What’s so difficult about designing a new snazzy curriculum that wows? So, it turns out quite a few challenges are lurking out there in that dusty stack. Here are four common mistakes to keep in mind when developing the next university curriculum.
Mistake #1: Jump on the cost-savings bandwagon
Administrators can get stuck on the sticker price of curriculum development. Institutions neither invest in the tools to deliver high-quality curricula nor do schools invest in talent. Universities make the mistake of thinking that an instructor can easily move into the instructional design role. Teachers are experts at delivering content. They may not be experts at creating and curating content. Therefore, seasoned faculty may resist adopting new technology. By trying to save money, universities end up spending more money down the road.
Mistake #2: Skimp on time and volume
Besides that, universities run the risk of underestimating the amount of time it takes a team to create a curriculum. Faculty do not think about long-term content curation. It is easy to under-estimate the sheer amount of volume needed to fill a robust curriculum. Yet, the opposite can happen too. Schools may deem the curriculum as an easy win. Then, the standards and requirements change mid-design. New developments may render a series of changes that impact more than one discipline. Assessment requirements may have been updated. New testing standards might have been met. Key faculty may leave the institution. Replacing them may take months.
Mistake #3: Do it yourself
Most importantly, schools may not have the skills-set readily available. Institutions may be tempted to hire subject matter experts to create and deliver content. Yet, without the bridge of a course creator and an SME, the content will be lacking. Subject-Matter-Experts know their field. Teachers know how to teach. Instructional designers know how to work with SMEs to organize content into meaningful learning experiences for students. Course creators are up to speed on the tools and tech needed to deliver a dynamic curriculum. Staff will have to learn how to use the tools; at the same time, they are working their other job. Universities that employ in-house staff, who are learning the ID tools as they go, risk mistakes and legal ramifications. Pros know how to design for accessibility, such as using sign language and close captioning. Seasoned course creators pay attention and eliminate any unconscious bias that may be present. Faculty may not be aware of copyrighted materials and other sensitive elements when creating content.
Mistake #4: One purpose
Likewise, universities may not think about how to create revenue streams with their new curriculum. Administrators may lose sight of how to expand and extend their school’s capabilities to help support the bottom line. Curriculum with courses that have broad appeal can be sold to corporate partners. eLearning courses can be converted to MOOCs. Anti-harassment courses can be sold in the marketplace. Anti-bully courses can be monetized in a series of microlearning role plays. Yet, creating a saleable curriculum requires the talent of seasoned instructional designers. Curriculum developers create, use, and reuse content and media to make new products and make revenue.
In sum, universities make four common mistakes when they design their next curriculum. First, they jump on the cost-savings bandwagon. Second, they don’t free up the amount of time it takes to create a high-quality curriculum. Third, they underestimate the amount of talent and skills needed to create a curriculum. Finally, they do not think like a profit center.