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It’s Time to Rethink How Often College and High School Courses Are Revised

It’s Time to Rethink How Often College and High School Courses Are Revised

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Wally BostonMore than 40 years ago, my high school chemistry teacher authored high school and college chemistry textbooks. During the school year, he updated our assignments based on the next version thereof. As an undergraduate and master’s student, I had some professors who provided us with pre-publication draft papers to supplement course texts. For most of my classes, however, syllabi changes were infrequent and usually only modified for page or chapter changes in the latest version of the same text utilized for years.

In defense of the faculty, my pre-doctoral studies preceded the era of the PC and the Internet. Despite the many technologies available today, such as Learning Management Systems and integrated applications like Google Docs and Microsoft Office, undergraduate course and program revisions are not revised as often as you would expect. With the quantity of content accessible through the Internet increasing at a breakneck pace, along with improvements in mobile technology and the Internet of Things, it’s time to rethink how often textbooks and resources are updated and the process for implementing curricular change (graduate courses are presumably more current given the mastery required). This is especially important for courses in rapidly-changing fields like IT, computer science, engineering, medicine and related fields, homeland security, cybersecurity, etc.

Developing and implementing curriculum that provides students with a solid base of knowledge is not easy. It’s not surprising that program directors and deans are hesitant to revamp a curriculum that satisfies students and faculty for its quality and relevancy. However, when examining the exponential changes that occurred in tech fields as computing devices evolved from standalone to local network-connected and wireless to Internet and cloud-connected, many of those shifts occurred as rapidly as the cost of processing chips decreased and the variety of specialty chips increased. Artificial intelligence programs that write computer code will accelerate the proliferation, connectivity, and functionality of smart devices.

Many say that today’s graduates are not ready for the workforce. Instructors will be unable to keep up with all the changes in their field and continue to become more specialized. However, a diverse team of academics equipped with readily available automated search tools should be able to coordinate with outside advisors from industry, meeting once or twice a year to review potential curricular changes to keep the programs and courses more relevant for students and prospective employers. The teams and departments that are able to successfully develop and implement a more frequent program and course review cycle will be rewarded with increased student demand and satisfaction as well as increased levels of attention from employers seeking to hire graduates able to apply their college learning to their new jobs.

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In July 2016, he retired as APUS president and continued as CEO of APEI. In September 2017, he was reappointed APUS president after the resignation of Dr. Karan Powell. In September 2019, Angela Selden was named CEO of APEI, succeeding Dr. Boston who will remain APUS president until his planned retirement in June 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. During his tenure, APUS grew to over 100,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 90,000 alumni. In addition to his service as a board member of APUS and APEI, Dr. Boston is a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, a board member of the Presidents’ Forum, and a board member of Hondros College of Nursing and Fidelis, Inc. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. Dr. Boston lives in Owings Mills, MD with his wife Sharon and their two daughters.

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