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Training Tools for Curriculum Development. A Resource Pack
Core Modules


  1. Models for piloting

  2. Pilot design

  3. From pilot to policy. Mainstreaming innovation


This module offers opportunities for curriculum professionals to develop their understanding of approaches to piloting by exploring:

  • Possible rationales and objectives for piloting;
  • Models for piloting;
  • Key issues in pilot planning and design;
  • Issues in monitoring and evaluating pilots;
  • Lessons and insights from successful pilots;
  • Piloting practices in local contexts in light of the experience of other countries;
  • The challenges involved making the transition from pilot initiative to mainstream provision.

The reflection proposed to the reader is organized in three activities:

  1. Models for piloting. Discusses several possible models that could be selected to design and conduct a pilot.
  2. Pilot design. Helps in analyzing variables to be considered during the piloting.
  3. From pilot to policy. Mainstreaming innovation. Helps participants to identify possible potholes in the process to transfer pilot experiences to the whole educative system.

Following these activities is a “Resources” section which contains a list of discussion papers and other resources referred to in the activities, as well as additional reading material.

Conceptual framework
A pilot occurs when an authority trials curriculum in a controlled, limited way in order to:

  • evaluate the likelihood of its success when fully implemented, and
  • identify its strengths and weaknesses.

If curriculum changes are introduced without the benefit of a pilot, the legitimacy of the change can be challenged, resistance can increase and final implementation can be jeopardized. An effective pilot can provide an operating curriculum model and an implementation model which will be attractive to policy makers.

A pilot can be an important tool in curriculum development and can provide significant benefits at a number of levels. As part of a change strategy, a curriculum pilot can:

  • Determine the feasibility of a proposed curriculum change;
  • Provide empirical evidence of curriculum viability;
  • Determine curriculum relevance to a variety of selected contexts;
  • Develop new curricula in realistic settings;
  • Encourage experimentation and creativity;
  • Promote or influence processes of policy change;
  • Identify possible impediments to change;
  • Build consensus around proposed policy change; and
  • Develop models or capacity for implementation.

Pilots are normally commissioned by government curriculum authorities, but may be conducted by universities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or schools.
Effective piloting depends on the choice of an appropriate model and on strategic planning. The selection of pilot groups and evaluation methods are often key issues but the development of strong partnerships with stakeholders and the effective dissemination of findings are also likely to be important.

Participants in pilots also experience significant personal and professional development and can take ownership of the proposed change. Lessons derived from the pilot can provide significant insights as they help shape thinking, challenge assumptions, and contribute to the improvement of practice and to the growth of research and theory building. However, pilots are often small scale projects, and the challenges of moving from innovative pilot to mainstream implementation can only be met through collaborative planning and long-term commitment from policy makers.

Collaborative Pilot, Feasibility Study, Field Tryout, Innovation, Implementation, Laboratory Tryout, Mainstreaming, Micro Testing, Piloting. Pilot Tryout.