Curriculum Development & COMMS

Curriculum Development is central to Academic Quality at Mohawk College. Curriculum is developed with the end in mind and highlights the connection between:

  • Program Vocational Learning Outcomes (VLOs)
  • Essential Employability Skills (EESs)
  • External Standards (ESs)
  • Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)
  • Course Assessments, and Experiential Learning activities (EL)

The Course Outline Mapping and Management System (COMMS) highlights all of the connections between these elements of Curriculum Development at the course and program level.

Curriculum development is supported through the Centre for Teaching & Learning

Curriculum Development

Course Learning Outcomes

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) are central to your course’s curriculum. They articulate to students, faculty, and other stakeholders what students will achieve in each course and how their learning will be measured.

A Learning Outcome (LO) is a measurable, observable, and specific statement that clearly indicates what a student should know and be able to do as a result of learning.

More details about writing course learning outcomes.


Assessment is the process of gathering information about how well a student is achieving specific outcomes. Through assessment, faculty gather information about student performance, provide students with formal or informal feedback, and guide students to improve their learning.

Evaluation is an assessment of learning – where students demonstrate their learning through a performance task that faculty can use as evidence of student achievement. This evidence is how we determine whether a student has met the learning outcomes for a lesson, unit, course, or program.

More details on how to develop assessments.

Course Descriptions

A course description is a brief summary of the significant learning experiences for a course. Course descriptions appear in individual Course Outlines and in the Program of Studies (POS) for individual programs.

More details on how to write course descriptions.

Learning Plans & Lesson Plans

These are developed by faculty teaching a specific course. They identify the learning outcomes for a specific lesson, helping faculty to focus on the content and provide students with a clear understanding of how each lesson connects to the overall course learning outcomes. 

More details about learning plans and lesson plans.


Course Outline Mapping Management System (COMMS)

COMMS (Course Outline Mapping and Management System) is a cloud-based web application designed to facilitate the standardized creation, management and archiving of course outlines. The Course Outline is a contract between the college and the student that provides information on the curriculum and learning students will experience in a particular course. It articulates the specific outcomes students will achieve in the course, identifies how those outcomes will be measured and assessed, and includes information about course-specific resources and policies.

All course outlines must be entered into the Course Outline Mapping and Management System (COMMS) and submitted to the Associate Dean for approval. PDFs of approved outlines must be posted in MyCanvas course to be shared with students.

COMMS is developed and enhanced by Algonquin College.

COMMS at Mohawk College is guided by the Program Curriculum policy.

COMMS Tutorial

The system has a built-in help button (by clicking on the ? sign) on each page. (MyMohawk login required)

Access to COMMS is provided once the person has a valid contract in banner. When logging into COMMS, the system checks if the user has an active contract. If the user does not have an active contract they will receive an error message and will not be able to login.

COMMS Timelines

There are two distinct timelines for the COMMS system.  A timeline for Full-Time and a timeline for Continuing Education.

COMMS Postsecondary Roll Over

  • Once per Academic Year - End of April 

COMMS Continuing Education Roll Over by Term

By Term:

  • Spring/Summer - Second week of March
  • Fall - Second week of July
  • Winter - First week of November

COMMS Process

Process For Review And Approval

  1. Faculty will access COMMS through MyMohawk and make edits to assigned course outlines. If new faculty are to be assigned as writers, please submit a list ASAP. Alternatively, program coordinators can do this.  In the same way, if program coordinators are to be changed, please advise Jaspreet Dhindsa, COMMS Support Specialist who will make those changes or the Associate Dean can also log in and make the change.
  1. Once faculty have completed their edits, click submit. Course outline will then go to the program coordinators, who will review and submit to the Associate Dean for approval. Please note, after submission, no further edits can be done, unless the AD returns it for editing.
  1. Once approved, an email with a pdf link of the approved course outline will be sent to the faculty, who should then upload it to their MyCanvas course for students’ use.

This way, course outlines are completed and approved for the September start of the academic year.


