How Columbia Business School Upgraded Curriculum Processes to Support Curriculum Innovation and Collaboration

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How Columbia Business School Upgraded Curriculum Processes to Support Curriculum Innovation and Collaboration

Institutional Details

Columbia Business School

Student body size
New York City, NY
Key Drivers of Purchase
Columbia Business School sought a curriculum tool that streamlines approval processes with automated workflows and provides greater visibility into the curriculum process.

Institution Overview

Centered in New York City, Columbia Business School offers its diverse and entrepreneurial students daily access to influential industry leaders. Their mission is to educate and develop leaders and builders of enterprises who create value for their stakeholders and society at large; a mission they accomplish through their MBA, EMBA, MS, PhD, and Executive Education programs.

Keri Ashkenazy is the Associate Director of Teaching Excellence at Columbia Business School. Among many other things, Keri and her teammates are responsible for teaching innovation (incorporating new technology in the classroom); teaching excellence (providing tools, resources, and general support to help her faculty learn how to connect and engage with students in the classroom); and curriculum strategy (making sure we have an adequate depth and breadth of strong and attractive courses). Columbia Business School was an early adopter of Coursedog’s scheduling tools, but Keri has been deeply involved in the more recent implementation of the curriculum management tool with the goal of making the curriculum approval process more visible and streamlined.

Previous email-based curriculum management process lacked transparency

Before implementing Coursedog’s curriculum management solution, CBS had a process in place, but it wasn’t as transparent as they would have liked. They were still wrestling with some of the drawbacks of a more manual process.

“We had an email-based process that was technically working, but it wasn’t transparent and was kind of clunky. No one really ever knew where a curriculum proposal was in the process.”

One of the top priorities for the business school was making all of their processes more visible and understood, a process that the scheduling team had already been working on with Coursedog.

“My colleagues were working on scheduling to make it more efficient and transparent with Coursedog, and we heard about the curriculum tool that would help us on our end to automate and streamline the course approval process as well as make it more visible to everyone involved.”

The outcomes that the scheduling team saw with Coursedog, plus the fact that Coursedog’s integrated platform would mean managing one less tool and one less vendor relationship, inspired the curriculum team to investigate whether Coursedog could work for them as well.

CBS defined success criteria to evaluate workflows, collaboration, usability features

Keri’s team knew exactly what they were hoping to accomplish with a new curriculum management tool. The overarching goal remained to achieve a streamlined process and more visibility, but they had some specific criteria about how they wanted to accomplish that with their own processes.

“We wanted a tool that meant we wouldn’t need to nudge anyone throughout the curriculum approval process; the tool would automatically move proposals through a workflow and notify the relevant individuals at the appropriate time.”

Next, they knew that they wanted to continue their tradition of collaboration and innovation with curricular updates and approvals, so any new tool they implemented needed to allow for that kind of interaction.

“Appropriate individuals needed the ability to give feedback on a new course syllabus without interrupting a flow.” 

Finally, the team knew they needed a tool that was user friendly. It would only be an improvement on their process if all the relevant users were both able and willing to use the platform.

“The people involved in the curriculum process need to find it intuitive and know how and what they need to do in order to leave feedback.”

Although the school already had a relationship with Coursedog, the curriculum team still took the time they needed to evaluate whether Coursedog made sense for them. Ultimately, the team decided that the fit was there and they were excited to get the solution implemented and work towards that more streamlined, visible curriculum approval process.

Personalized training and support proved key to implementation success

For Keri, the implementation process was a true partnership between her and the Coursedog team. She loved the personalized training and support she received from her implementation project manager, and was excited about getting the customized workflows put together.

“I shared a Word doc with [my project manager], and she helped to create the workflow. We talked through each stage of the workflow about who needs to be involved and any special examples that came up. We even looked at email templates together to adjust them and align them more with our current process to make the adjustment easier for all the end users.”

Not only was the Coursedog team a huge help during the implementation process, Keri was thrilled to discover that it was actually pretty easy to use the platform on her own as well. She quickly learned how to get stuff done in the platform, and was grateful that she wouldn’t need to involve IT on her end or Coursedog’s support team to implement basic changes or updates to the workflows.

“Later on in the implementation process I learned how to add a logic jump to a workflow and realized, not only could I do it myself, but it was pretty easy too!”

As the team is getting closer to their go live date, they are able to really envision how Coursedog will work for them, and how they are getting closer to accomplishing their goals.

CBS aims to evaluate curriculum more holistically and increase inclusive collaboration

Implementing Coursedog allowed CBS to leverage a more streamlined curriculum process and more visibility about the process, but ultimately the goal aims for these improvements to allow the team to better serve students. The prior process was more manual, clunky, and lacked visibility. This meant that it was more difficult to get a large picture of the current curriculum offerings and move any updates through the approval process, issues that ultimately affected students.

“Students are spending money and time for an excellent education here, and if they are taking two classes such as ‘real estate investing’ and ‘real estate finance’ that both teach the same knowledge and skills, that can be frustrating for them.”

Now with Coursedog, they will be able to get a better big picture of their course offerings to see where there are overlaps or gaps. Then they will also have the tools needed to propose and approve of updates and additions to create a more optimized, innovative curriculum for their students.

With Coursedog, CBS now has the tools they need to make those curriculum processes more automated, streamlined, and visible. The positive effects of this change mean they will be able to more effectively review and analyze course offerings, so that they can be confident they are offering a truly excellent education for all of their students.