A Collaborative Approach for Creating Curriculum and Instructional Materials

Article excerpt

Many states--and more particularly rural states--have trouble funding technology in education even when state technology coordinators know the benefit each technology initiative will provide to its students. Furthermore, many teachers lack training in computer technology, and they do not have the time, resources, or opportunity to explore it on their own.

In the case of North Dakota, a partial answer to the funding question came from a $287,000 grant to North Dakota State University's School of Education from the USWEST Foundation in 1995. The grant was used to fund a multifaceted project designed to assist K-12 teachers integrate multimedia educational tools into their day-to-day teaching (Hosskisson & Stammen, 1997; Nelson & Sologuk, 1996).

Although the project focused on teachers and educators using multimedia, the methodologies adopted and the lessons learned may be applicable in other domains. Furthermore, because the curriculum materials were implemented as learning modules on the World Wide Web (WWW or Web), issues of translating traditional paper-based courseware into a interactive, nonlinear, Web-based curriculum can be addressed.

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT METHODOLOGY

Designing and implementing effective education and training materials-- especially when they incorporate and/or integrate new technologies--is a difficult task, because course design and its implementation are often likely to extend the competencies of any one individual (Hoskisson, Stammen, & Nelson, 1996). One of the project's underlying goals was to investigate how well Ohio State University's Systematic Curriculum Instructional Development (SCID) and Developing a Curriculum (DACUM) processes functioned as methods for creating competency-based curriculum and instructional materials in a largely interdisciplinary environment. Another project goal was to investigate whether or not these processes--which are well established for creating effective print-based curriculum materials--would also be applicable to creating Web-based curriculum materials.

DEVELOPING A CURRICULUM (DACUM)

DACUM is a relatively new and innovative approach to occupational analysis developed by the Center for Education and Training for Employment at Ohio State University. It has proven to be a very effective method of quickly determining, at relatively low cost, the competencies or tasks that must be performed by persons employed in a given job or occupational area. The profile chart that results from the DACUM analysis is a detailed and graphic portrayal of the skills or competencies involved in the occupation being studied. The DACUM analysis can be used as a basis for curriculum development, training needs assessments, student achievement records, worker performance evaluations, competency test development, and job descriptions. DACUM has been successfully used to analyze occupations at the professional, technical, skilled, and semiskilled levels.

DACUM operates on the following three premises:

* expert workers can describe and define their job more accurately than anyone else,

* an effective way to describe a job is to define the tasks that expert workers perform, and

* all tasks, to be performed correctly, demand certain knowledge, skills, tools, and attitudes.

A carefully chosen group of about eight to ten experts from the occupational area form the DACUM committee. Committee members are recruited directly from business, industry, or the professions. The committee works under the guidance of a facilitator for two days to develop the DACUM chart. Modified small-group brainstorming techniques are used to obtain the collective expertise and consensus of the committee. The DACUM committee is carefully guided through each of the following steps by the facilitator:

* Orientation

* Review of job or occupational area description

* Identification of general areas of job responsibility

* Review and refinement of task statements

* Sequencing of task statements

* Identification of general knowledge and skill requirements of the occupation, tools, equipment, supplies, and materials used, and desirable worker traits and attitudes

* Other options, as desired (that is, identification of entry-level tasks)

Because of their current occupational expertise, committee participants do not need to make any advance preparations. …