Selecting A Role In COMMS

There are four common roles in COMMS:

  1. Course Outline Writer is identified by the Program Coordinator to enter or revise the content of a course outline and to map the course to the program’s Vocational Learning Outcomes.
  2. Program Coordinator is assigned by the Associate Dean to assist in identifying course outline writers and to review outlines submitted by the Course Outline Writer before they are submitted to the AD for approval.
  3. Associate Dean assigns program coordinators, reviews, approves and/or un-approves course outlines, and can add departmental information to a course outline.
  4. Associate Dean Designate is identified by the AD to perform all tasks available to the AD, except approving/unapproving course outlines. That remains the task of the AD.

COMMS Resources

Associate Dean Role in COMMS

  • Sign into MyMohawk, and click on Faculty tab. On the right hand side you will see a section called COMMS.
  • Associate Dean assigns program coordinator, approves and/or unapproves course outlines, and can add departmental information to a course outline.
  • To add Define Department Information:
  1. Click on Associate Dean/Associate Dean Designate
  2. Click on Define Department Information
  3. Select the Department from the dropdown list
  4. Click on Edit
  5. Add or update the department related information and click SAVE CHANGES

Identifying Program Coordinator

  • Click on Associate Dean/Associate Dean Designate
  • Click on Identify Program Coordinators
  • Select the Department for which you want to assign Program Coordinators, and then click “Select Department”
  • Click on Identify Program Coordinator. Enter the name using his/her College User ID (ex. John.Smith3). Program Coordinator will be notified by email.

Approves Course Outlines

  • Click on Associate Dean/Associate Dean Designate
  • Click on Approve Course Outlines and
    • 1. Select the department
    • 2. Select the program
    • 3. Select the level (semester)
    • 4. Select Waiting for Review
  • To review a course outline, click on Preview (on the left hand side) to look at the outline. Once reviewed close the PDF.
  • Click on Approve/Return for Editing. Enter your name for Approved By and Approver’s Title. At the bottom of the window, you can click on APPROVE or RETURN FOR EDITING, using the textbox to explain where further edits are required.

Unapproved Course Outlines

  • Click on Associate Dean/Associate Dean Designate
  • Click on Unapprove Course Outlines If you know the Course Code you want to unapprove you can search for the course outline using the search field.
  • OR choose
    • 1. Select the department
    • 2. Select the program
    • 3. Select the level (semester)
    • 4. Select currently approved
  • Click on Unapprove
    • 1. Select Return to Course Outline Writer (for editing) or Return to Program Coordinator (for review)
    • 2. Please provide comments and click the “Unapprove” button

COMMS - Understanding Your Course Outline (2020)

Course Outlines

Course Outline Sample

  • Every college course has a course outline. It describes the content and evaluation method of the course. It also outlines college policies and procedures.
  • A course outline gives you great information about the course that you did not even know existed!
  • Course outlines can help you plan your time and predict what the professor expects from you.

Course Outline contents

  1. Course Description: 
    What the course is about.
  2. Relationship to Vocational Learning Outcomes: 
    Why are you learning what you are learning.
  3. Relationship to Essential Employability Skills:
    Remember this section when you write your resume!
  4. Course Learning Outcomes/Elements of Performance:
    How you will be assessed and what you need to know by the end.
  5. Evaluation/Earning Credit: 
    What is required for you to actually get your course credit.
  6. Learning Resources:
    What you need to buy or get for the course.
  7. General college information: 
    Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition, Grade Scheme, Course Related Information and College Related Information

 Read first 
Read first

  • Course Description
  • Learning Resources
  • Course Learning Outcomes/Elements of Performance

 Read second 
Read second

  • Evaluation/Earning Credit
  • Relationship to Vocational Learning Outcomes
  • Relationship to Essential Employability Skills

 Read third 
Read third

  • Course Related Information
  • Department Related Information
  • College Related Information 

Learning Plans

Sample Learning Plan

  • The learning plan outlines very specific information about what will be taught, when it will be taught and what resources will be used.
    • See sample.
  • Basically, learning plans tell you what you have to do and when.
    • Good information to have for time management!
  • Learning plans will be posted on MyCanvas for many of your courses.
    • Look carefully as they may not all look the same.

