Course Design for College Credit Courses

The Micro-Collegiate Academy is powered by TEL Education, a non-profit organization focused on creating equitable and affordable access to college courses. We take great pride in developing courses that prepare students for college-level learning while also helping them develop mastery over the topics in the course.

Our Content Design Process:

Develop the Course Outline

We have designed our course materials to work with as many institutional needs as possible. This is reflected in our course development process. Our Curriculum Development team, working in partnership with qualified Subject Matter Experts, begins this process by reviewing representative syllabi from two and four-year institutions, as well as leading textbooks. This initial step culminates in the development of a course outline that features the 60-70 core concepts that are taught at most institutions. We specify key topics for each concept, as well as a measurable learning outcome.

Identify Key Topics

After identifying the key concepts and topics to be covered in a course, the Curriculum Team and subject matter experts establish the skills and competencies that students should work on mastering. These are selected from TEL Education’s framework of key 21st-century skills and competencies—TEL Mastery Standards. Targeted skills and competencies, along with learning outcomes, are used to guide the design of the mastery assignments included in each course.

Create Lessons

In the final course outline, each of the 60-70 key concepts becomes a lesson. For each lesson, our subject matter experts curate and create content within a templated format that reinforces TEL’s learning progression model.

Our Learning Progression Model

At TEL Education, we use a common learning-progression model in each of our lessons. Our goal in doing this is to reinforce and scaffold the learning process to ensure that our lessons function as stand-alone learning components that don’t lose any of their core learning integrity when re-sequenced or customized.


Without a basic framework in which to place lesson information, learners are slow to absorb or understand the content. That’s why our goal in this stage is to establish a context for lesson concepts before we begin transmitting them with full detail. We also refer to this as the first part of the “Why” question. In the contextualization stage, the question we want to help students answer is – “Why is this information important in the world?”


Once we create a clear context for the lesson information, we’re ready to share it fully with learners and elaborate our explanations with multiple forms of examples. Our goal in this stage is to answer the “What” question. “What are the specific concepts students need to understand so they can begin applying them?” It is important at this stage to provide a broad range of perspectives, both from expert sources as well as via community conversation.


Our next goal is to transition learners from a basic understanding of lesson concepts to a sense of personal relevance. This stage is about helping students find motivation for internalizing and applying the information in a way that will lead to actual mastery. In this stage, we want to help students explore both deeper and broader implications of lesson concepts. This is the second part of the “Why” question – “Why does this information matter to me personally?”


At this point in the lesson, we want learners to take personal ownership of lesson concepts and to begin applying the information in ways that are relevant to them. This stage is all about the specific, contextual application that is the beginning of concept mastery. With agency, then, we move from questions of “Why” and “What” to “How.”