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Building a Curriculum Inventory: Where Will Your CI Data Live and Thrive?

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Where will your curriculum data live?  The answer is not a one-size-fits-all one. Like all the factors that go into a house hunt, finding the right place to store your curriculum data requires your institution to mull many important questions. 

CI's Technical Platform

You will need a technical platform for your CI data to live, and that technical platform needs to produce a CI data file that is in full compliance with the MedBiquitous technical standards, including required and optional elements.

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Just as people can choose a variety of types of homes to live in, whether it’s a studio apartment in a large city or a house in a sprawling suburb, the home you choose will vary depending on your life’s goals – e.g., a short commute, a big backyard, etc. So too with your CI, there are multiple types of “homes” (i.e., technical platforms) you can choose. Each one will come with pluses and minuses.

To decide your CI “home” for the future, we suggest going back to the goals you identified in Chapter 1 and considering which CI technical platform will help you to meet your goals. Perhaps you need a CI that will be easily searchable by your students, or a CI that is integrated with your students’ calendars.

Task #1

Review your school’s goals for curriculum mapping.

With each step in the CI building process, it may be helpful to seek guidance (e.g., advice and lessons learned) from schools who have been successful in this area – this is especially true before choosing a technical platform. Remember that once you have your CI data in a technical platform, it may be challenging to remove it and start over if you change your mind down the road. Because curriculum can change rapidly and regularly, you will want a system that can adapt as your curriculum evolves.

Task #2

Contact other schools to collect lessons learned about their technical platforms.

Historically, one third of schools who participate in the AAMC CI program use their own institutionally developed systems. When building their own institutionally developed systems, a relatively simple system, like an Access database, may be sufficient to meet the AAMC CI standards and your school’s CI goals. Others may want a system with more bells and whistles. Going back to the goals you identified in Chapter 1 may help narrow your options. If you are curious about pursuing an institutionally developed system, consider reaching out to the curriculum community to get feedback from schools who have developed their own systems.

If you choose to build an institutionally developed system, it will be important to consult the technical standards on the CI in Resources for CI Developers. You may wish to refer to your list of data points to be collected (Chapter 1, question 2). In general, the AAMC CI collects data typically found in a CMS or LMS. It does not collect things like curriculum policy, individualized student data, or assessment and evaluation outcomes.

Initial CI Data Quality Planning

The goal of any data collection is to have usable data for searches and reports. You may want to think about the types of curriculum reports and searches you want to have. It may be helpful to consult the AAMC CI reports content, so that you can ensure the data you will collect will successfully populate those reports. You can find sample reports in Resources to Use Your CI Effectively, such as the Verification Report and the Accreditation Support Report. You can also find national aggregate reports on the curriculum report website, and your school’s CI Portal.

Learn how to access the CI Portal in the user guide

For example, perhaps your school has recently completed a curriculum renewal effort where increased use of case-based learning (CBL) was a goal. As case-based learning is one of the instructional method choices you can use in the AAMC CI (see complete list here), you may want to double-check that your curriculum pre- and post- the curriculum renewal effort is consistently and accurately tagged with case-based learning according to the definition provided, so that you can then measure your school’s progress in increasing the amount of CBL in the curriculum.

A list of guidelines for your school’s CI efforts will help support data quality and facilitate useful curriculum reports. Examples of school guidelines could include:

  • Spell out school-specific acronyms. Universally known acronyms, such as ACLS, may be easily searchable and known, but school-specific acronyms can be difficult to identify for curriculum reports. For example, if we find “ACE” in the CI, does that refer to adverse childhood events or ACE inhibitors? At one school, ACE may refer to “acute care for the elderly”, but unless those words are spelled out, it may be challenging to find all the relevant elder-care curriculum.
  • Check for spelling errors. Many software programs have spell check built in, but even in those cases, it would be helpful to confirm that the system is effectively identifying spelling errors. For example, the word “clinical” can be easy to misspell.
  • Establish a consistent, standardized way to refer to your content in each topic. For example, will your CI have the words “cancer,” “neoplasm,” “oncological,” “tumor,” or will you provide your faculty and staff a list of terms to use consistently across your CI? You may use whichever and how many terms you would like, but keep in mind that you may need to keep these many terms in mind when creating a data search query once your CI is built. The AAMC CI keyword list may be a useful resource to ensure consistency across some terminology in your CI. More details regarding keywords are provided further along in this workbook.

Task #3

Begin drafting an institutional “style guide” for curriculum documentation and consider including the AAMC CI keyword list as part of this document.

Chapter 2 key questions

  1. What technical platform will house our CI data?
  2. What will our school guidelines be for consistent curriculum documentation?
  3. Now that we have some additional information and insight, do we need to make any refinements to the list of data we intended to collect?
  4. What kinds of curriculum searches and reports do we want to be able to produce?

Got questions or feedback? Let us know at ci@aamc.org.

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