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Curriculum Management: Tracking Course and Program Details in a Complex Academic Enterprise

As a follow-up to our February 2022 article about the scope of the Student Information System (SIS) Project, we wanted to provide an update on an in-scope area of the project that the team is currently focusing their attention on: curriculum management.

SIS Project: Curriculum Management vs. Learning Management

In Scope

Out of Scope

  • Curriculum management
    • Catalog creation and maintenance
    • Workflows, transparency, and tracking for course and curriculum approvals
  • Learning management
    • Course content management and delivery (lectures, quizzes, discussions, etc.)


Curriculum management systems and learning management systems manage different kinds of content. “A curriculum management system helps the institution manage and track the meta-data of courses and programs or how courses and programs evolve and go through various approval and review processes,” explains Carlos Jensen, Associate Vice Chancellor for Educational Innovation and Chair of the governance committee for the SIS project.

At the course level, a curriculum management system tracks the overarching details of a course, such as the description, student learning outcomes, quantity of units and hours or format of the final. It also tracks who proposed what changes, who reviewed these, and when they went into effect. Tracking and being able to report on this kind of data is essential to accreditation and degree certification.

On the other hand, explains Katherine Collins, Ed Tech Support Manager for Information Technology Services, “a learning management system (or LMS) is an eLearning platform for students to access the course syllabus, discussions, quizzes, lecture recordings, assignments, etc. Today’s systems are also able to integrate companion teaching tools that enable additional functionality like auto grading quizzes, plagiarism detection, peer collaboration, access to course reserves, and more.”

UC San Diego currently uses the Canvas LMS to manage course content, and we will continue to use Canvas post-implementation of a new SIS. Canvas was implemented in 2019 and designed to grow and evolve with the university. However, we do not currently have a curriculum management system, and having a system is critical to our ability to manage our growing and increasingly complex academic enterprise.

Out of the 10 campuses in the University of California system, only UC San Diego and UC Riverside do not have curriculum management systems. Implementing such a system would positively impact both faculty and staff, specifically in the areas of catalog creation and management, course and curriculum approval, and version control for courses, curricula and catalogs.

While awaiting a decision on the RFP for a SIS vendor partner, the SIS project team has been engaging in preliminary research to learn more about curriculum management and the systems currently on the market. Colleagues from UC Merced and UC Irvine have also provided demos of their systems to the project team and university stakeholders.

While each system offers slightly different functionality, most systems offer the following:

  • Catalog creation and management
  • Multiple workflows for course and curriculum proposals
  • Tracking and managing student learning outcomes in courses and curricula
  • Historical tracking and version control for course and curriculum data
  • Tracking of metrics required for accreditation
  • Integrations with other systems, such as student information, learning management and degree audit systems

Now that the project team better understands what a curriculum management system can offer to the university, the next step will be additional conversations with university stakeholders to understand their needs, priorities and pain points.

“Our goal is to engage with the broad academic community at UC San Diego to ensure that we identify and implement a curriculum management system that will lessen the burden of our administrative staff, while allowing our academic colleagues to innovate and continue to shape the outstanding educational experience we offer,” says Jensen of the process of finding a system that best meets the needs of the university. “In the end, our success with this project will positively impact staff, instructors and students by removing slow, often manual, and labor-intensive process work tied to curriculum improvement.”

Category: News, Student & Faculty