For the past four years I’ve been part of the support team for the JISC Curriculum Design Programme, and it has been a fascinating journey for everyone involved and has provided the basis for many a blog post here. The final synthesis report for the programme is now available from the Design Studio.
Making sense of the varied findings of 12 projects over nearly 4 years is no mean feat, but Helen Beetham (with support from the rest of the team particularly Gill Ferrell, Marianne Sheppard and a little bit from me) has done a fantastic job. The report reviews the four main areas of investigation: improving curriculum processes, reforming course information, enhancing design practice and transforming organisations.
The main conclusions are:
*More transparent processes with shared, accessible representations of the curriculum can support better stakeholder engagement in curriculum design
*More efficient processes can save considerable administrative staff time, and may free up curriculum teams to focus on educational rather than administrative concerns
*A focus on the design process rather than its outcomes allows both for lighter-weight approval events and a shorter review cycle with more opportunity for continuous enhancement
*A single, trusted source of course information can be achieved through a centralised academic database, but similar benefits can be gained through enhancing the functions, interfaces and interoperability of existing systems.
*Trusted, relevant, timely information can support educational decision making by curriculum teams.
*Better managed course information also has benefits for students in terms of course/module selection, access to up-to-date information, and parity of experience
*Better managed information allows institutions to analyse the performance of their course portfolio as well as meeting external reporting requirements.
*Curriculum design practices can be enhanced through face-to-face workshops with access to resources and guidance.
*Particularly effective resources include concise statements of educational principle with brief examples; and tools/resources for visualising the learning process, e.g. as a storyboard or timeline, or as a balance of learning/assessment activities.
*With better quality guidance and information available, curriculum teams can build credible benefit/business cases and respond more effectively to organisational priorities.
I would thoroughly recommend reading the the full report to anyone who is involved in any kind of curriculum design activity.
The report does signify the end of the programme, but plans are in place to ensure that the lessons learnt continue to be shared with the wider community. A number of openly available resources from the programme will be released over the coming months, including an info-kit style resource looking at business processes and curriculum information, and a resource pack including a number of tools and techniques developed by the projects for course development.