Curriculum data management solutions: your 5 must-haves

At CourseLoop, we think about curriculum management all day long. We think about it, and we work out ways to solve our clients’ curriculum management problems. It’s what we do. And, every time we deliver a solution, there is one thing that always holds true. Curriculum can never be truly optimized unless it’s underpinned by good curriculum data management.  

Of course, curriculum management encompasses a much broader suite of capabilities. But the curriculum data management component is the workhorse of the total system. It’s what allows you to do any of the cool stuff like setting up workflows, mapping, publishing, and reviewing your curriculum, and more. Which is why you need to get it right from the get-go. In doing so you will get your data under control and be able to truly optimize your curriculum for high performance outcomes. 

You may be wondering whether curriculum data management is as big of an issue as we’re making it out to be. Yes. It is! Now that we are wholly in the digital age, universities face curriculum challenges they’ve never faced before. Established educational institutions are growing and evolving. And new institutions and forms of offerings are popping up left, right, and center. This, along with institutional size and complexity these days, not to mention that ever present digital interconnectivity, is driving demand from universities wanting to leverage software to manage their curriculum data. 

Choosing a solution: The 5 must-haves

Whether you are choosing a first-time software solution or replacing a legacy system, it is important to clarify exactly what you need. Based on our experience partnering with universities in the US, the UK, and Australia, we have put together the 5 must-haves of a curriculum data management solution. 

These ‘must haves’ are:

1. A definitive source of truth for curriculum data

2. The ability to integrate seamlessly with downstream systems

3. The ability to hold highly-structured data, rules, and relationships

4. A high level of configurability

5. Advanced version control

1. A definitive source of truth for curriculum data 

Curriculum management systems are complex in nature. On top of that, there are other vital systems such as student information and learning management systems that need to integrate with one another. It is typical for institutions still using manual, paper-based processes, or legacy software (even some new software products) to host curriculum data in various places across these systems. A setup like this inevitably creates redundancies in duplicated data and administrative workload, making it almost impossible to verify data let alone manage versions. This is why it is important to have a ‘definitive’ source of truth.

So, what does CourseLoop mean when we talk about a ‘definitive’ source of truth? Simply put, it means a single system is the authoritative source for all information. All curriculum data flows directly in and out of a single repository, delivering it where it needs to go. Having a definitive source of truth removes the need to duplicate data or access it from multiple systems. This setup is most effective when combined with excellent integration capability. Which leads us into the next must-have.  

2. Ability to integrate seamlessly with downstream systems

Once you have established a definitive source of truth, the information needs to be made available for consumption by downstream systems. And, given that most universities have implemented multiple systems to address their organizational needs, the ability for any new software system to integrate with others is crucial. 

These days, the crème de la crème of curriculum data management solutions is one that can integrate seamlessly with other systems within a university’s wider technology landscape.  

There are various methods of software integration. But we recommend you look for one that is simple and proven to deliver seamless integration with ease. At CourseLoop we have developed a comprehensive suite of REST APIs and other data export methods. Which has allowed us to integrate the CourseLoop Platform with many university systems such as the Peoplesoft Campus Solutions student management system. Whatever you decide, make sure that integration is on your list of must-haves.  

3. Ability to hold highly-structured data, rules, and relationships

As far as data models go, you can find varying levels of sophistication out there. Some are robust but rigid. Some are flimsy and flexible. And some sit in that goldilocks zone of being both robust and flexible. Let’s focus on robustness for the moment. A robust data model is purpose-designed, highly structured, has an extensive data repository, can handle complex rules and relationships, and has mechanisms for assuring and validating the incoming and outgoing data. 

Universities have large, complex data. To get the most out of the integration and publication capabilities, it is vital that the data be highly structured, making it easy to consume and use for multiple purposes. This is important to be able to handle the size and complexity of university information and processes. 

4. High level of configurability

Flexibility is key to being able to represent your institution’s uniqueness. From the language you use, to the processes you employ, having a configurable data model will help maintain the fidelity of that uniqueness. It has never been our experience that two separate institutions have had exactly the same configuration requirements. But what is a high level of configurability? 

Configurability means getting all the advantages of a product, without sacrificing your organizational identity or the way you want to work. Configurability means being able to apply the language, terminology, and processes you use to the underlying product functionality and data model, allowing you to retain your institution’s own look and feel, and, very importantly, your own processes and the way you do things. At the same time, you can take advantage of the efficiency and effectiveness that comes with tried and tested data management and product capabilities, and a future upgrade path that is not compromised by client-specific customization.

5. Advanced version control

One of the most highly sought after functions of any curriculum data management system, without a doubt, is version control. This pesky issue has been flagged as a pain point by every institution we have helped. The faster you create and launch new courses and the more collaboration you have, the harder it is to keep track of who has what and where the latest version is stored. There is also the issue of admin control to boot. Can you be certain that no changes have happened in the meantime? And can you track who made the changes and when?  This stress isn’t necessary. You can have total confidence in your data.  

Advance version control allows you to track, monitor, and make changes easily, without compromise to the integrity of your data. Whether you want to interrogate a complete audit history or be confident about the information you publish to students, advanced version control is an absolute must-have for your curriculum data management system.  

CourseLoop’s Curriculum Data Management Solution

CourseLoop Curriculum Data Management (CDM) is the foundational module within the CourseLoop Platform. CDM creates a definitive source of truth where you can create, manage and version your curriculum information. Having been developed with universities for universities, the CourseLoop data model is purpose-designed, comprehensive and structured with a high level of configurability, ready to help get your curriculum data ship-shape.   


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