Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Idea for a curriculum/personal-development map

Totally random, but I was a reading an article for one of my classes when my mind started to wander, eventually landing on the process of selecting your classes in grad school.

I'm a big fan of presenting information visually whenever possible because I think it is generally more intuitive. Right now, most of the tools for planning out your courses/curriculum at Kellogg are primarily text-based: course catalog, major requirements, an Excel spreadsheet planning tool that we are given, etc. It all works out well enough, but I don't think it does a great job of presenting the big picture.

So I sketched up something (redrawn to the best of my ability with the GIMP below) that I think would make for an interesting "curriculum/development map." Although I think it would probably be ideal for a touch-based interface (e.g. iPad), I imagine it could also work via a regular web browser.

Curriculum/Development Map

I haven't worked out everything, but the idea would be:
  • Available courses are organized by discipline and ordered going from more general (the broad foundation) to more specific (deep skills in an area). If you have an idea for what you eventually want to do, you could pick your classes accordingly. For example, someone interested in consulting may prefer to stick with the more general classes, where as someone interested in PE might go full bore into the Finance stuff
  • You could pinch and zoom around to see all of the available classes
  • Clicking/tapping on a class would bring up the information for that class in a side window or something, and the map could draw lines between classes showing requirements, complements, etc.
  • Color-coding would be used to show specific things that the user selects. Like they could look at what classes make up a major, what they've already taken, classes available for a given quarter, etc.
  • The map would quickly show you what areas you are developing
  • There would be "cross-discipline bands" for classes that don't fit neatly into any one area
Of course, something like this would require a lot of thought and planning early on while developing the catalog of available classes, but I think it could be pretty useful for students.

I wonder how other schools manage this.

What do you all think? Any ideas?


  1. Kudos on the use of Gimp..i love it!

    It's a nice idea but not sure how much 'added value' it would have for the typical MBA comments off the top of my head:

    1. The 'x-discipline' pie of classes can become large quite fast especially as more classes are added without specific functionality

    2. The categorizations of classes among themselves is largely subjective

    I agree the Kellogg excel sheet Tool is in dire need of prettying up, but rarely does a career track of courses suffice in terms of preparing a student to hit the ground running in that field. A banker may find himself using his marketing course learnings more than the pure finance classes, while a consultant may end up using his finance courses in developing models for his client. Since these career preparation tracks are entangled, you don't want students focused on a core set of classes thinking this is all they need and they can cruise by the rest of their MBA, which tools like these may support.

  2. Great points! Although I think navigation would be easier (via scrolling, pinch+zoom, etc), you'd also potentially lose the ability to see course titles.

    Maybe the categorization of classes within categories is unnecessary. It might be enough to just get a feel of what areas you've concentrated your classes in.

    The point on behaviors is great. I wonder if and how current tools impact class selection.

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