5 Things to Look for in Curriculum Management Software

5 Things to Look for in Curriculum Management Software

Learn if a curriculum tool is right for your institution. Before selecting a tool, institutions should consider factors such as the user experience, data model flexibility, reporting capabilities, and more.

Curriculum management is a complex process for an institution; however, a curriculum tool can alleviate administrators' headaches and provide a more streamlined experience for all involved in curriculum management. Evaluate the following five areas to assess if a curriculum management tool is right for your institution and will offer maximum benefits.

Provide Users an Accessible, Easy-to-Use Tool

At the end of the day, your goal is to have all of your faculty buy into the software you select; a curriculum management solution is only useful insofar as it’s adopted by faculty and admins alike. If the tool isn’t very usable, has an outdated user interface, or uses terminology that isn’t common to your campus, you’re going to have problems with rollout. The two main things to look for are: 

  1. When a user sees it, do they like the way it looks? 
  2. Is the ability to do something simple like filling out a form or approving a request intuitive to users of all technical expertise? 

If the answer to either of these is no, you should disqualify the vendor from your curriculum management search. 

Look For Data Model Flexibility

Almost all vendors in the curriculum management space can integrate with Student Information Systems and claim to have forms and workflows that can be configured to your institution. But how easy is it to actually update forms with custom fields, track items like learning outcomes and adjust highly customizable workflows on the fly? Do you have to call customer support to make changes? Do you need to put a ticket in with a vendor to do this, or is the system easy enough to use that you can make quick adjustments as needed? 

One thing you’ll hear from schools that use a curriculum management system is that their needs often change over time. Schools may want to track policies or additional attributes as a part of course data, or committees may change and turnover. Making sure that you can handle these changes without having an overworked staff member devoted to the administration of the platform is incredibly important.

Enable Powerful Degree Maps

It is important to have highly structured, yet flexible degree maps (potential plans toward completion). Degree maps are critical to student-centric curriculum development, in that you can create realistic/flexible degree plans (flexible in both the logic and the composition) that can guide students toward completion. This functionality also makes it far easier to construct and then display in the catalog, obviating the need to recreate degree maps in your degree audit tool, in the catalog, or to maintain it manually. It should also reduce potential errors in your degree maps by using smart fields that can auto-populate and limit users’ input. Be careful of vendors that claim to support degree maps but really just make you enter data in a freeform text editor. 

Student mapping out her degree path

Assess Flexible, Configurable Reporting Capabilities

All vendors have some kind of reporting, but can you actually dig down and build custom reports on the fly? Canned reports are nice, but they will end up making you do tons of manipulation in excel spreadsheets and create hunters out of end users for data. This leads to your inbox filling up when they can’t build their own reports. Make sure the vendor can configure reports in-app so you don’t need to do VLookups in Excel. Best in class will have a configurable reporting dashboard that allows you to configure columns and see a full audit log of all of the changes that have happened to your curriculum over time. 

Evaluate the Integration with Curriculum, Scheduling, SIS, & Degree Audit

Almost everyone can integrate with the SIS and claims to integrate with the catalog. But how does the curriculum to catalog integration actually work? How do program updates communicate with your degree audit? How does curriculum feed into section schedule? Look for a platform that has an SIS integration, can integrate with Degree Audit tools like DegreeWorks, and has fully integrated section & schedule management solutions. 

Inside Higher Ed & Coursedog: Revamping Curriculum Management

Curriculum management continues to be vital as student needs change. Learn how to create tailored, equitable curriculum with this collection by Inside Higher Ed.

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