What is curriculum design?
Curriculum design involves stepping back from individual training courses to create a broader framework for learning. Instead of one role or a group of employees, the audience is groups of employees. The curriculum could span months or longer. Developing leadership bench strength and onboarding new employees are common examples of how curriculum design can support the organization’s learning strategy.
Curriculum design should identify where to leverage a variety of approaches to support learning and development, including:
- In-person or online courses.
- Elearning courses.
- Personalized coaching.
- On-the-job support, such as structured observation and practice, guidebooks and job aids.
- Development opportunities, such as internships and job rotations.
An effective curriculum is also more than the sum of its parts. Curriculum design requires approaching learning as an overall system with the various components working together to develop performance.
How is curriculum design different from instructional design?
When should a curriculum be designed?
Designing a curriculum is important to do when:
- People need to learn a body of knowledge or gain a comprehensive set of skills or competencies.
- The subject matter underlying an industry or line of work substantially changes (such as the digitization of an industry).
- A number of individuals or cohorts are hired for a role.
- An existing role is changing significantly or new products and services are being launched.
- The learning path to progress from one career or job level to the next needs to be defined.
Why is curriculum design important?
Taking the time to design a curriculum ensures:
- Learning is sequenced so employees can perform specific tasks on-the-job as soon as possible.
- Other outcomes (such as personal development or acculturation) are identified and integrated where feasible.
- Technology and different approaches are incorporated according to the employee’s needs and the organization’s environment.
- Employees with different knowledge, skills, experience, needs or goals can take personalized paths through the curriculum.
- There’s a clear progression through the curriculum.
How do you create a curriculum design?
I like to present a curriculum as a visual ‘roadmap’ that shows one or more paths to progress through the learning. The roadmap shows the linkages among the various components:
- Business measures.
- Performance and other outcomes.
- Learning objectives.
- Related learning activities.
Below is the inside page from a sample Curriculum Design that I created in 2002. Click the image to make it larger. You’ll notice the visual style and colour has evolved over time, but the underlying design and visual approach still hold true today.
Where can you learn more?
The Institute for Performance and Learning (I4PL) has identified curriculum design as a core competency for learning professionals. Click here to learn how they structure this competency.
These are projects that include curriculum design:
Email me if you need help painting the picture for your employees and their development path forward.