Have you ever wondered who writes the textbooks kids use in schools today? Are you aware of how online courses come about? It's not as simple as sitting and writing a text or using existing materials to create a self-paced video. Years of data and methodology ensure that a new course or book can engage this generation's students and help them succeed.
With so many changes to schools today, new curriculum options are in high demand. If you're curious about how to become involved in this process, curriculum design and implementation may be a potential career path for you.
What Is Curriculum Design and Implementation?
Curriculum design is the creation of a new curriculum. Curriculum implementation is how it's executed effectively in the classroom. Together, they encompass the development or step-by-step process by which school courses and curriculum options are updated and improved. Because the world is changing quickly and the skills necessary for students to thrive are always changing with it, the coursework of K-12 schools and colleges needs to accommodate these shifts.
Curriculum development is sometimes a reactive process, as how COVID-19 has challenged schools to come up with new options for remote classrooms and online learning. However, curriculum development can also be proactive. Many school districts look to revise their curricula regularly, using the latest practices and up-to-date, student data to guide them in revamping materials. Even if course content (what is taught) stays the same, the way learning is delivered (how it's taught) may change to reflect the needs of the modern student.
How Are the Curricula and Courses Made?
The textbooks and courses we see today are usually categorized using two philosophies: a product model and a process model. The product model looks at grades and assessments to create a curriculum with a results-oriented approach. The process model focuses more on the journey and how students learn over time. It is more nuanced and doesn't depend solely on outcomes to determine performance. Still, both models have their place in curriculum development.
Design theory plays a vital role in how courses are taught as well. There are three generally accepted types of curriculum design:
- Subject-centered design focuses on the topics taught, with less regard for the student or learning styles of the classroom.
- Learner-centered design acknowledges the individual needs of the student and gives instructors a variety of materials to choose from, but it can take longer to implement.
- Problem-centered design takes real-life scenarios and challenges the student to problem-solve using transferable skills.
The curriculum designer should know all three and understand which one is best for the curriculum goals at hand. Many courses use a blend of each to meet student needs, teacher needs and time or technology constraints.
How to Get Started in This Field
If the idea of creating the next textbook or course for a classroom excites you, curriculum design, planning or development might be the career for you. While things are changing quickly, colleges are teaching the best practices for this field today.
A Master of Science in Curriculum & Instruction with a focus on K-12 gives you the foundational skills for creating lesson plans based on high-achievement outcomes and practical data. Plus, you can earn a degree with this focus in as few as 12 months. As classrooms continue to change over time, you'll be poised to use new research and trends to adapt your approach.
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