Whatever happened to …

… the Ontario Curriculum Unit Planner?  (OCUP)

This is a suggestion passed along from the Padlet from an anonymous source.  I suspect I know who did it but will wait for a lengthy reply to this post and a confession.

There were a couple of things that I always figured raised the level of computer literacy among teachers in the province of Ontario.

1)  The Electronic Report Card

2)  The Ontario Curriculum Unit Planner

Both got teachers involved with many things back in the early 2000s.  Just before the release of these products, my superintendent who was the biggest Macintosh fanboy, pulled me aside to talk about this application Filemaker Pro and wondered if I could write a markbook, planning type of application for the board.  At this point, I’d worked with a number of database applications but not this one.

“I could give it a shot”.

Fortunately, for my sanity, OCUP came along and was a very high priority for school districts so I got to do professional learning sessions instead of writing something from scratch.  To support the implementation, the Ministry had licensed Filemaker Pro (I think it was version 2.1) for use in all Ontario Schools.

The first releases were pretty primitive given today’s standards but were cutting edge at the time.  You installed Filemaker Pro and then the Planner documents which opened in the application.  It was “universal”, running on both Windows and Macintosh.  Later, the Planner shipped with a Filemaker Pro Runtime version that made for one simple installation.

It was actually a pretty amazing tool and changed the way that we thought about curriculum and unit/lesson planning.  In the past, I think we all had dog-eared paper Curriculum documents – one for each course – with plenty of highlighting and writing in the margins.

Now, all of the curriculum for all grades and subjects, was in one document.  In its simplest, you could simply browse the resources but the real power came when you would create your own units.  With a few clicks, you’d be pulling in expectations (each uniquely numbered) with just a click or two.  And, you could export units to share with colleagues (or the world if you were so inclined) or just make backups.  But it was all there.  If you wanted to go old school, there were plenty of PDF files to print if you grew up paper-trained.

Of curiosity, I wondered if it still would work today.  I knew that the chances would be slim on the Macintosh but Windows 10?  Fortunately, I had an old Planner CD and installation was quick and efficient.  Windows 10 even let me install in the default directory which was not in Program Files but at the root of the C: drive.  Tsk, tsk.

Check out the installation instructions to see how things have changed.

This is the Ontario Curriculum Unit Planner RUNTIME installation, updated 2005.

This installer allows you to install the complete Planner to a local drive or user network directory.


It is recommended that you ensure that your computer has Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (v4.0 or later) installed prior to running the Planner Runtime.

I played around with it and it worked as well today as it did back in the day.  The date on the CD was 2005 so the curriculum was definitely dated. It wasn’t just one database either.  When the Planner opens, I could 15 extra files opening in the bottom of the display window.

So, what happened to it?  While I did so many workshops on the Planner, it was only a select few that took to it seriously as a permanent tool.  Then, the curriculum changed and that would require that everyone update things.  New courses arrived – for example, I looked for Computer Studies and it was nowhere to be found.  Moving to the web would be the perfect solution but the enthusiasm from the Ministry seemed to wane and the use of the Planner died.  It’s too bad; it really was powerful to have all of the curriculum and expectations in one spot.  It was also a way for the Ministry to ensure that one, consistent message was shared with every teacher in the province.

On the market, there were other products that went even further and allowed for the production of individual lesson plans, recording of marks, integration with Student Admin Systems and Report Cards both elementary and secondary.  It would be a huge task to stay on top of things so I suspect that the decision was made to let the entrepreneurs take over and design a product that they could sell to teachers.  Unfortunately, this also led to the loss of a purely Ontario product on the computers of teachers.

So, how about you reader?

  • Did you ever use the Ontario Curriculum Planner?
  • Did you ever create a unit on your own?
  • Did you ever download and remix the works of someone else?
  • What do you use today for curriculum planning?
  • Here’s your trivia for today – what are the three “Writing Environments” that you could choose from when creating your own unit?

I’d be very interested in reading of your experiences and what you do today.  Please share via comment below.

If you have an idea of your own for a topic for this series, please add it to the Padlet. Make me think!

The entire collection of “Whatever happened to” topics is available here.

OTR Links 08/06/2017

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.