Curriculum Development for Online Learners

Curriculum Development for Online Learners

Lesley S. J. Farmer (California State University Long Beach, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-791-3.ch007
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This chapter focuses on curriculum development issues as they apply to online education. Curriculum and its development are defined and contextualized within online learning environments. The development of online-delivered curriculum is impacted by social forces, the treatment of knowledge, human development, the learning process, technology, and management issues.
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Curriculum Bases

What are schools teaching students? In the final analysis, the curriculum provides the content that students need to be able to understand and apply so they will be prepared as contributing members of the society. Wiles and Bondi (2011) stated that curriculum may be considered as a cyclic system of development, whereby needs analysis leads to design and implementation, which is evaluated and modified. Wiles and Bondi thus defined curriculum development as “a process where the choices of designing a learning experience for clients (students) are made and then activated through a series of coordinated activities” (p. 2).

Chartock (2000, p. 65) defined curriculum in terms of its orientation, which can be reflected in online environments:

  • 1.

    teacher-centered (traditional)

  • 2.

    student-centered (humanistic)

  • 3.

    subject-centered (academic domains)

  • 4.

    broad fields (interdisciplinary)

  • 5.

    technology-based (behavioral)

  • 6.

    society-based (meeting social needs).

Curriculum and its development can occur on several levels: from an international curriculum, such as media literacy, to a single-incident training about one skill. PK-12 education is the most likely to have a standard curriculum at the state or national level. Professional pre-service curriculum for medicine and teaching are also likely to have standardized student learning outcomes because of licensure requirements. The institutions with which curriculum is affiliated also vary in scope: from a one-person operation to an international consortium. Within each institution, curriculum development needs to address every level of the experience:

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