study.
Specific strategies for mapping a curriculum vary among colleges and even departments.
Spreadsheets are a time-tested way to present curriculum maps, but they can be hard to use since they were originally designed for managing financial data. And sometimes meaningful insights in the process may be overlooked due to spreadsheets’ linear, two-dimensional nature.
These less user-friendly approaches have led many universities and colleges to turn to curriculum mapping software.
This approach has several advantages.
Because instructors can update a curriculum map in real time, it becomes a “living” document. Collaboration among instructors is improved because they can work together anytime, anyplace.
How CourseTune Can Help Make Curriculum Mapping Easier
A good curriculum mapping software offers the advantages above, while helping instructors match course and program goals with learning outcomes.
But the right software for curriculum mapping is:
Visually intuitive. Its interface gives users multiple perspectives that are easy to follow. You can see the big picture, but you can also drill down to the details when needed.
Relevant in its insights. Because of its intuitiveness, it provides information about the curriculum mapping process that a learning management system might miss.
Easy to integrate. Coordinating it with an existing LMS is straightforward.
Designed for adaptability. Face-to-face courses can easily be geared for on-line learning.
Flexible enough to handle changing goals. It can handle process growth and makes continuous improvement of curriculum mapping easier.
CourseTune is a curriculum mapping software that has been developed by seasoned educators who have experienced the many challenges of the process. They’ve used their knowledge to find ways that simplify and streamline this work. And they truly understand the strong connection between a properly aligned curriculum and a high-quality learning experience.
Your curriculum mapping experience can take a quantum leap forward with CourseTune.
Want to learn how it can work for you? Contact us for a free demo today.