In the educational environment in which we develop our work, curriculum alignment is a vital strategy to integrate with different educational programs, having as a starting point a curricular base on which to develop the contents that allow us to achieve academic and pedagogical objectives. In this blog, we will explore in depth what curriculum alignment is, its importance, its construction, and how it relates to CloudLabs learning resources. Let’s get started!
What is curriculum alignment?
Curriculum alignment refers to the systematic organization of the essential elements of an educational program: learning objectives, standards, subject matter, learning strategies, assessment, and available resources. It is a process that seeks to ensure that all these elements are aligned and complements each other to achieve the proposed learning outcomes, allowing, in turn, the incursion of new educational content that reinforces and promotes learning. In short, curricular alignment is the gear that unites and guides the components of a curriculum in complement with CloudLabs’ pedagogical and practical material.
The basis of curricular alignment is the objectives or standards that an institution has set as a learning goal. These objectives are clear and specific guidelines that describe what students should know at a given academic level and be able to account for at the end of a course or educational program. Learning objectives should be consistent with the educational standards established by an institution, state, or country; and reflect the skills and knowledge necessary to meet current educational needs.
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What is curriculum alignment for?
Curriculum alignment is a fundamental input in the educational field since it allows to achieve several indispensable objectives. First, it allows students to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve the established educational standards. In addition to aligning learning objectives with the standards and content necessary to address them, educators ensure that their educational programs focus on measurable and relevant outcomes.
In addition, curricular alignment helps educators to be clear about what students should learn and how they should assess student progress based on learning objectives and assessment criteria, thus designing effective strategies to evaluate student progress in a standardized and reasonable manner. Curricular alignment guarantees coherence and academic relationship of a curriculum, and it also promotes the articulation of new pedagogical strategies and educational resources.
Curriculum alignment acts as a guide to assess appropriateness and relevance when new pedagogical strategies or educational resources appear. Institutions can analyze how these new strategies align with existing learning objectives and validate their contribution to and reinforcement of students’ acquisition of relevant knowledge and skills.
What are curriculum standards?
Curriculum standards are guidelines established by those considered influential in the education sector to define the knowledge students should acquire and demonstrate at each educational level. These standards are usually based on educational research and reflect the skills and knowledge required for students at different academic levels.
Curriculum standards vary by country, state, or institution, but their main objective is to establish a common framework for curriculum design and learning assessment by describing central thematic axes. By following curriculum standards, institutions and educators can ensure alignment with educational programs and established expectations and requirements, which, in turn, strengthens the quality of education.
Different countries have defined curriculum standards to guide teaching and learning. For example, in Colombia, public sector educational institutions are based on the Basic Learning Rights (DBA), which in turn are subdivided into Basic Competency Standards (EBC) to define the knowledge and skills that students should acquire in different cross-cutting areas, such as science and mathematics.
On the other hand, in the United States, institutions adhere to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The NGSS focuses on developing science skills and understanding concepts in the natural sciences, while the CCSS establishes learning objectives for mathematics and its ancillary branches at different school levels. Although these standards may vary from country to country, there is a high degree of coherence between the global contents they cover, understood as the transversality of knowledge in the basic sciences, and this is the factor that allows us at CloudLabs to develop and relate innovative and cutting-edge academic contents that are transversal, to strengthen and develop competencies that these standards propose for students.
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Curriculum alignment at CloudLabs
CloudLabs, as an educational ecosystem, recognizes the importance of curriculum alignment and strives to offer resources that meet the curricular standards outlined as an academic reference in different countries. Thus, based on a study of transversal modules and the curricula of several countries, we have developed, updated, and even created new educational content from the theoretical component for the learning units and activities and the practical component in the gamified simulation environments.
It allows us to be aligned in a considerable percentage with the curricula and academic bases of different countries, with a great reference to the national curriculum of Colombia with the DBA and the United States curriculum at all educational levels with the NGSS and CCSS. In this way, we have been able to carry out this academic exercise with the curriculum of about 25 countries so far, among which are Spain, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Dominican Republic, Australia, Brazil, and Ecuador, where we not only take into account the standardized information they handle but also relate the contents that, as a company in the education sector, we can offer to strengthen the learning process, making it dynamic, pedagogical, and striking for the student, with practical situations that involve and challenge their knowledge and skills.
It is beneficial to highlight that CloudLabs carries out the training and support process for curricular alignment and construction with those educational institutions that wish to implement the platform in their academic and pedagogical work. In this process, the curricular design of the interested institution is analyzed, and a detailed evaluation of its standards and learning objectives is carried out. Based on this information, CloudLabs works closely with the institution to align the different resources available on the platform with the institution’s academic goals and standards.
The curriculum alignment exercise also allows for feedback and a broader picture of the educational needs in different institutions, regions, and even countries, to continue optimizing, innovating, and developing new content, not only in STEM areas but also in vocational and more specific areas.