Ok, so I’m going to go out on a limb here, and talk a wee bit about what I’ve been learning about designing curricula. I care about doing it right (and probably haven’t always). It’s not the average course that’s the issue, but big ones, or multiple courses addressing skill gaps. It’s been challenging to find a systematic approach, which is why I’m teetering on a curriculimb.
So, the issue is how to develop a curriculum. I know in higher ed (I was there once) it tends to be a process of figuring out what content they need, and distributing across courses. It’s probably more art than science, where you move stuff around until it feels like you’ve got the right sized amount of content for each subject and it covers the ‘right stuff’. How people meet the criteria can vary. In a more research institution, I could design my HCI course my way. In more teaching-focused institutions, people may actually be given course syllabi to teach to!
My problem is when I have an uncertain amount of content, say for a large domain, and I want to develop specific capabilities. On principle, we should work backwards from the final performance. Which might include some very rich types of capabilities, so we might have a lot of concepts and practice involved. We’d need to create a large map. We might even break it up into conceptual stages (e.g. with programming: learning conditionals and then loops), and addressing them separately.
You probably also need to provide some practice to deal with misconceptions. That is, where are folks likely to get off track and maybe discouraged? Then you want to create practice for that. The things you’d rather they learned before it matters.
When I looked for good principles around this, it seemed like most of what I found basically said it’s iterative, there are no overarching principles (except work backwards and iterate ;). Which was less than satisfying, and some evidence-based practice would be nice.
Now, one of the things I was pondering in the dark of the night was how AI could help. I’ve been hearing how it can parse content and create maps. However, I also realized that to do so, it needs well-structured content. Kind of a circular argument. I think we need people to define it then AI can align it.
Again, right now it seems more like an art than a science. And I get that; it’s a lot like designing in engagement: create a first best guess and then test. Still, there are some solid results in engagement that give us some grounds for the first pass. I feel less like that at the next level up. So, I’m out on a curriculimb, and welcome help getting down!
Avnish Srivastava says
The natural challange is to structure the content in a logical and coherent manner & then further Dividing it into units, modules, or lessons, considering the sequence and progression of learning.
Great Learnlet @Clark as always !!!
Lisa Chamberlin says
Grant Wiggins (Understanding by Design) is all about working backwards from the end goal and then figuring out what it takes to get there. We do this frequently in community college workforce programs especially.
Lisa, absolutely! I talked about that here: https://blog.learnlets.com/2023/02/a-step-backward/ :)