Curriculum Moves Into the 21st Century

By Celene Barrera ‘15

The College curriculum, released last week, has found its home online at curriculum.bennington.edu. Classes for Fall 2013 are available as well as a tentative schedule for Spring 2014. Students can now search for classes by professor, credit amount, course length, course level, and areas of study. Also available is a search bar, and the curriculum has been adapted for a mobile phone. Another feature involves the tag cloud, which shows the most frequented course descriptors and themes. It features phrases such as “culture,” “environment,” “design,” and “theory.” Students are still registering for only the fall term, and the process remains the same.

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Last fall, the Dean’s Office and SEPC conducted a campus-wide survey about academics. The survey, meant to “assess student sentiment about registration, the schedule of courses, and curriculum,” had 149 full/partial responses.  One strong takeaway from the survey was the desire for more classes in Social Science and Math/Science/Computing.  In terms of availability, however, 90% of students indicated that they are generally able to take the courses they want.

Students have had mixed feelings about the move. Some enjoy the technological flexibility, while others miss the old format.

One sophomore remarked, “I like it… however, I wish I could still see all the courses listed on one page. It’s nice to know what’s going on, even if I’m not taking that class.” In contrast, a junior said, “Like all attempts at technological innovation on the College campus, it is flashy, aesthetically there, yet effectively non-functional- like Moodle.”  

The office, however, is not finished making changes. Director of Academic Planning, Zeke Bernstein, remarked that the Dean’s Office has been reviewing and has been in multiple conversations about what the curriculum represents and how it can be changed to fit the Bennington Community:

“Philosophically, what does our curriculum represent, how do we show it to you, how do we talk about it… I would say in the longer term, [we’re] involved in different conversations about the real substance of the curriculum… we as a community can think about what we teach here…and I’m hoping that can be a dialogue.”

In future developments, the “Online Tools” section of the Bennington website will also undergo a revamp, and will be designed by an outside contractor.  The software will be something similar to Moodle, with the intention of consolidation of all the forms that exist currently in the Online Tools section—plan documents, schedules, transcripts, etc. 
 

Malia Guyer-Stevens