 Read first 
Read first

  • 2.0 Faculty Information
  • 7.0 Weekly Learning Plan – this is the section you will care most about!

 Read second 
Read second

  • 4.0 Learning Outcomes
  • 5.0 Assessment Outline

Read third 
Read third

  • Review the additional sections including 1.0 Course Information and 6.0 Course Specific Requirements.

Terms and definitions

ALO = aboriginal learning outcome – under development

CLO = course learning outcome Course learning outcomes (clos) describe the knowledge, skills, and attitudes successful Learners must achieve at the end of a course.

EES = essential employability skill Essential employability skills (ees) are skills that, regardless of a student’s program or Discipline, are critical for success in the workplace, in day-to-day living, and for lifelong Learning.

EOP = element of performance Eops should identify the steps students take that build toward the larger outcome, using equal Or lower-level verbs from bloom’s taxonomy.

ES = external standard These are standards established by professional bodies aligned to your program of study and to which each course must be Aligned. This ensures you are meeting the required competencies of those professions where licence to practice is essential.

PLAR = prior learning assessment and recognition The prior learning assessment and recognition (plar) section of a course outline describes how to earn credit for the course Through previous experience.

VLO = vocational learning outcome Vocational learning outcomes (vlos), otherwise referred to as program learning outcomes (plos), are statements that describe What learners will know and be able to do when they graduate from a program. They are closely linked to the credential Framework and provincial program standards set by the provincial ministry of training colleges and universities. Terms & definitions

Assessment levels

T = taught New principles/concepts will be taught to students in this course. (Remember, if you teach it, you must assess it).

A = assessed New (or previous) principles/concepts will be formatively or summatively assessed in the course. (Remember, if you assess it, You must have taught it somewhere in the course, except in the case of reinforcing or reviewing prior learning for diagonistic Purposes).

R = reinforced Prior principles/concepts foundational to new content delivered in the course will be referenced, reviewed and possibly Assessed. Reinforcing prior knowledge/skills may be more applicable to labs, clinical, vocational courses. A diagonistic Assessment at the beginning of a course would be classified as (r). This diagonistic might be evaluated (graded) or Informatively assessed. Now that you have your course outlines and learning plans you need To use this information effectively.

Program Coordinator Role in COMMS

  • Sign into MyMohawk, and click on Faculty tab. On the right hand side you will see a section called COMMS.
  • Coordinator is assigned by the AD to assist in identifying course outline writers and to review course outlines submitted by the Course Outline Writer before they are submitted to the AD for approval.

Identifying Course Outline Writers

  • Click on Program Coordinator
  • In the next window, Click on Identify Course Outline Writers
  • Using the menus, choose:
    • 1. Your program,
    • 2. Click on the course you wish to assign
    • 3. Enter the course writer’s name using his/her College User ID (ex. John.Smith3)
  • Click on Add Writer. Only assign one course writer per course. The writer will be notified by email that the outline is ready for entering

Review Course Outlines

  • Click on Program Coordinator
  • Click on Review Course Outline
    • 1. Select a program
    • 2. Select waiting for review
  • To review a course outline, click on Preview (on the left hand side) to look at the outline. Once reviewed close the PDF.
  • Click on Review/Return for Editing At the bottom of the window, you can click on Forward for Approval or Return for Editing, using the textbox to explain where further work is required.

Need further assistance?

Jaspreet Dhindsa is available to provide assistance with the COMMS system. 
jaspreet.dhindsa1 [at] (subject: AQ%20Website%20%7C%20COMMS%20Inquiry) (Email Jaspreet)

The system also has built-in help (by clicking on the ? sign) on each page.  

Contact us

Still have questions? Visit the contact us page to meet the team, and get your questions answered!