Curriculum Mapping Systems

We are now at a point where we must educate our children in what no one knew yesterday,
and prepare our schools for what no one knows yet.

— Margaret Meade

Curriculum Mapping Systems

In Chapter 10, “What Should We Consider Regarding Technology?” of my book, A Guide to Curriculum Mapping: Planning, Implementing, and Sustaining the Process, I included a quote from Friedman’s The World is Flat:

"Technology capabilities have advanced exponentially in the last 10 years and will only continue to do so."

This statement is more true now than ever, especially when you consider the continuous advancements made in subscription- based and open-source mapping systems, or a mapping feature within multi-functioning management systems. 

I am often asked, “Which is the best mapping system?” My answer has been, and will continue to be: it depends. While all systems are online and 24/7 accessible, they are not all created equal internally. Therefore, it is imperative that you and your leadership team create a mapping-system needs assessment based on your short- and long-range curriculum and instruction goals before beginning the selection process. 

While my book highlights seven pages of specific questions to ask when selecting about a mapping system in Chapter 10, I want to mention three general questions here that are important to ask and ponder regardless of your learning organization’s personalized curriculum and instruction needs:

  • If the curriculum map component is part of a larger management system, how do the curriculum maps interact with the other system components? 
  • How long has the company’s system had a curriculum map component? 
  • Does the company have a dedicated staff to aid in your mapping process that has a full understanding of curriculum mapping and curriculum design?

Due to the availability of Open Educational Resources (OER) in relationship to designing curriculum maps, it is important that your leadership team can differentiate between curriculum mapping and curriculum tracking when considering map-creation capabilities:

Based on a learning organization’s beginning steps in implementing curriculum mapping and designing curriculum maps, beginning with curriculum tracking to record units of study by course or grade level is an okay “place to begin.” For aid a curriculum mapping initiative in reaching sustainability, there will need to be an eventual shift to using a mapping system. And, given a curriculum mapping system is an integral component in the ongoing mapping process, system selection should not be made quickly or haphazardly. Thoughtful contemplation should include:

  • Conferencing with prospective companies by phone or webinars, including asking questions and observing demonstrations of each system’s curriculum map and search-and-report capabilities.

  • Conversing with teachers and administrators in schools, districts, higher-ed program’s already using potential mapping systems to gain insights first hand regarding the pros and cons once implemented. 

Be aware, though, that a robust mapping system is not enough. There is a synergy between a system’s capabilities and understanding the complexities of ongoing curriculum design, assessment, and instruction. Educators must become well-versed in the purposes and processes involved in curriculum mapping, including (but not limited to):

  • How to design standards-based curriculum
  • How to write quality maps with systemic design in mind
  • How to use your system’s search-and-report features to enable and enhance curriculum reviews and collaborative decision-making related to learning, assessing, and teaching.

To meet virtually (Skype: janethale or Google Hangout) or via a phone call (520.241.8797) to discuss “where we are” with your school’s, district’s, or higher-ed program’s curriculum mapping implementation and mapping system selection process, please contact me to set up a consultation time.

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