Universities have always had to manage the process of designing, approving and delivering a taught curriculum. But many organisations do this using word documents, manual processes and homegrown tools to support the exercise. If this sounds familiar, here are five reasons it’s time to revisit your approach.
1. Competition for students
Competition for students globally is intensifying. At the same time, the study options available are increasing fast. Students are internationally mobile. Private and online providers are aggressively in the market offering degrees, while an increasing range of independent learning platforms provides alternatives to a traditional qualification approach. Research shows that students choose what they want to study before they consider where. In this context, a university’s curriculum needs to be designed, packaged and communicated as thoughtfully as any consumer product.
2. Student expectations
Many, if not most, students go to university with the expectation that it will establish the basis for a successful working life. They seek detailed information, flexibility and choice. They also want to be able to self-serve and have an inbuilt expectation that navigation through course information, enrolment processes and systems will be straightforward and intuitive - like everything else they have grown up with (think Airbnb, Uber, Spotify). In order to meet all of these needs simultaneously, universities need to be able to surface and communicate the content and outcomes of multiple possible learning pathways and present that information in a clear and engaging way. It is virtually impossible to do this unless curriculum information is maintained as highly-structured data and managed with specialised software.
3. Innovation and agility
The world is moving fast, and the demand from employers for skilled employees to fill ‘new collar’ roles is running ahead of the supply. Universities face an imperative to continuously innovate, to identify opportunities and bring new offerings to market much more quickly than in the past. However, most institutions’ governance processes are not set up to achieve this. To change that means thinking afresh about curriculum development, governance and approval processes, without compromising on quality – agility and speed must be combined with the ability to deliver high-quality outcomes and robust assurance processes. The key to doing this is to ensure that curriculum management processes are supported by efficient workflow and accurate data drawn from a definitive source of truth.
4. Efficiency and effectiveness
Manual processes, confusion over which document represents the latest version, the need to re-enter the same information in multiple places and the inevitable mistakes that follow. Sound familiar? Not to mention the thousands of pages that oversight committees are asked to review and approve. Good curriculum management will utilise a structured approach to curriculum data, automate process through managed workflows, facilitate good governance, and integrate seamlessly with other systems. This supports high-quality decision making, ‘builds-in’ compliance, guarantees data integrity and avoids manual data entry, saving hours of staff time whilst delivering excellent outcomes.
5. Strategic oversight
In support of all of the above points, university leaders need to have actionable insight into curriculum offerings and the ability to exercise strategic oversight and control. This is only possible with structured data held in a consolidated system, supported by robust, enforceable policy and process.