Iterating on Quality: The TEL Curriculum Development Process

by | Jul 6, 2021 | Curriculum Research

Many companies struggle with consistently creating high-quality products. From textbooks to apps, quality assurance is easily the most difficult and important aspect of product design and development.

As TEL’s Curriculum Development team has scaled their catalog from one course to 29, they have established a culture of iteration to create consistent quality.

Emphasizing Feedback and Iteration

Throughout the development process, TEL’s curriculum team focuses on feedback and iteration. Whether a course has just begun the development process or has existed in the course catalog for a few years, feedback is key in identifying the best updates for course development. Feedback on existing courses can show us the best way to improve that course as well as future courses with similar attributes.


The TEL curriculum team uses the feedback and iteration process to create quality standards following the agile methodology of “definition of done” and “acceptance criteria.” As the team works through this process, they create and update the documentation so quality is a byproduct of consistency. While this sort of feedback loop is traditionally used in technical industries, the TEL curriculum team has found a cycle of short sprints and course correction to be responsive and innovative in learning design and development.


Feedback on course materials comes from a variety of sources. Existing courses will have feedback from internal TEL teams, data collected from students and external partners, and feedback from subject matter experts in our Advisory Review Committees. All feedback goes through a trend analysis. This helps us understand where patterns might exist across courses and subject areas and how we can improve student experiences.

New courses under development go through a multi-step review and creation process.

Curriculum Development Process

It doesn’t matter how much feedback you get if you don’t do anything with it. Using feedback is instrumental in the TEL process. Because of that, the curriculum development process is always evolving.

Here’s an overview of the current development process and how materials are reviewed as a new course is developed. Course materials are reviewed from five major perspectives: learning design, editorial/branding, functional (student perspective), subject matter expert, and production design.

  • Assessment Review: A check that each question aligns with the learning outcome and assesses at the proper Bloom’s level.
  • Component Review: A learning design check to ensure each of the elements of a lesson are present and clear for students.
  • Content Review: A review by another subject matter expert to check for the clarity and accuracy of the content in the course materials. They make sure questions are marked correctly, that the answer and question are accurate and can be answered by the materials in the course.
  • Curriculum Review + Image Attribution: A review of the lesson to make sure it is clear and the questions can be answered by the materials. Course materials are assigned images to support the content.
  • Copy edit: Materials go through an initial copy edit.
  • Editorial Review: Lessons go through a second copy edit and formatting check.
  • Production Review: A back-end check to review the formatting and accuracy of the course material when it is first built in the LMS.
  • Front-end Quality Assurance: A final review of the course material from the student’s perspective of the LMS.

Flowchart depicting TEL's course design process

Created by Brooke Heard, TEL Education

The Curriculum Development team is evaluating the TEL curriculum from both a learning design perspective and a product development perspective. We are always considering how to continue to improve the quality of the curriculum and students’ experiences. For more information about the evolution of TEL’s curriculum check out From One to 29: Scaling Our Learning Design [Timeline].

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