Curriculum Development & Management
An Attractive New Frontier in Adult-centered and Professional Higher Education
- Reusable Learning Objects
- Scalable Content
- Reusable Content
- Repurposable Content
- Object-oriented Curriculum
- Durable Objects™
Constructs such as those above are at the center of innovation on the curricular side of education, especially adult-centered and professional higher education where the demands of multiple learning platforms, multiple learning center locations, and practitioner adjunct faculty converge to create high value for structured, hopefully scalable, content.
Scalable Curriculum FAQ
Will structured, scalable curriculum remain an interesting option for adult-centered and professional programs or will the time come when managed content is a practical necessity? Following is a representative sample of questions that can be answered more-or-less separate from your specific context. (Click for answers.)
- Several factors are driving this new way of developing and managing content. Central are 50 years of learning sciences leading to significant advancements in pedagogy, dramatically increased levels of participation in higher education (especially the growth of the adult-centered sector), the development of relatively inexpensive hardware and software to support object-oriented design and systems, and the pressures of competition in adult-centered and professional higher education.
- The briefest possible answer is that the right kind of system can produce curriculum that is demonstrably superior, is easier to maintain, costs less, and is more easily repurposed or scaled to other learning environments and contexts than curriculum developed by conventional means. We define "conventional means" as instructors developing their own content to widely varying standards of quality, scrutability, comprehensiveness, and suitability-to-purpose, with little attention paid to modern learning sciences, pedagogical sciences, and education technologies.
- Today, there are few good reasons for developing curriculum the way we do; i.e., the way our great-great grand-professors did it. The few reasons that exist at all are largely political and owe to the fact that many institutions are not in control of their destinies. There remains one good reason for the traditional approach. If a distinguished individual is willing to teach a course, forget structure and scalability! Seize the opportunity.
- Yes! You will get to market sooner with a better and more current product developed at a lower cost.
First let's address the red herring of "quality" that underscores many of the arguments made to resist change (another popular group of arguments resting on purported threats to "academic freedom"). Ceteris paribus, the kind of structured content we are talking about will produce more outcomes, with greater certainty, with fewer inputs than will traditional curriculum. Quality, which is logically dependent on suitability to purpose (Quality for what?), will be higher, if for no other reason than the fact that we will replace vague and potentially self-serving claims pertaining to quality with appropriate assessments, including agreed-upon measurement constructs, rubrics, metrics, and performance standards.
It is often said that some individuals resist structured and scalable content because they fear a significant loss in their favored position in the system of higher education. This argument overstates the case. Aside from their inherent conservatism as a body, a few individuals resist because they do not understand how such a system works, especially how their contributions as subject matter experts are integral to the process of developing and maintaining modern curriculum.
Other reasons for resistance point to the fact that, as a body, the professoriate constitutes one of the most conservative affinity groups in western society. While our scientific understanding of teaching and learning processes—and the biological, cognitive, and psychological functions that underscore them—have progressed many orders of magnitude in the past half century, instructors still develop content and teach more-or-less as they did 150 years ago. For many in the professoriate, the situation is difficult to understand because they make their living teaching in one or more of these sciences.
- We believe that all content will eventually evolve toward InterEd's Durable Objects™ model. If we are correct, the decision to implement is one of timing. We recommend that you conduct a thorough SWOT analysis. InterEd can assist in that process.
- Initially a great idea, the compromises SCORM underwent to meet the objections of various guilds have reduced the potentially robust notion of a Learning Object to little more than a well-classified library resource. This is a very useful step (not logically a first step, however) but it does little to address the challenge of modern learning environments and less still to exploit the programmatic or financial leverage made possible through the application of technology. InterEd's Durable Objects™ model produces fully self-contained learning objects. Each object contains the atomic elements: Learning Objective, Group and Individual Activities positioned at various levels of learning appropriate to the learners and the Learning Objective, and Assessments containing rubrics and metrics to ensure that the appropriate type of learning took place at the appropriate level. Additionally, each Durable Object™ contains a family of secondary object properties making it useful for integration into courses and degrees, for scaling and repurposing, for maintaining currency, and for resource allocation and management.
Given $10M and a competent back office of analysts and programmers, any institution can develop a system for developing, maintaining, and scaling content. Some of the largest for-profit universities, corporate universities, and publishers are moving in this direction.
The middle-ground represented by InterEd's Durable Objects™ model is otherwise unaddressed. This position focuses on the end-product of a working and scalable content engine that organizes and deploys curriculum of demonstrable high quality (assessment metrics are built in) and, over time, does so in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost required via conventional methods. InterEd's Durable Objects™ approach develops business rules, systems infrastructure, roles, and metrics that will create and sustain a working system for programs whose human and technical resources are modest. Equally important, we think, is the organizational and technical guidance we provide to achieve an effective migration from your current method of developing and managing content, including unmanaged, instructor-centric systems. InterEd's Durable Objects™ model rationalizes a large number of incremental approaches that do not require large investments of capital or human resources. After the first year, these approaches can be advanced on a "pay as you earn" model.
The least structured alternative to developing structured content is an application of the SCORM guidelines.
In brief, you will need the following subsystems and their associated business rules:
- Market driven programs and courses
- A relational database architecture to house Durable Objects™
- Durable Objects™ (about 12 to 20 for the typical course)
- Subject matter experts (SMEs) to develop Durable Objects™
- Training processes for SMEs
- Programmatic evaluation processes
Begin with an audit of your current content development and management system or, if you have no such system, an appraisal of how and how well content is currently developed and deployed.
Or, if you are already on track but need key personnel training:
Arrange for us to train your faculty, designers, and platform managers to perform appropriately in your environment in relation to your established goals.
Or, if you are not ready for a decision:
Consider attending one of our well-known Executive Retreats on Durable Learning Objects. You will have a great time and leave with an overflowing agenda of transformational ideas.
Or, if you are not ready for an Executive Retreat
Ask more questions to help you decide. We will also let you know the next time we offer an Executive Briefing or Executive Teleconference on this topic.
When the time is right, contact us.