Think your team is too small to make a difference in your curriculum design? Do you wonder how two people make a meaningful difference on a college-wide curriculum design project? Ashley Ehmig, Director of Library Services and Instruction, and Amanda Lattin, Professor and Aromatherapy and Spa Management Program Chair, at the American College of Healthcare Sciences had the vision to do just that. Together, Ashley and Amanda created a spark that ignited an extensive curriculum alignment project. Their energy, collaboration, and transparent communication inspired significant engagement and contribution from ACHS program chairs and academic leadership. The team used CourseTune to focus their vision and align course and program outcomes across their institution.
ACHS is an accredited online college with students and graduates across the U.S. and around the world. ACHS’s expert faculty are industry leaders across all sectors of integrative healthcare and sustainable business. ACHS offers certificates, associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in multiple fields, including holistic nutrition, aromatherapy, and MBAs in Sustainable Business and Integrative Health and Wellness.
Amanda and Ashley wrote about their experience of working with CourseTune. We thank them for sharing their perspectives below.
Achieving Innovation While Maximizing Tools and Skills
The last two years have been an adventure working with Ashley Ehmig on this outcomes and assessment project for the Center of Excellence in Teaching, Technology, and Assessment (CETTA) at ACHS. The CETTA team at ACHS comprises academic leadership, including program chairs, instructional designers, academic deans, and student services representatives. In our meetings, the team agreed we needed to develop a new system for tracking the alignment of all our learning outcomes from the institutional level down to the course and module level.
ACHS prides itself on being an innovative small institution. We work hard to maximize our tools, systems, and personnel. The group agreed that Ashley and I would work together using my aromatherapy programs as a sandbox to see what solutions we could create and bring back to the team for review.
Building a Team Around Strengths and Passion
Ashley and I make a unique collaborative team. She is the Director of Library Services and Instruction, and I am a Professor and the Aromatherapy and Spa Management Program Chair. My graduate work focused on curriculum development, particularly on types of assessments and their roles. Ashley has a background in instructional design, a passion for library science, and had recently participated in a WASC training titled “Program Reviews that Matter: Advanced Topics in Assessment.”
At most institutions, we may not have had the opportunity to work together on a project such as this. But, we saw this as an opportunity rather than a hindrance. We both had insights into our students, faculty, and staff’s needs and were familiar with ACHS programs, curriculum, and culture.
Our passion and commitment to discover solutions that served our institution at each level was the source of the motivation to bring this project to completion. We also had the great benefit of receiving feedback from all the other program chairs and academic leadership at each stage of the process.
Creating a Foundational Curriculum Map in CourseTune
When we began this project, Ashley and I worked to perform a program review of the Certificate in Aromatherapy in my department. We wanted to create a curriculum map of that program and align all the learning outcomes from the institutional level to the module level. We wanted to build this map for documentation purposes and guide revisions to curriculum, assessments, or even the outcomes themselves. We quickly discovered the massive Google Sheet system we initially developed to do this was time-consuming, cumbersome, and difficult to update or analyze.
We went back to the CETTA team with our findings, and this was when the search for a technology solution began. Our COO, Tracey Abell, had seen a Coursetune demonstration at the DEAC 2019 workshop and was impressed with their approach and the groundbreaking visual mapping system they had created. Once Coursetune gave our team a demo, it was love at first sight for Ashley and me; we knew immediately CourseTune provided the tools our institution needed to create the outcomes and assessment solutions we sought.
Implementing CourseTune Across ACHS
Finding CourseTune was the first step, and implementing it across our programs has been a second adventure all its own. But, I can honestly say without the CourseTune platform, the project would not have moved forward, much less come to fruition on such a quick timeline. I have immensely enjoyed working with Ashley and the CourseTune team throughout 2020 as we learned how to use CourseTune, bring all the ACHS curriculum over to CourseTune, and train our academic leadership on how to use the platform as well. We now have real-time curriculum mapping! The implementation process is still ongoing, but the sky’s the limit! We could not have achieved these goals without all the program chairs’ hard work in aligning the courses and programs.
In my collaboration with Ashley, we listened to each other’s perspectives, committed to open, transparent, and frequent communication with each other and the other ACHS teams to highlight each others’ different strengths and share our knowledge. Whenever we got discouraged or overwhelmed, we refocused our motivation around our original goals. We both have grown and can’t wait to learn more!
As the Director of Library Services and Instruction at a small online holistic healthcare college, my job duties vary from managing the library to curriculum development and design. When the responsibility of tackling our assessment and outcomes projects blossomed, I felt inspired to take it on, but I knew I could not tackle it alone.
The background behind pursuing CourseTune came when Amanda Lattin, Professor and Aromatherapy and Spa Management Program Chair, wanted to use her Aromatherapy program as a sandbox to align and assess outcomes. We specifically used this program because it was undergoing a program review at the time. Our first attempt at aligning the outcomes began in a large Google Sheet. We spent numerous hours organizing the sheet and quite frankly kept getting overwhelmed with such a large amount of data. Thus, this is when we began pursuing systems to manage this data, and CourseTune was adopted. Currently, Amanda and I work collaboratively with all ACHS program chairs to align all course and program outcomes in CourseTune.
CourseTune Builds Collaboration and Encourages Communication
It is impressive how some professional relationships work out. Amanda Lattin and I have a unique collaborative relationship. First, we always listen to each other and highlight each other’s strengths. I understand it can be daunting working with another individual in a professional environment, but sometimes it just clicks. We are both individuals who are passionate about seeing projects to completion and like a challenge.
Additionally, we are both communicators. We communicate project progress well with each other, our leadership team, and our team members. We meet weekly to discuss the project and divvy up the tasks based on each other’s schedule for that week and strengths. Personally, tackling this project with Professor Lattin allowed me to attain a leadership role in a brand new education realm with another leader. As an educator, lifelong learning is a passion.
See More of the ACHS Story
We were thrilled to have Amanda and Ashley present at Coursetune Camp 2020. They shared the benefits of a single platform for outcome and assessment documents. You can watch their presentation here.