Curriculum mapping for pedagogical change? Case studies from Asia

Phillip A. Towndrow 1, Michael Vallance2
1National Institute of Education, Singapore, 2Future University, Japan

Curriculum mapping is recognised as a continuing process for orchestrating the scope and sequence of a curriculum to inspire coherence across grade levels, avoid unnecessary redundancies and provide teachers with timely feedback on curriculum implementation so that positive modifications can be made (Hale n.d.; Wiggins and McTighe 2007). Yet, while some might be attracted by the pragmatic affordances of structuring learners’ understandings of important ideas based on the ‘givens’ of subject-specific syllabi, the input and significance of learning technologies in particular classrooms are less certain due to individual teachers’ beliefs and classroom practices.To better understand how curriculum mapping might be used as a vehicle for innovative and sustainable pedagogic change, and to illustrate the challenges, this paper presents case study evidence from two cultural contexts in Asia where 1:1 laptop programmes have been implemented very differently to meet the needs and interests of 21st century learners.In the Japanese case study all undergraduate students at a particular university are required to purchase a laptop. Although the university is deliberating upon its curricula beyond the traditional boundaries of departmental syllabi, the appropriation of digitally enabled teaching and learning remains weak. Curriculum planning is thus being used to facilitate an inter-disciplinary curricula that will make informed use of the students’ laptops.In contrast, education in Singapore is centrally-controlled and focused largely on the transmission of print-based skills. Evidence from one particular high school reveals the tensions that occur when top-down institutional direction for students to perform well in national high-stakes examinations meet the more dynamic demands of applying technology in particular tasks. At present, curriculum mapping is being used in departmental meetings as a way of operationalising the “whats” and “hows” of the curriculum but is this enough to enhance and motivate meaningful mobile learning?This paper provides a much-needed illustration of the unique planning and implementation issues surrounding the responsible use of curriculum mapping techniques within a non-western, digital learning context. Hopefully, this presentation will stimulate further cross-national comparative research efforts and discussion about the processes of technology-driven educational change.Hale, Janet. (n.d). Curriculum mapping 101. Retrieved 21 December, 2008, from http://www.curriculummapping101.comGrant, Wiggins, and Jay McTighe. 2007. Schooling by design: Mission, action, and achievement. Alexandria, Virginia: Association for supervision and curriculum development.