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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Welcome Abbey!

Hey everyone! My name is Brandy Groff and from now on I’ll be helping with the AllofE blog. Soon you will be able to learn a bit more about who I am, but today I would like to showcase one of our newbies here at AllofE.

Please meet 22 year old Abbey Strusz. Abbey is from Republic, MO and graduated with a BA in English: creative writing and a BS in Journalism: News and Information. She is contributing to the Marketing Team as a Product Analyst. I asked Abbey the following string of fun questions so that we could get to know her a little bit better:

  • What do you like about AllofE the most of all so far?
    I’m really excited to play vALLOFEball! But I also like that I get to do something new every day.

  • What project are you currently working on?
    I am currently working on the product launch of eCurriculum for Higher Education. We are doing a research project related to managing curriculum for Physician’s Assistant Programs to aid in their accreditation process.

  • What are some of your hobbies and interests?
    I like to read, write, tie-dye, play volleyball and watch “Bones” with my boyfriend.

  • If you could celebrate any holiday every day, what would it be and why?
    Christmas! I love having a fire in the fireplace and the smell of a Christmas tree and winter is my favorite season.

  • If you could trade places with any celebrity for one day, who would it be and why?
    JK Rowling, maybe. Or Emily Blunt because she’s married to John Krasinski.

  • What is one food that you could never live without?

  • Would you rather: Always HAVE to say everything on your mind or never speak
    Never speak

  • Lose your keys or cell phone
    Cell phone. I do that all the time anyway.

  • Buried Alive or Burned Alive
    Ugh. Um. Burned, probably. Whichever one is faster.

  • Firefox or Internet Explorer:

  • Harry Potter or Twilight
    Is this really a question? Harry Potter. Obviously.

  • Beach or Mountains

  • Mac or PC

  • Pepsi or Coke

  • Ninja or Pirate

  • Dogs or Cats

    Thanks Abbey and welcome to AllofE! Today is our first company volleyball game and I’m hoping that Abbey will help bring us to our first victory of the season! She says that she played in the KU Volleyball Club, which is far more recent then when I last played volleyball – middle school – so I’m expecting her to overcompensate for my lack of skill. ;) Haha, gooooo team!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Curriculum Management in Higher Education

Earlier this year, Tracy posted a blog discussing research about curriculum mapping for higher education and some reasons why schools (especially programs with defined standards and competencies that the curriculum should meet) don’t already have curriculum mapping.

Since then, AllofE implemented eCurriculum HE for five different programs at Bridgeport University. Soon, Bridgeport’s Dental Hygienist, Naturopathic, Chiropractic, Nutrition, and Physician’s Assistant programs will all be using this curriculum mapping system.

And let me tell you: the administrators there are pumped. They are excited about the how easy it will be for them to manage, share and track their curriculum.

There is a real need in Higher Education for a curriculum mapping tool.

Recently a few of us here at AllofE have started a research project around current practices related to curriculum tracking and mapping within similar Higher Ed institutions.

The answers have a familiar tone to them yet I never fail to be surprised by the archaic methods used in most cases. Some schools are using spreadsheets. Some are still putting pencil to paper.

Let’s look back at those reasons Tracy listed that Higher Ed was doing without curriculum mapping:

  • They think their needs are more complex than the K-12 districts that have been using curriculum mapping successfully for years (and, if they are being honest, are maybe reluctant to follow the lead of K-12 schools)

Yeah, their needs are complicated. The Chiropractic program has over 250 competencies, as well as learning measures to track. The Physician’s Assistant program? More than 470 topics to track, as well as more than 50 ARC standards and countless labs and experiences every student needs.

Tracking their ability to hit these competencies, standards and labs—this is all part of the accreditation. They need these for their school to stay a school.

Yes, these could be tracked by hand. But tracking them by hand involves hours of work—work that most schools probably put in at the last second, with the accreditation date quickly approaching. At this point, they’ve either taught the skills or not. They may have taught the same competency several times, then run out of time to teach another vital skill.

And they wouldn’t know until it was too late.

eCurriculum is built to avoid these errors. It lets you plan your semester week by week, simply checking a box to include a competency in an instruction module. It also provides reports that let you know what you’re overteaching and what you’ve forgotten about. It helps you ensure everything is covered when it should be.

  • Schools have intense and exact customization needs — they can’t take a cookie-cutter solution, and the customization must be quick and cost-effective

eCurriculum is no cookie-cutter solution. While it comes preloaded with the standards needed for accreditation in each field (ARC Standards and NCCPA Competencies for the Physician’s Assistant programs, for example), the customization is anything but limited. Individual programs can insert their own curriculum needs—labs that are specific to their school, for example. Professors’ and student names are added, as well as class names.

eCurriculum also automatically generates a comprehensive curriculum web site from the entered curriculum information—a web site that matches the University’s overall branding and web site standards so that it provides a seamless experience for university web site visitors.

  • Finally, they think they are saving by doing it themselves.

As Tracy said, “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.”

I mentioned earlier that eCurriculum generates a web page showing all the curriculum information. This automatically generated web page shows students what they will be learning, and may bring more interest to your school. (I know when I applied for graduate programs, if I couldn’t navigate the web site, I didn’t apply.) It shows potential students and parents what they’re spending their money on.

Most importantly, with one easily shared link, the accreditation board has all the information they need. The presentation does not need to take hours, or be changed every year. eCurriculum will update the web page as changes are made, cutting hours from the accreditation process each year, let alone the time it takes to create the system in the first place.

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