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Following the acquisition of 10 campuses, Medtech, a nationally accredited post-secondary network of colleges and institutes with the goal of advancing health care career training, recently launched a curriculum initiative to standardize more than 100 program versions. The curriculum alignment will ensure that like programs – no matter where they are taught – share the same objectives, credits, competencies, program outcomes, student outcomes and standards, except where otherwise dictated by state approval agencies.
It’s a mammoth undertaking led by Medtech’s Ebony King, Senior Director, Program Development. "In becoming one company, we have a need for standardization across all campuses in order to accurately monitor curriculum program outcomes and student outcomes," she says. "We needed a curriculum management system that would house and track all our curriculum information and streamline standardization of student assessment, program and learning outcomes."
WIDS – Medtech’s curriculum management system – serves as the institution’s central Web-based curriculum development and management platform. The new system will house Medtech’s latest programs, courses, syllabi, outcomes and assessments. WIDS, according to King, will help faculty and staff design programs, courses and curriculum maps; align standards, outcomes and assessments; and develop assessment rubrics and outcome assessment plans. Moreover, it serves as Medtech’s tool for organizational management of curriculum workflow, approval and archiving.
"We also will develop some assessments and allow faculty to create others," she says. "WIDS will help us ensure assessment tools properly evaluate student and program outcomes."
By aligning like curriculum, "a student who gets a phenomenal experience at a Georgia campus, can attend a Maryland campus and receive the same level of extraordinary learning," King notes. Medtech’s mantra is hands-on learning. "From the time students walk in the door, they are engaged in their field," she adds. "At many other schools, students go through a variety of general education courses first. Whereas, at Medtech, they take field-focused courses much earlier in the program, along with a gen-ed core."
Medtech awards associate degrees, technical diplomas and certificates, just like many technical colleges, and strives for programmatic accreditation to meet the highest standards, according to King.
In planning the alignment process, King first trained key personnel on the use of WIDS – a new system at Medtech. She worked with WIDS Consultant Terri Johnson to train Medtech’s directors of education and program directors – the academic leaders on each campus. "While they may not use WIDS every day, it is important that they understand the system and the vital role it will play in the Medtech curriculum development, tracking and revision process," she says. "Once training was complete, these leaders returned to their respective campuses and spread the word that WIDS was coming."
All Current Syllabi
At each campus, faculty and program directors were asked to enter their current syllabi into WIDS, so they familiarized themselves with the process, and could see and access all institutional curriculum at a glance from the Internet. More than anything, King says, this process kept WIDS intrigue high – helping garner enthusiasm during a time when more tedious program alignments were in the works.
Second, King established program-specific committees, comprised of faculty and staff from all campuses. These program groups are charged with developing one aligned program, such as nursing, for use at all Medtech campuses. For example, nursing faculty from all campuses, along with program chairs, might get together, talk about best practices in nursing, and develop an improved nursing program that shares the same competencies, standards and outcomes at each campus. The program directors serve as program committee chairs and assign roles to other committee members, such as developers and reviewers.
"Roles are assigned according to the responsibilities established in WIDS," says King. With WIDS, there is a workflow process for the life cycle of curriculum projects along with customizable security roles and permissions to ensure unauthorized persons do not have the ability to edit courses and programs. Establishing those roles is completely up to individual organizations.
Once the program committee finalizes its work, the group shares program curriculum with the institutional committee via WIDS, using a paperless review process. "The institutional committee can go into WIDS and see revisions and reviews and make approvals," says King. "Eventually, all like programs offered via Medtech will teach to the same standards and outcomes."
King anticipates this could happen as early as June 2012. "Our focus is student outcomes and what is necessary for students to be successful," she says. "It’s important to meet the learning outcomes that we establish."
King believes WIDS will help achieve that goal, because it facilitates development of competency-based, learner-focused curriculum. But WIDS also offers a central site for the storage, dissemination and approval of curriculum, so King won’t have to waste time "hunting down" courses and programs.
"There’s a one-stop shop to help us track and monitor curriculum and student outcomes," she explains. "The only way to appropriately measure and see success in student outcomes is by having a common system. It’s very important to have a central place to review and see curriculum."
Medtech, which has 10 campuses in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C., provides personalized hands-on, practical learning experiences in such programs as Nursing, Medical Assistant, Medical Billing and Coding, IT, Allied Health, and English as a Second Language (ESL). To learn more about Medtech, visit www.medtech.edu.