What You Don’t Know About Your Curriculum
By Kristin Powers
October 29, 2021
What Lurks in your Curriculum?

What’s hiding in your curriculum?

We love the cooler weather, colorful leaves, and family gatherings (with tasty food) that come with this season. Continuous improvement for your curriculum doesn’t take a fall break. If your curriculum has been gathering cobwebs, it’s time to go on the hunt for mysterious gaps, wretched redundancies, and dark data that might be haunting your courses. Are you ready to uncover what you don’t know about your curriculum using Coursetune?

Mysterious Gaps

When sitting around a campfire exchanging spooky stories with our fellow curriculum nerds, we often hear about the surprising things clients find in their curriculum once they have transformed it with Coursetune. Course elements that they thought were documented had vanished, assessments they knew existed couldn’t be located, or entire mappings to outcomes were lost in the dusty crypts full of forgotten curriculum binders. They didn’t know what was missing until they put all their data into Coursetune. 

Michael Hower, Lt Col, USAF (Ret.), Strategic Advisor at Air University/ASU Partnership“I’ll tell you, once you get started adding activities, and you properly train the faculty to use them, you certainly won’t want to go back. The data and the visualizations are incredible. We’re starting to look at our courses in a completely different way. I started to see holes in requirements and engagement that we’ve never been able to see before,” Michael Hower, Lt Col, USAF (Ret.), Strategic Advisor at Air University/ASU Partnership, explained in his Coursetune Camp 2021 presentation about strategic planning and growth. Mike emphasized that everyone can agree on what needs to be improved because it’s a visual layout. 

When gaps are identified, learning opportunities for faculty follow. Colleen M. Culley, PharmD, BCPS at University of Pittsburgh, School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics described helping a fellow faculty member after she added her course into Coursetune, “I was able to visually show her where there were some gaps and try to help her to remap and improve the course outcomes and the learning objectives within the course.” 

Colleen and Mike have been using Coursetune as a training tool to support faculty in balanced course design. Colleen shared her grassroots effort to grow Coursetune usage in her Coursetune Camp 2021 presentation.

Wretched Redundancies

Duplication works well for Twix bars but not so well for balanced course design. If your course graph in Coursetune looks stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey with repeated learning objectives, you may have redundancies cluttering your course. 

You reduce the number of repeated learning objectives by looking for the ones with the highest learning scale scaffolding. Here is a helpful guide to duplicate learning objectives. Duplication can happen beyond a single course when a program or grade level curriculum gets imported into Coursetune. 

Seeing a collection of courses together in Coursetune gives faculty a novel opportunity to inquire how their course relates to all the others it sits among. How many times do students have large project-based assessments due? How often are students being assigned passive activities? These questions that were once unanswerable can be solved with Coursetune. What a treat that you can use the activity reports, universal search, and different views in Coursetune to seek out these redundancies at different levels. 

Fort Hays State University has been using Coursetune to create new programs and improve existing ones. “A faculty member who was struggling in developing her course was frustrated. The first module she was using in the course was something that she was frustrated to be doing because she didn’t feel it was really part of the course flow. And it was preventing her from getting to where she needed to go in the course,” explains Andrew Feldstein, Assistant Provost for Teaching Innovation and Learning Technologies, Fort Hays State University

“When we went through program development [in Coursetune], and faculty were sharing their courses,” Andrew continues, “She discovered that the previous course was already dealing with material she worked with in the first part of the course. She was so relieved that she could remove that from her course because the other was a prerequisite students had already met. It was something she hadn’t been aware of until we were able to start collaboratively putting this program together.” 

This story was one of the positive Coursetune outcomes Andrew shared. The Fort Hays team shared their insights on instructional design with Coursetune at our annual Coursetune Camp event.

Without a single curriculum database, you may never find redundancies. It’s impossible to search across multiple binders or read faculty members’ minds. To ensure students are being taught the skills they need, faculty must be clear on what they are teaching. 

John Jacobs, Training Manager for the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training explained an issue they had before Coursetune, “We had a limited way to report on what we were doing, and we found that our instructors were reteaching topics because they weren’t aware of the other classes that had already covered that.” 

Dark Data

Shadow curriculum, course bloat, and course drift are all examples of curricular data going astray from the intended outcomes. These issues can confuse teachers and students leading to murkiness about what’s being taught and why. These occurrences are prevalent in curriculum that isn’t part of continuous improvement. The only documentation is a ten-year-old syllabus from a faculty member who no longer teaches there. 

For most faculty, the first time they hear about these issues is from their students. If you’ve ever been asked, “Will this be on the test?” then you know your students are seeking clarity in the curriculum. By using Coursetune for alignment and mapping to outcomes, you can avoid dark data and support your students for better learning outcomes.Quote from Michael Hower, Lt Col, USAF (Ret.), Strategic Advisor at Air University/ASU Partnership

Western University’s School of Education recently shared their story involving graduate students that uncovered these issues and solved them in Coursetune. When looking at their teacher education curriculum in Coursetune, they started to see why students had felt overwhelmed and lost. 

“Some of those subject courses didn’t indicate in the mappings that they studied curriculum (as a topic). And I mean, they must, they do; it’s in the title of the course. But it just wasn’t checked, or mentioned, or included in the syllabus. That becomes a glaring hole when you go to map something, and it’s not there, “Katie Mentone, BEd Program Coordinator Teacher Education, Faculty of Education, explained. 

Bringing visibility to how courses relate to each other within a program or department can dispel that dark data. With Coursetune, you will have the clarity that comes with having all your data in one place and having the tools to investigate any dark data lurking within. For more on managing course bloat and course drift, watch this video from our help center. 

Solving Curriculum Mysteries with Coursetune

What ghastly things are creeping around in your curriculum? You might be surprised what you can find when you organize your data in Coursetune. Colleen M. Culley, PharmD, BCPS at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics explained what she saw after importing her course into Coursetune.

“When I went in and put the course objectives in, and then looked at all the learning objectives, which we did have for every session,” Colleen says, “I realized that there were no learning objectives for one of our outcomes. And there was only one related to the first one and it blew my mind. I was like, ‘No wonder the students are confused, no wonder we’re not making the connections that I was hoping to make with them.’ 

Colleen concludes, “It really made me think about how to write learning objectives more deliberately and more intentionally, and to really consider what do I want them to get out of this class? So it was humbling, but it was really powerful to see this.” 

Watch Colleen’s excitement as she views her course for the first time in Coursetune in this video. 

Are you ready to treat yourself to ghoulishly great curriculum design?

If you are on the case of the missing learning objectives or seeking a solution to alignment, the power to solve it is a click away in Coursetune. The alternative data views and rich reports give you actionable ways to improve the design of your course. October may be coming to a close, but continuous improvement never goes out of season. Let us give you a custom demonstration of what Coursetune can do to bring your curriculum to life.

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