Curriculum design is the roadmap for instructors and teachers to follow that engages the learner. It goes beyond increasing the knowledge base of the student but helps them to apply theory to practice. One of the most common ways that instructors have taught students is through lecturing, however, it does not provide a connection to critical thinking that encourages the student to want to learn more about the topic. Our students are the future generation of leaders with innovative and brilliant minds ready to take the world by storm with new ideas.
One question I have always asked my students in my 20 years of teaching is, “What do you really want to learn?” And I have been met with the same answer repeatedly, “We want to learn more about life skills.” We learn these in our daily activities, but what they were really saying is that they want to take what they learn inside the classroom and apply it to their life. Their articulation of what learners need led me to an insight on curriculum design.
There are four fundamental keys to designing curriculum that engages and empowers the learner to go beyond expanding their understanding of the material and applying it in their everyday lives.
Interactive Activities Inclusive of All Learning Styles
Beginning with the end in mind is crucial when creating curriculum and learning styles can either help or hinder our students’ growth. By incorporating diverse and inclusive activities for learning, students understand the topics in a way that is specific to them which increases their excitement and engagement. There are seven types of learning styles: visual, auditory, logical, verbal, kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Providing a balance of all of them in various components of the curriculum, such as course assignments and lesson plans, gives students an opportunity to excel.
Relatable to a Global World Culture
By 2050, the BIPOC population will account for up to 60% of the United States population and will make up a majority of the workforce. As the workforce is evolving, so is the education system and one way to prepare is to include topics and lessons on culture that are not heavily focused on Eurocentric culture but share the histories and stories on a deeper level of a variety of communities, including Native American, Latinx, Black, African, Asian, and others.
Quantitative and Qualitative Measures of Success
Learning outcomes are often designed to start with what we would like our students to take away from the experience, such as increased knowledge and understanding around a particular topic. We examine the percentage of students that met this goal but sometimes miss the qualitative measures the follow students after they have left the classroom. Our assessments should also measure the skill development that our students can put into practice in their personal and professional lives.
Incorporate a Good Balance of Technology
With technology use growing at a rapid pace, it is essential that we prepare our students for the future. We have incorporated laptops, iPads, SmartBoards, video conferencing systems like Zoom and new learning management systems (ex., slack, Moodle, google classroom, kahoot, etc.) to engage students. To go to the next level, we should consider partnering with corporations to teach our students using the latest AI technology and to give them access to it in learning environments.