Curriculum is a concept that has attracted a lot of discussion in respect to the way it can be appropriately defined. According UNESCO and IIEP (2006), there is no single definition of curriculum. Nonetheless, most definitions focus on the syllabi and learning materials. The broader definitions regard curriculum as a concept that includes other factors within and outside the school systems.
Traditionally, curriculum referred to a group of courses that form part of the school’s education program. It may be taken to mean theapproved courses that have to be accomplished for a student to be promoted to the next educational level. As the world continues to modernize its education systems, various definitions have also come up. In this respect, curriculum can be defined as the organization of sequences of learning outcomes.The sequences are entrenched in the education system of the concerned country, and are aimed at meeting the major goal of achieving quality education (UNESCO and IIEP, 2006).
The schools and colleges have designed curriculums to enable students to come out of colleges as competent individuals in respective fields. This is aimed at meeting various professional requirements in the ever-changing modern world. Therefore, this has contributed to the need for curriculum development in education systems worldwide.
Curriculum development has been described as the careful planning of the aspects that are taught within an educational institution. This should be in line with the courses and programs adopted by the schools (Hedden, 2012). The aim is to develop a curriculum that ensures educational sustainability in the long run thereby achieving the purposes of national development. Curriculum development usually focuses on major and minor topics and courses that will ultimately contribute to the students’ career development. Curriculum development refers to a wide range of discussions by different professions and organizations that make decisions concerning learning experiences. Such decisions need to be integrated in a national, regional, or local education system to ensure sustainable development (Braslavsky, n.d.).
Curriculum development varies from country to country. The process can be controlled from a national level by the ministry of education or individual states as the case in some federal countries (Braslavsky, n.d.). Centralized countries usually follow a top-down approach in the development of their curriculum. In this regard, the curriculum is presented to teachers who, once they adopt it, they must make the learners assimilate it. Eventually, the curriculum is evaluated by the parties concerned.
According to Braslavsky (n.d.), the society can also drive curriculum development. This is referred to as the bottom-up curriculum development. The responses collected by teachers and other education officials are evaluated, and then, standards are set for further curriculum development. This system is mostly used by decentralized governments.
Professional organizations that influence curriculum decisions
The curriculum being developed must effectively address the issues of relevance, sequence, and integration in a given community’s set up (Stabback, 2007). Therefore, the process is bound to be influenced by various professional organizations that are out to ensure that the curriculum meets the diverse, fundamental, national, economic, social, communal and personal objectives without any form discrimination. The organizations are usually composedof individuals from a common profession or specialization. Over the years, these organizations have actively participated in curriculum development to ensure sustainability of their objectives. This is done with the aim of expanding knowledge and skills in their line of operation (Hedden, 2012). Some of the organizations that can influence curriculum development include: Accountants Association, Professional Engineering organizations, and the National Councils of Teachers.
American Accounting Association-AAA
The article aimed at integrating professionally oriented faculty into significant aspects of accounting education, programs, and research.
Professional Accreditation of Engineering programs
The article aimed at assuring that academic programs are geared to adequatelyunderpin professional registration.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
This article aimed at providing guidelines related to the teaching and learning of mathematics among students. This was meant to ensure that all students attain equal Standards-based mathematics education. Also, the teachers were assured of the growth opportunities in respect to their profession.
Curriculum design and development
Curriculum developmentprocessinvolves the design and development of integratedplans for learning, how toimplement and evaluate the plans, and checking the outcome. Designing the curriculuminvolvescriticalanalysis of theteaching and learningframework. The purpose of the designstage is to elucidatecertainactionplans for achieving the curriculumobjectives. The processis done professionally and technically to avoid any overlap between the topics and the course. This results in the development of syllabuses that focus on certainareas or subjects. The ultimateresult of the process is usually a coherentflow of topicsregarding the course in question. Fundamentally, curriculumdevelopmentensures that studentsreceiveintegrated and coherentlearning experience that contributes towards their personal, academic, and professionallearning experience (Stabback, 2007).
Variousstepsare involved in the process. These stepsare majorly followed when a newcurriculumis required, or whencurriculum reforms are indispensable. Curriculum developmentinvolvesstep by step contextual scan and research of relevantbestpractices. Consultations with various stakeholders followed by development of a curriculumframeworkare conducted before syllabusesare agreed and the subjectswritten. The agreedplansare thenimplemented, and proper monitoring established to check whether everything is in line. The review and amendment of the contents is thusnecessary for the wholeprocess to succeed.
Usually, the process is systematic and with a clearfocus on sub-systems to avoiddisastrousoutcomes and waste of resources. Systematicprocess in the developmentof the curriculum enables the elimination of any potential loopholes. At the sametime, this articulates the internationalstandardsbenchmarks (Stabback, 2007).
The role of technology in curriculumdevelopment
Technology continues to play a greatrole in curriculumdevelopment around the world. Over the years, technology has played a significantrole in the worldeducationcurriculums. This has beenviewed as the greatestimprovements that curriculumdevelopment has everwitnessed. Computershavebecome a means of informationdelivery where webcurricula and onlinemodules are the commontechnologies that havepositivelytransformedcurriculumdevelopment (Ali, 2008; Scholl, 2001).
Technology has supplemented the delivery of learningresources due to the growingnumber of publication and technologicalbreakthroughs in research. Technological advancement is nowofferingstandardizedinstructions and learningenvironment that is familiar and that which can be accessed from anywhere (Ali, 2008). This has resultedto greater satisfaction amongst learners since they can share and accesscommonresources. Technology has alsoreducedtime for curriculum developmentin a considerable manner as compared to the previousways of curriculumdevelopment. Efficiency has alsobeenachieved in the development of the curriculum as compared to traditionalmethods that required a lot of time (Scholl, 2001).
School-wide Curriculum developmentinitiative
The Ministry of Education is charged with theresponsibility of undertakingextensivecurriculumresearch. This is aimed atcollectingrelevantresponses of what should be changed, introduced, or doneaway with to improve the curriculum. This involvesconsultation from parents, teachers, educationofficials and administrators, and professionalbodies among other stakeholders. The findings are thensubmitted to the specialcurriculumreviewcommittee that analyzes the process before agreeing on the areas and subjects that need to be addressed. Proper measuresare established to ensure that the plansare implemented. Also, properchecksare instituted to evaluate the progress of the plans (Braslavsky, n.d.). The close monitoring of the processfacilitatesfurther amendments to the curriculum.
The major challenges faced during curriculumdevelopment can be classified into three categories. This includesinternal, social, and external challenges. With regard to internal challenges, the curriculumdevelopmentis usuallyfaced with the challenge to conform to the requirements by the ministry. These requirements are important to the schools in question. Socially, the cultureusuallytries to impact on the processdemandingraft of changes that recognize its values and norms. Externalforces may alsoprevail in curriculumdevelopment to ensurethat the proposedcurriculumaddressesissues of internationalconcern like health, science, and humanrights (Stabback, 2007).
Curriculum development is a complexprocess that requirescommitment of the organizationresponsible and the various stakeholders. The process should be conducted transparently and systematicallyso that the outcomes of the wholeprocessbecomecredible. The curriculumdeveloped should embracemoderndevelopments in technology. It should alsomeasure to the internationally acceptedstandard of an efficientcurriculum. This will ensureproperintegration of the educationsystem of the country.