Archive for

Online College Courses: Putting Yourself Through School

Some college students have the benefit of being able to attend traditional classes without the need to work to support themselves. Other students, however, must hold down a part-time or even a full-time job while putting themselves through school. Managing the workload and time commitment of work and school can be challenging and stressful, and this is even truer when you attend a school that does not offer the flexibility of evening and weekend courses. Many students who are putting themselves through school are now turning to online college courses for their education.

Anytime you attend live courses, whether those classes are held during evenings, weekends or daytime hours, you must ensure that your work schedule doesn’t overlap into your school hours. Registering for classes each semester can be a real trick as you try to manage finding the right classes you need at times that won’t interfere with your work schedule. Inevitably, at least one of the classes you need will be filled for the time slot you need, which causes the need to hassle with shuffling work and school hours around. When you attend online college courses, however, you will enjoy the convenience of taking your classes around your own schedule. You don’t have to sign up for a certain time slot, but instead you just need to make sure you find time to do your schoolwork each week. You can even do your schoolwork at different times each week, and this flexibility is a true benefit for busy students who are working to put themselves through school.

There are now dozens of schools around the country today that offer online college courses, and there are accredited online degree programs in a variety of disciplines as well. You can really take the stress and hassle out of earning your degree while you work when you earn your degree online.

Six Ways to Showcase Your Curriculum to LCME Using Intelligent Curriculum Management Software

When it comes to curriculum, preparing for your accreditation review can be a complicated process. The Liaison Council on Medical Education (LCME) in conjunction with the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) is more intensely focused on maintaining the standards around curriculum than ever before. What does this mean for your school?

  • Accreditors are asking for more proof and more rigor around standards, which means you have to track and report on more information in more detail and at more frequent intervals.
  • Your curriculum committee is held to a higher standard than ever before, which means you need the right tools to adjust your curriculum on a more frequent and planned basis as the needs of society change.
  • Instead of making changes once every four or so years, you need to demonstrate a process of continuous improvement.
  • The LCME is phasing out CurrMIT and putting a new Curriculum Inventory Portal in place to facilitate a more frequent transfer of more detailed information. Your school will be required to have tools in place to enable this data transfer by 2014.

This trend toward a more rigorous focus on curriculum standards is expected to continue and will likely increase. The implications? Waiting for years between accreditation reviews and then conducting a major overhaul just months before an accreditation review will likely no longer be an acceptable practice.

Do you have the resources and tools to manage these changes?

Traditionally, accessing, tracking and presenting curriculum information has been an onerous task, requiring many hours of research, analysis and tedious report writing on behalf of administrators. In many cases, significant duplication of effort is spent exporting data from one system and uploading it to another, and hours are spent formatting the data in Word or Excel. As accreditation and reporting requirements become more rigorous, and the amount and frequency of information and detail required increases, many traditional methods of reporting will simply require too much overhead and become unsustainable.

So what is the answer?

Intelligent curriculum management software. With recent software innovations, you can virtually eliminate the duplication of tasks and save vast amounts of time spent unnecessarily accessing and re-entering data. With all data centralized, you can easily track, aggregate, sort and analyze information, and then directly link it to national reporting databases, such as the LCME’s CurrMIT.

Currently, many schools do not upload their curriculum information to CurrMIT because they don’t have an efficient process in place to do so. However, by 2014 all medical schools in North America will be required to systematically report their data against national standards through the LCME’s new Curriculum Inventory Portal (CIP), which will replace CurrMIT. To do this, every school will need to have some sort of tool in place to facilitate the data transfer. One of those tools is intelligent curriculum management software.

Here are the top six ways you can use curriculum management software at your school:

1. Give All Stakeholders a View

Your school needs to enable students, residents, faculty, and administrative staff to access their learning objectives, course schedules, assessments and learning materials – often across multiple geographic locations. To further complicate matters, each stakeholder group requires access to different types of information, and at different access levels. This is a daunting challenge, especially when you consider the number of faculty, students and courses at your school. Nevertheless, access to much of this information is actually required under LCME accreditation standards. For example:

  • The ED-3 standard requires that all medical students, faculty, residents and others know the objectives of your medical program.
  • The ED-24 standard requires that residents who teach must “receive a copy of the course or clerkship/clerkship rotation objectives”.

Using intelligent curriculum management software, all of your information is entered and stored in a central system. You are able to set up different access levels and customize software views for unique audiences – which can be accessed through any computer or mobile device that is connected to the Internet. The result? All of your stakeholders will be able to access the information they need, when they need it. And you will be able to export and report on this data at any time.

2. Identify Gaps and Redundancies

The LCME’s ED-37 standard mandates that all medical schools must monitor their curriculum, including the content that is taught in each discipline, in order to ensure that educational objectives are achieved. With new software technology, you are able to track objectives, content and learning activities for every course, and easily identify redundancies and gaps. Better yet, you can say goodbye to accreditation issues as you will be able to easily demonstrate the comprehensive nature of your system and access specific course and learning details.

3. Track and Report on your Different Teaching Types

The LCME’s ED-5-A standard requires that “the methods of instruction and assessment used in courses and clerkships will provide medical students with opportunities to develop lifelong learning skills.” This means you need to link educational and assessment methods back to individual learning experiences, and then report on this data in a way that showcases the types of teaching that make your school unique. With intelligent software, all data school-wide is tracked centrally, enabling you to more easily create reports for accreditation purposes.

4. Demonstrate “Hot Topics”

The LCME’s ED-10 regulation requires that in addition to basic science and clinical subjects, your curriculum must include “behavioral and socioeconomic subjects”. These subjects fall into the category of Hot Topics or issues of the day that many government agencies, including the federal government, would likely be interested in. Using intelligent software, you will be able to track and report on where and when these hot topics are taught in your curriculum, and satisfy educational requirements.

5. Reduce Time Spent Entering Data for LCME

It can take up to eight to 10 hours for administrative staff to enter data for just one course into the CurrMIT system, and this doesn’t factor in maintenance time. Imagine how much time you’re wasting by manually entering in the data for every course in your curriculum? With intelligent software, you can link directly to the CurrMIT system and simply transfer the existing data that was originally entered by your faculty. With the LCME transitioning to a new CIP in 2014, it’s important to make sure you select a curriculum software tool that will be able to transition with you.

6. Get More Done Than Just Mapping

With traditional curriculum mapping software, you only access your software sporadically to map or make adjustments, and the rest of the time it falls out of use. With the new comprehensive and intelligent software available today, mapping is completely integrated with other functionality that is used by staff and students daily, including scheduling. Because you’re using the system as a part of your day-to-day operations, you will be much more likely to keep your mappings up to date and avoid costly efforts to quickly produce mappings for accreditation.

As accreditation standards around curriculum continue to tighten, how prepared is your medical school to track and report on more and more data related to learning – and keep up with the increasing demands of learners and competency-based education trends? Do you have the right tool in place to meet the new LCME data transfer requirements for their new CIP that will be in place for 2014?

By implementing the right curriculum management software system, you can better manage vast amounts of data, meet important accreditation requirements and demonstrate a process of continuous improvement. You will eliminate task duplication and drastically reduce the amount of time spent entering and re-entering data. Best of all, you will gain a comprehensive system to map, manage, schedule and assess your curriculum.