Mapping Programs, Courses, Core Competencies using WIDS

Engaged in a yearlong initiative, Anne Arundel Community College, in Arnold, Md., is working to map every credit course and program in its institutional catalog. Using WIDS as its centralized curriculum management tool, Anne Arundel is linking course outcomes to program outcomes, program outcomes to institutional core competencies, and courses to core competencies. In the end, using WIDS, the College will see – in a snapshot – where course and program outcomes and competencies link.

Recently, Anne Arundel embraced WIDS as its new curriculum management system. WIDS serves as the institution’s central curriculum management platform, according to Nassim Ebrahimi, Director of Learning Outcomes Assessment. The Web-harnessed system facilitates the design of programs, courses and curriculum maps; alignment of standards, outcomes and assessments; and the development of assessment rubrics and outcome assessment plans.

Moving current curriculum files into WIDS was the first step in using the new platform, says Ebrahimi. “We collected all of our information from our course catalog – course numbers, description and titles, as well as any curriculum files – and converted the data into new, usable files,” she says. “Then we uploaded all of the files into the new WIDS management system.” The process, according to Ebrahimi, was fairly seamless.

Now, every credit course and program in Anne Arundel’s 450-page catalog – 100 percent of the programs, degrees and certificates – are represented in WIDS.

Organizing Curriculum into Units & Subunits

“We decided to organize all of our curricula into ‘units’ and ‘subunits’ in WIDS so courses and programs directly matched our organizational structure,” she says.

For example, in WIDS, a “unit” is a major division in the organization. At Anne Arundel, there are four academic schools, or units. Within each school, there are directors, chairs and coordinators responsible for a discipline. And, within each School, or unit, there are several subunits. A subunit generally holds a collection of programs and courses. Every program and course is owned by one of the organization’s subunits.

“Because we map curriculum according to our organizational structure, the roles are simpler to determine and approval processes run more smoothly,” says Ebrahimi. When assigning roles in WIDS, Ebrahimi gives directors, chairs and coordinators specific responsibilities over curriculum development and approval processes.

Curriculum Mapping

In summer 2012, the College begins its yearlong curriculum-mapping endeavor using WIDS as its tool to accomplish this goal. Using the WIDS management system, Ebrahimi printed blank matrix charts so she could more easily work with staff to link courses to programs. “Creating the matrices was a piece of cake with quick print in WIDS,” she says. “We’ll do the mapping on paper, develop a final version by next fall, and then input the information into WIDS.”

Once in WIDS, the matrices show the mapping in detail, which helps with program review; accreditation; and shows overlap of competencies and gaps in curriculum, maintains Ebrahimi. “The process creates dialogs about curricula, allowing us to visit about how to fill curriculum gaps.”

One program at Anne Arundel – Nursing – is using the new WIDS system to its fullest, according to Ebrahimi. Nursing is already fully aligned and mapped with core competencies, program outcomes, and courses. Soon, faculty will learn to generate syllabi using the WIDS management system. Ultimately, this will simplify accreditation processes.

Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) is an award-winning, fully accredited, public two-year institution serving more than 53,000 students each year through credit and noncredit programs in more than 200 areas of study and more than 2,800 courses.