They have lots of names and are used in a variety of ways, but most schools have some sort of curriculum guides, learning standards, frameworks, curriculum maps, or other such resources to guide instruction across grades and schools. They're also resources for parents, accrediting agencies, and others looking to evaluate a district's curriculum. Producing these documents can be as simple as going and buying a full curriculum, but usually (and optimally) is a lengthy collaborative effort between teachers and administrators. The results of the effort will ideally be living documents that teachers access regularly and use to develop lessons, measure progress, and coordinate with colleagues.
So what does this have to do with education technology? It's on my mind because I'm working with the curriculum development efforts in our district, both as a math/technology consultant and as the one who will ultimately need to build these documents in a format that is easily accessible by teachers. It's this latter part that I'd like to explore here and get some suggestions/sharing going on in the talk backs.
There are a number of requirements for our curriculum documents that teachers and administrators have defined:
- One set ordered by our state frameworks
- One set ordered by the actual sequence in our schools
- A template that teachers can use to map the curriculum document to actual activities in class (e.g., this week will cover the following standards, use these book chapters, and involve these assessments/activities)
- Documents must be editable by multiple members of the writing groups contributing to their development
- Documents must be accessible online
- Easy enough that users can focus on the content, not the tech
As I considered the best way to meet these requirements and actually implement the documents in electronic form, a few possibilities came to mind:
- Google Docs (template management can a pain, but we're all familiar with the interface and collaboration features work very well)
- Google Sites (again, template management can be an issue, but the hierarchical organization would be well-suited to the effort)
- A wiki (Can this handle the organization by grade and by content area? Will the presentation be usable for parents/outside agencies?)
- A content management system (template management is still an issue, but presentation and organization would be very strong)
- Moodle (a bit unconventional, but subject areas could be organized as "courses" and all of the supporting documents could easily be attached to each course)
- A relational database management system (I know Access is a bit 2003, but the idea of storing data in a straightforward system and then presenting it either online or via reports in whatever manner we choose is appealing)
So what's a tech director to do? I'm leaning towards Google Sites, since we use Apps anyway and I could pre-populate a site with tables and templates. However, I'm concerned about the scalability and organization as we ultimately reach 6 or 7 content areas and 14 grade levels.
Many schools just post PDFs of their curriculum documents, but those become static snapshots and may not be as intuitive or interactive in terms of navigation as other schemes. What have you done? Let us know in the talkbacks.