Searching for a curriculum management solution for your institution can feel overwhelming. There are many tools to consider, and you’ve likely heard and experienced a system that doesn’t work well. Perhaps you’ve used a tool that lacked flexibility, documentation, or was so tricky to use that it created a barrier for faculty.
To help you along your journey, here are a few suggestions of characteristics you should seek out.
Look for software that has an excellent user experience. You’ll know it when you see it. Think buttons in the places you expect them to be, minimal clicks to get to the things you need to access every day, autosave, etc.
When a software solution provides an excellent user experience, faculty and staff will want to use it. They won’t drag their feet or beg an administrator down the hall to “please just do it for me; it’ll take you 5 seconds.”
Additionally, administrators, faculty, and staff can spend less time training and learning to use software with an intuitive user experience. Most faculty only need to use a curriculum management system a few times over an entire academic year. It’s a tough sell to get them into a two-hour software training when they likely won’t remember what they learned by the time they need to use it.
Finally, software that offers a great user experience supports more accurate information-gathering processes. Think about it: when you use a software that asks vague questions, doesn’t have mandatory fields, or is complicated to use, it’s challenging to provide the correct information where it’s needed, almost like you feel the need to give caveats everywhere while you’re completing a form.
On the other hand, software that is easy to use naturally supports users in providing the correct information in the right places at the right time.
A dependency analysis function allows administrators to catch critical course and program dependency gaps before students can happen upon them. This function will show you where dependency gaps exist.
By removing dependency gaps, you will reduce time to graduation by removing unexpected hurdles on the path to graduation.
Consider this: imagine a student runs into a dependency issue (i.e. they must take two courses to get into their preferred major, but one of those courses no longer exists. That student will spend more time and money on school waiting for administrators to find a solution or taking other courses to make up for the learning outcomes. The result is a poor experience for the student and a longer path to graduation.
Suppose these kinds of dependency gaps are occurring in many different programs. In that case, dependency gaps are directly causing a decrease in your institution’s graduation rate, based on the number of students in each cohort that graduate within six years.
Eliminate dependency gaps, and your graduation rate will increase.
Additionally, simply being aware of the breadth and type of dependency gaps that exist within your curriculum can contribute to your retention metrics, one of the top ways to improve retention, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.
A curriculum management software with configurable forms, workflow, and reporting capabilities will go a long way.
Imagine the ability to configure the exact form and workflow you need for any of your curricular processes. You won’t have to force your current processes into a software’s preexisting processes that don’t produce what you need.
And, with configurable reports, you can deliver the metrics stakeholders want quickly without spending hours on spreadsheet gymnastics.
The ability to configure some of the most important elements of your curriculum management solution (forms, workflows, and reports) will significantly reduce implementation time. It will also increase the quality of data you collect from your faculty and staff.
Configurable forms are also 'smart.' Smart forms, which conditionally show fields on a form, allow your proposers to supply only the necessary information for their proposal type. This makes filling a form more user-friendly for faculty, who don't want to spend an extra 45 minutes sorting out which fields they need to fill. (Let's be honest, who in their right might isn't frustrated by this.)
Additionally, it helps with accreditation by allowing you to build the reports you need when you need them. That means you don’t have to spend so much time manually pulling each piece of data. Learn more about how a curriculum management solution can help your institution achieve and maintain accreditation.
Did you know curriculum management software can help you dynamically build your catalog? Consider seeking out a vendor partner who values the curriculum as the foundation of the catalog.
Building your catalog using the curriculum management solution as the foundation makes the entire catalog creation process far more manageable. It means less manual entry and less opportunity for errors, which allows you to focus on the important strategic tasks like refining academic policies and improving program and course offerings.
A dynamic integration between your curriculum and catalog solutions can save you weeks of work.
At Southern New Hampshire University, the institution’s many catalog offerings were difficult to manage through paper-based processes. Adding curriculum proposals to the catalog alone took an average of 18 days per year, or approximately 3 weeks. And that excludes the actual publication and formatting of the catalog with policies and addendas.
Because of these significant time savings, the institution's curriculum and catalog administrators can spend time on initiatives that forward the institution. Without a dynamically built catalog, “we wouldn’t have the resources to do this kind of project,“ said Mike O’Connor, System Analytics Dir., University Registrar’s Office at Southern New Hampshire University.
The ability to integrate your curriculum management software with other campus systems is non-negotiable. Integrated systems allow you to get so much more from each of the tools in your ecosystem.
Integrations across curriculum management, the SIS, the LMS, and other solutions can and should be more advanced than bulk pushes and pulls. You can expect more from modern, cloud-based solutions, such as automatic pushes and pulls at regular intervals, such as nightly, so your systems are always up to date.
Additionally, when your ecosystem of solutions is integrated, the information you can pull provides more robust data to inform decision-making. In some cases, data pulled from integrated sources can even support accreditation.
We wish you the best as you search for a solution that fits your campus needs. If you’re ready to dive deeper into the curriculum management software market and learn more about the features and functionality available, check out Higher Education’s Guide to Curriculum Management today.