Curriculum management requires complex business processes that present many challenges, especially if your institution uses paper-based manual processes.
In talking with hundreds of provosts, registrars, curriculum managers, and other administrators responsible for curriculum at higher education institutions, we’ve honed in on four critical curriculum management challenges. If institutions don’t address these challenges with robust software, they often continue wasting time and money - and inadvertently increase the likelihood of negative outcomes for students.
Let’s dive into those four challenges and how a software solution can help you address them.
Reviewing, collaborating, and finalizing approvals are required steps to manage curriculum, and holding meetings is a common tactic to move through these steps. However, when you consider all the meetings needed to manage the many programs and courses across an institution, time spent can add up to hundreds of hours!
Deans, chairs, and provosts at Murray State University in Kentucky were spending as many as 20 hours in approval meetings every curriculum cycle. Based on the average administrator salary in the United States, these meetings were taking up around 200 hours - or $7,000 every cycle.
This meeting time became particularly problematic during the pandemic. When the university moved to working remotely in the pandemic, committees considered holding face-to-face checkpoints over video conferencing, which would have added to their “Zoom fatigue.”
Curriculum management software cuts down on approval process-focused meetings. In turn, colleges and universities can create their own approval processes and workflows that decrease - or eliminate - the need for face-to-face meetings. Asynchronous reporting, editing, and commenting features further alleviate the need for this type of check-in.
With Kuali Curriculum Management, Murray State University administrators eliminated approval meetings entirely. Instead, they created collaborative agendas that helped admins move through the process on their own time. User dashboards also increased transparency, allowing admins to check a proposal’s status and ensure they were working on the most up-to-date version.
“I never felt the lack of face-to-face meetings prevented us from moving forward with anything,” said Assistant Registrar for Curriculum Management Ashley Rogers.
As curriculum is updated, new information needs to be added to multiple systems, including the student information system and academic catalog. When administrators manually enter data into those systems, however, two problems occur: manual entry takes hours of work and presents more opportunities for error.
In considering large-scale curriculum adoption, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) realized just how time-consuming manual data entry was. In 2016, the university wanted to develop curricula in languages other than English. Their dependence on paper forms and rote entry made this expansion less feasible, however, as they were already spending an average of 18 days each year entering curriculum proposals.
With software programs, paper-based forms and manual data entry are relics of the past. After curricular changes are made, they are automatically published in the academic catalog, rather than needing to be re-entered. This system integration saves time and eliminates redundancy. APIs also make sure all campus systems include up-to-date information.
SNHU, for instance, was able to streamline data entry processes by adopting Kuali Curriculum Management. After curricular changes are approved, they are automatically pushed to Kuali Catalog Management with the push of a button - no manual entry needed. What’s more, addendas auto-populate onto documents, saving even more time.
With the time saved, SNHU was able to expand its non-English curriculum options.
“We wouldn’t have the resources to do this kind of project, at least on the curriculum side, if we were managing everything manually,” said Mike O’Connor, the university’s System Analytics Director.
Many institutions struggle to ensure curriculum managers and faculty are reviewing the most current version of a proposal as it moves through approvals. Additionally, providing access to comments on proposals or visibility into the revisions that were made requires massive amounts of work. Even then, it is still difficult to provide those records in an organized way that can be used for reporting.
The University of Victoria in Canada struggled with their proposal approval process. Admins had to take extra care that they were reviewing and revising current proposals, as they received them in email chains and paper forms. The university didn’t even have a database for capturing or reporting data.
A digital solution maintains the most current version of each proposal and provides time-stamped edits, comments, and approvals, keeping everyone on the same page and making reporting a breeze.
With Kuali Curriculum Management, University of Victoria used APIs to streamline moving through multiple rounds of proposal review. The software tracks changes, so version history - and the up-to-date version - was easier to identify. Kuali’s user dashboard and workflow helped admins understand where the proposal had been and where it was going on its approval journey.
“The beauty of Kuali is that we’re always looking at the right proposal. There’s no chance that somebody is looking at an outdated source,” said James Wigginton Curriculum and Calendar Manager at the University of Victoria.
As you know, your curriculum forms a complex web of connections. When any one element, such as learning outcomes, of a course or program is changed, the effects on other courses and programs can be far-reaching, forming hidden dependencies. Hidden dependencies are hard to spot and nearly impossible to eradicate. It can be challenging to know how changes affect every element of a curriculum without copious amounts of work, but that understanding is critical.
Leeward Community College in Oʻahu, Hawaii was struggling with this issue in their homegrown curriculum management system. Administrators and faculty were using a paper-based proposal approval process that made it nearly impossible to identify dependencies among outcomes, courses, and programs. This meant students faced hidden dependencies could have affected their retention or time-to-degree.
A digital curriculum management system offers structured data capabilities. It can maintain the relationship between the elements of your curriculum and provide alerts when proposal changes impact other courses and programs, giving you the heads up you need to act and eliminate a hidden dependency.
For Leeward, Kuali Curriculum Management created a simplified Dependency and Prerequisite Analysis system. The system works by identifying dependencies created or by modified or eliminated courses, offering real-time information about the curricular implications of these changes. The Curriculum Committee has also been able to find and modify hidden prerequisites that aren’t identified in the program requirements.
Consider a software solution like Kuali Curriculum Management to start streamlining your institution’s business processes today.