Modular Curricula

Rationale

The Ethiopian Civil Service University (ECSU) has been implementing modularisation of its curricula since December, 2011. The rational for modularisation of ECSU curricula stems from

  1. the policy Impetus from the Ministry of Education,
  2. The worldwide good practice and
  3. ECSU’s objective of professionalising education,

again following the policy guidelines from Ethiopian ministries.

What and Why Modularised Curricula

Modular curricula involves a significant paradigm change from conventional university curricula that divides knowledge into rigid parts, time and sequences. Basically we can identify four cornerstones or pillars of modularisation vis-a-vis conventional curricula:

  1. paradigm change: from rigid organisation of knowledge to flexible learner friendly,
  2. systems approach: modules are well defined components of a global whole,
  3. interfaces and synergies: self-contained modules drive multiple functions and produce synergies, and
  4. resource efficiency and transparency: modules connects and exchange resources

State of Modularisation at the ECSU

As of December 2013, the ECSU is into third semester of modularisation for its entire 16 Master programmes. In addition, we are into the first semester of modularisation for three Bachelor programmes. The rest of the Bachelor programmes shall start implementing modularised curricula from February 2014.

Modularisation in any context, including in Europe and North America, is a complex project and it takes time to unravel the potentials and benefits. It is about changing a running system without disruption. In order to achieve that, the ECSU modularisation project has ensured its sustainability through allocating resources, training of stakeholders, organisational development and monitoring and feedback.

To begin with, all stakeholders are trained on module descriptions and didactic design. Bologna process is taken as the model (internationally compatible), but the whole process and content is rooted in Ethiopian and East African contexts. Each institute and programme at the ECSU now has curricula development teams, module coordinators, module contacts, and the process is guided by the ECSU modularisation standards.

The ECSU modularisation process is strengthened by the constant access to key documents in multiple formats. The Modular Curricula Handbook, the module description templates, didactic design templates, Programme and Assessment Regulation can be accessed at any time by any stakeholder. Trainings on demand are available on modularisation and didactic design. The ECSU intranet, purpose built for modularisation, makes accessibility and interaction effective and efficient.

The ECSU puts same emphasis on access to module materials by the students, again in multiple formats. Besides the digital documents, a module resource centre has been created at the central library where students can access module descriptions and didactic design for each module, and associated materials at any time.

The modularisation process can only be perfected through continuous feedback from the stakeholders, especially the students. For that purpose, we have established a module management system, including monitoring and feedback. The ECSU is in the process of receiving the second cycle of feedback and these will go into enhancing the modules in the next cycle.

Finally, the competence centres – the Centre for Academic and Professional Development (CAPD), and the Development Learning Centre (DLC) – being capacitated to support the ECSU modularisation on a sustainable basis.

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