Higher Education and Curriculum Mapping
I was doing some research related to higher education and curriculum mapping for our release of eCurriculum HE and strangely it was difficult to find a lot of information in this area. People ask questions about it, define what they want, but there seem to be few examples of what I would call a comprehensive, “feasible” solutions.
I found a lot of research projects that were funded and performed by programs in higher education institutions to go through the mapping process for an entire program or a set of courses. Strangely, this seemed to be a pretty manual and cumbersome process of documenting, charts, spreadsheets, etc.
From this study by a professor at Colorado State University to this study at Oxford College of Emory University to this study at Indiana University, it seems they all concluded that curriculum mapping was beneficial and needed, yet there is a distinct lack of systems that successfully meet the needs of automation.
I think it may be time to delve into the reasons a little deeper.
K-12 school districts got a head start on this a few years ago. They automate the curriculum management process, get their initial curriculum into the system and then benefit from the advantages of being able to generate all kinds of gap, overlap, and other reports on the What, When, and How of their instruction. Then when needed they just have to reevaluate and tweak the content.
No research projects (or the associated cost) involved.
Sounds like pretty good reasons to me. So where is the problem? Well, I am guessing it has to do with a few factors:
- The complexity of needs at the Higher Ed level compared to K-12 - this could be more perception than reality. However, it does make it harder for things to gain momentum. The needs of different areas are too diverse to find a common ground when designing solutions that can apply broadly. Perhaps, it is a resistance to follow the K-12 school districts’ lead – This is understandable but maybe we should let that slide.
- Customization Needs - This is related to the first point. For a solution to work in Higher Ed, it has to be highly customizable. More importantly the customization has to be cost-effective and quick. This could explain the lack of high-end systems specifically geared towards higher ed.
- Perceived “cost savings” of doing it ourselves – Again, this builds on the above two points. Given the lack of good custom enterprise solutions, it is easy to support the notion that "we should try to build it internally”. Without going into all the details here, this often ends up not quite achieving the results intended. Rather than saving money, it ends up being ten times more expensive, takes forever to develop and creates something less robust than a high-end customizable product.
Honestly, given all these factors, I think the biggest one is that there is just not really much out there in terms of enterprise level systems that are truly flexible, customizable, and scalable enough to manage the curriculum for higher education.
Stay tuned for more information on some exciting developments related to Curriculum Mapping specifically for Higher Ed.