There's the curriculum you roll the program out with (fingers crossed the people that pulled it together were at least aware of the Ed SIG Curriculum Framework) and then the tinkering and fine tuning that goes on from that point on. It's like an MMO -- the launch is the beginning, not the end of the process.
How far can we take this analogy? Pretty far, actually...
- Both academic programs and MMOs need hefty amounts of resources to initially develop, before either one of them sees a single paid player/student.
- Both are based on a similar pay model: pay-per-month or pay-per-semester, regardless of how many classes you take or how often you're logged in.
- Multiple sections of a course are the academic equivalent of instanced dungeons.
- Character classes are the MMO equivalent of an academic major.
- Look at a skill/tech tree for a class in a typical MMO. Looks suspiciously like a list of classes and prereqs, doesn't it? (Hint to game schools: try adding a "tech tree" diagram to your course catalog and see if it doesn't remove half the pain from your academic advising.)
- In theory, an MMO wants its players to stick around forever; in practice, it's recognized that there is regular churn (you could call this the game equivalent of "graduation"), and so the developer/school must be concerned with attracting new customers/students as well as retaining existing ones.
The analogy does break down eventually. I don't think I've ever sent my students on a "fedex quest" in exchange for grades, nor can my students buy better equipment in my classes in exchange for cash. Students could theoretically sell their work to others at an online "auction house" but it's against the TOS/EULA of a class to turn in work that isn't yours (unlike many MMOs). You can buy "pre-leveled" characters but not a "pre-completed" degree.
Still, perhaps schools could be improved in some aspects if administrators took some cues from WoW.