Here’s a hypothetical situation: you recently came into some money and have decided to build a house. Coincidentally, your institution has also tasked you with creating a new program that is well-aligned with new professional standards. Are these two projects that different?

As you set out to build a house, you first buy a plot of land. Then you go talk with an architect or a builder to get started on set of blueprints. You’re going to work off that design until the design is the way you like it and then you and your builders bring that blueprint to the jobsite to begin construction. Sounds fairly straightforward, right? Very few people would second-guess your decision to have a high-quality, detailed blueprint that every worker can consult to better understand the ultimate goals of this construction project.

What we’ve done in education, especially in higher ed, is we buy the “jobsite” (which is the LMS, courseware product, or classroom) and then we show up and build. Is this an effective practice? What happens when we want to communicate ideas around course improvement? What about when regional accreditation standards change?

We get it. Curriculum is complex. There are countless interdependencies that can’t always be conveyed through spreadsheets and the linear, prescriptive LMS. Visualizing these interdepencies offers a new perspective, providing flexibility around design. It’s important that the underlying design principles for a house (working electricity and plumbing) work in all the houses. How are you monitoring the underlying design principles, goals, and outcomes for your curriculum? Academic freedom exists in how we structure and “design” the “rooms” of the house, but the design of those rooms is very much dependent on the underlying structure.

When we’ve created our structure, we understand that it needs to be maintained proactively (and sometimes reactively). Today in education, the trend is “data-driven decision-making” but very few schools have any data related to what they should change and why they should change it. We oftentimes don’t understand whether students are learning what they are supposed to learn because we don’t actually know what they are asking of students. Schools may know how many times students have clicked in the platform so there is all sorts of analytics around click data but there is no data around whether or not students are learning what the course set out to teach.

Most academic teams view their spreadsheets and their whiteboards as their blueprint, but we know there is a better way. Coursetune is just the first step on the journey to harmonizing your curriculum.