Curriculum innovation: the key to unlocking better learning experiences

Innovation is key to successfully teaching and learning complex skills such as data science

The customer is the foundation of any business’ success, which is why start-up companies are so focused on continuously enhancing the customer experience. By placing the customer at the top of the priority list, businesses can significantly benefit from improved customer retention and loyalty, and in turn, increased sales.

Educational institutions can also massively benefit from taking this same approach. Similar to start-ups, it’s important to understand the needs of the customer, or students in this case, and build a curriculum to support these.

But in order to create a curriculum that will generate a positive impact, educational institutions need to consider placing a larger focus on the measurement of their courses — from understanding students’ progression, how the students felt about the course on completion and the hiring rates of graduates post-course.

Understanding students’ progression can be achieved through continuous observation throughout the whole curriculum; for example, make a note of their engagement levels throughout the course — are they proactively asking and answering questions, and do they have a high attendance rate?

These monitoring methods will give teachers the valuable insights they need to understand where a student may be struggling and will enable them to quickly iterate the existing teaching methods to ensure students are getting the right learning support that they need. These insights can then also be used to constantly improve and enhance the existing student experience.

The key to achieving curriculum innovation requires consistent iteration. Rather than completing a tick-box exercise, educational institutions should continuously amend or improve the curriculum to ensure not only that it’s in line with current best practices, but that it remains relevant.

Rising remote learning

For those looking to gain new technology skills in a short space of time, immersive courses can be the most effective option. These courses can also be taught either directly on campus or remotely online. But with the self-paced learning courses currently available, it can take several years for students to acquire these exact same skills.

One of the key benefits of an immersive course is the fact that students have the ability to work on more practical-based tasks, all while receiving continuous support from their teachers on a one-to-one basis.

Those who choose to go down the immersive course route can make rapid progress along a steep learning curve and will have a higher chance of getting hired afterwards. In fact, our recent Jobs Report found that nearly all of our own graduates (94%) successfully landed a job within six months after completing a course, with only 37.5 days on average to find a suitable role.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, classroom-based environments were perceived as the most effective way to teach. But the last year has taught us that this is in fact no longer the case, and many educational providers managed to successfully adapt and provide the same high-level of teaching standards to those attending classes remotely.

“If teachers are to replicate the physical classroom and support students remotely, then developing soft skills is critical”

Without having extensive experience in remote teaching, this can be an extremely challenging, yet rewarding time for educational institutions. If teachers are to replicate the physical classroom and support students remotely, then developing soft skills is critical. It’s also important to consider that each student will be at different stages of the learning journey, so teachers must ensure the style and pace of the course is adapted to suit individual needs.

Employability – the end goal

While making sure students are equipped with the skills they need for future success is vital, it’s important to always have the end goal in mind: employability for students. Educational institutions should always judge themselves on their job placement rate — after all, this is what will help to attract new students.

Staying anchored in employability can be achieved through various means. A prime example is ensuring that students’ skills are aligned with their career goals, which means keeping on top of industry best practices. This will not only benefit the students but will help teachers with their own development too.

Looking at STEM-focused courses specifically — whether it’s coding, software or data science — it’s important to ensure students get the support they need to stand out in front of any potential employers. Students should be able to access practical-based classes where they can build their own projects and in turn, gain more experience.

What this means is that students complete the course with an impressive portfolio of projects they can showcase on their CV or discuss in future interviews. But they also need to be able to demonstrate soft skills as part of their learning — these will help them to land a job in evolving industries like data science or software engineering.

The future of learning

While the courses and bootcamps that focus on digital tech skills were already built to provide high-quality teaching methods remotely, COVID-19 has become a catalyst for the adoption of remote learning within all types of educational institutions.

The pandemic has not only changed the way we work, but also the way we learn. The rise in remote-based courses is only going to continue, and educational institutions are likely to take more of a hybrid approach going forward — with a mix of on-site and remote teaching.

But in order to maintain the high-quality teaching standards that were once achieved through a physical classroom, educational institutions need to not only re-evaluate their existing options, but to place a larger emphasis on the needs and requirements of their students, enhancing both their curricula and the overall learning experience.


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