Curriculum Planning in the Time of COVID-19: Tools for Managing an Uncertain Future

Besides wreaking havoc on our personal lives, COVID-19 blew all our plans for the end of the 2019-2020 academic year to bits. And that is not even mentioning how it has impacted this new year so far, some of which still remains to be discovered as we move into the fall and winter months. Many of your institutions put out short-term or even year-long plans on returning to class in this new normal we are trying so hard to construct. Even with a plan in place for the larger institution, we are often left to our own devices when trying to figure out the logistics of how to make that plan a reality within our programs. Not to mention what happens when plans are continually changing. We survived August but what will September or October hold, much less the spring? We just don’t know. So how can we proceed from here? How do we move forward with planning and mapping our curriculum without knowing anything about what the future holds? Below we review four key areas for planning and mapping in an uncertain environment.


To call these past few months overwhelming would still be an understatement. With so much to manage, we are all looking to gain a bit of breathing room back in our day - especially when things keep changing on us. Luckily, Leo provides built-in efficiencies that you can utilize for managing events, courses, small groups, mapping and more.

Import all your events (i.e. learning sessions) for a particular course at once - including details like date, time, location and even mapping information! The event import tool creates all of your events (in bulk) automatically in Leo from one file for a course. Once your events are created, there are multiple tools for making changes and updates, and even rolling everything over from one year (or semester) to the next!

The course rollover tool saves you time and energy - use it to create a new year or semester with all of the data for your courses and events that you want to keep and use again. Pick from a variety of options or choose them all! You can even include all of your mapping data in the rollover, making it easier to show consistency from between academic years or to track any curricular changes. This helps by quickly creating a baseline from which to then make changes, rather than having to reinvent the wheel each time you need to create a new schedule. If your curriculum is generally similar from year to year, you can create a new academic year with a few clicks - changing only as you need to, whether from COVID or otherwise. 

Default mapping options can also save you a ton of time, and help prepare your data for the annual Curriculum Inventory (CI) report for the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). Leo already comes loaded with the necessary mapping elements for the CI Report, including the Physician Competency Reference Set (PCRS), the Medbiquitious terms for the CI Instructional and Assessment Methodologies (IM/AM) and even the optional CI Resources. By associating a primary IM or AM for each event type (ex. lecture, lab, small group discussion, etc.) - any time that event type is created in the system, the default mapping is already applied for you. Even when importing events for a course in bulk! Need to update something? Not a problem - Leo offers you flexibility with an override option so you can modify your event mapping at any time. We even keep track of instances where you may have forgotten to set a default - and save you a step by applying that default for you in certain cases! The mapping done through these (and other) options, will then be pulled into a report for submission to the AAMC CI directly from Leo. 


The tentative events feature in Leo provides built in flexibility, with an ease of use that will be appreciated in these busy times. You can plan ahead by importing and setting up your courses to the best of your knowledge at the time - then you have the control to mark all events as tentative or live with just a couple clicks. As a tentative event, nothing is visible to the students - just administrators like course directors, course coordinators and faculty. This allows them to work behind the scenes to upload materials, prepare discussion boards, embed videos and much more. Everything will be ready when you want to flip the switch from tentative to live.

Need to make changes? With the nature of medical education and the times we are living in, chances are some sort of change will be needed. The event management report screen in Leo lists all events in a course and provides quick access for making changes, like updating a location, modifying start/end times and more. This screen is also a great management tool to get a good overview of what the course looks like at any given time. Course coordinators will appreciate being able to view, modify and manage events from one place. Tools like this support your ability to be agile, so you can respond quickly to any (large or small) changes that may occur.

While having the tools to be flexible and agile are especially important right now, without a global pandemic things do tend to change. Leo helps you efficiently make necessary modifications by providing multiple tools for doing so, either in bulk or for one-off adjustments. We could all use some extra time back in the day, even if just for a moment. With the use of these tools, working through the to-do list just got easier.


Necessity fosters creativity and we have all certainly had to be creative lately! Whether you have turned to various formats for teaching and engaging in telemedicine, needed to switch to a virtual exam platform or find new manners of assessing students, Leo can help. Beyond the built-in exam and evaluation functionality, Leo’s discussion boards are being used in creative ways to foster engagement within small groups and larger classes. Leo also allows for embedding videos and other interactive content within both events and courses - providing options for distance learning and supplemental materials for in-person lectures.

Need a way to keep track of important paperwork, communicate student progress information or foster collaboration and conversation between advisors and students? The Academic Portrait provides a place where you have creative control to design a portfolio that suits your institution. Customize it how you wish, to be a place for students to upload immunization records, acknowledge that they have completed important tasks, store letters of recommendation or updated CVs or anything else you want. Students can upload documents into the portfolio with ease, keeping things in one place and sharing updated information with mentors and advisors. There is even a tool for real-time collaboration on noteworthy characteristics. 

With these tools, Leo can support your curriculum online, in the classroom or a combination of both. Even once this pandemic is no longer controlling our lives and educational decisions, Leo will still provide the tools and resources to continue being creative with curriculum delivery and interactions with students. Flipped classrooms may be part of the future of medical education now that we have been forced to really consider the role that technology can play.


These past months have certainly been challenging! Being in it together, and with a renewed openness to sharing material, curricular and best practices has helped avoid reinventing the wheel for every institution - even when it feels like you are building that wheel from scratch, there are so many resources out there to support you during the process. In fact, I don’t know about you but I have certainly been overwhelmed at times from the sheer magnitude of various webinars, papers, virtual conversations and workshops being offered. While I sincerely hope that this spirit of collaboration and support remains, there simply never seems to be enough time to learn it all! 

That’s why, here at DaVinci Education, we have multiple resources, tools and forums for sharing lessons learned, best practices and relevant resources - how and when you need them. Beyond the webinars and office hours for live interaction with our team, there are multiple ways to get a question answered quickly - whether via our Help Desk or our extensive User Guide. We are also well aware that life (and work) can get in the way of best laid plans - so the resources are also available on-demand so you can watch a webinar at the time that suits you best. We even attend national webinars on relevant topics, then send you the information you need most.  Then, even if you don’t have time to participate to get the latest information on new guidelines and best practices for things like the CI report, the information will come directly to you from our listserv or mailing list. Getting you the data you need (and tips for using Leo) without wading through extraneous information that may not be relevant to you.

While times may be tough and the future uncertain, the DaVinci Education team is here to support you. By focusing on efficient workflows, providing flexible tools for whatever the future holds, and options for creative solutions, Leo provides you with the agility you need for your medical education program.