Seven years after Opportunity Education began, the program had already reached 10 countries and 1,074 schools, providing 665,880 students with better learning opportunities by the end of 2012. At this time, Mr. Ricketts proposed extending our reach to secondary schools and incorporating technology to achieve educational goals worldwide. This vision led to the Tablet Program in 10 secondary schools in Tanzania, where the tablets were loaded with pre-existing curricula and materials created in the US. For two years, data was collected from these students that revealed a valuable insight: in order to make the curriculum relevant and engaging for students in Tanzania, it needed to be designed locally by Tanzanians with similar life experiences so that it could meet the distinct needs of schools there.
We now understand and strongly believe that curricula should be developed locally in order to maintain cultural and contextual authenticity. That is why we have a US-based curriculum design team for the quests used in the United States, and a team of quest designers in Tanzania that develop the material used in schools there. As we continue to expand globally, we will adhere to this model so that each country’s quests are culturally appropriate—making the content relevant to students’ real life experiences. In the US, we also have academic partnerships with groups (such as Launch Academy and Bellevue University) that support the implementation and design of their own quests.
Each of these teams of curriculum and quest designers is considered its own organization—in the US, the Learning Design Team creates quests for the Opportunity Education organization, including all the quests used at the independent Quest Forward Academies. In Tanzania, the quest designers, mentors, and students all form part of the Opportunity Education Foundation Tanzania organization.
The process by which a quest is designed, reviewed, and published involves both the individual organization (ie. Opportunity Education; OEF Tanzania) and the Quest Forward Platform team.
There are five stages in the life of a quest during the design and review cycle:
- Peer Feedback
- Internal Review
- Quality Review
Design, peer feedback, and Internal Review are all done by each design organization, while Quality Review and publication is performed by the Quality Review team (part of the Platform team).
1. Quest Design
Quest design is determined first and foremost by each organization’s curriculum needs. In the US, the Learning Design team creates a unique, skills-based curriculum for high school and determines which of their quest designers will develop related quests. For each subject area, there is a lead curriculum designer who develops the curriculum, coordinates a team of quest designers, manages quest design and production, and conducts Internal Reviews.
In Tanzania, 49 quest designers develop quests according to the national curriculum standards that incorporate their own skills frameworks, and then a team of 3-10 internal reviewers coordinates the quest designers, manages quest design and production, and conducts Internal Reviews.
Following quest design, quests undergo several rounds of feedback, edits, and revision. Multiple rounds of review and iterations allow for quests to be polished and improved, so that they are strong learning experiences in alignment with the Quest Forward vision and mission.
2. Peer Feedback
A key feature of quest design is peer feedback. Peer feedback allows designers to work together, share ideas, learn from each other, and become stronger designers. Peers can offer insight to improve quests before they are formally reviewed, ensuring the material is relevant and engaging to students, while effectively encompassing the academic content. At any point in the creation of a quest, a quest designer can request feedback from their fellow designers or other peers within their organization.
3. Internal Review
Once a quest designer has completed their quest, they assign it to an internal reviewer within their organization. Internal Review is composed of three parts:
- Experience: Does the quest incorporate the Quest Forward methodology in a meaningful way?
- Subject: Is the material accurate and correct? Does it meet curricular standards and achieve stated or related learning objectives?
- Copy: Are there grammar, syntax, punctuation, spelling, or style errors?
Depending on the organization, each of these reviews may be done by a different person. Internal reviewers can either mark the review as complete and assign it to the next reviewer, or return it to the quest designer for edits.
4. Quality Review
After a quest has passed all three stages of Internal Review, it is submitted for Quality Review. At this point, the Quality Review team reviews the quest according to the Quality Review Guidelines and either publishes it or returns it to the quest designer for further edits. The Quality Review Guidelines include evaluating if a quest makes use of the Quest Forward Principles in an intentional, appropriate, and organic way, if a quest meaningfully addresses the goals and topics it claims to cover, and whether the material in the quest and its resources are appropriate and do not contain objectionable content.
If a quest fulfills all the requirements of Internal and Quality Review, it is published. A published quest can be built into a course framework that is then accessible to students and mentors using the Quest! app. Quest designers may choose to edit their quests at any point, even after publication. Editing a published quest will create a draft copy, leaving the published version intact and available until the new version has been passed through all reviews and is published, replacing the old version. This enables the curriculum to be readily updated and stay relevant to academic requirements and students’ experiences.
From conception to publication, a quest’s lifecycle is intentionally focused on review, feedback, and revision. The inclusion of peer and Internal Review allows members within an organization to ensure quests are culturally and contextually relevant, while accurately covering the necessary material and upholding the Quest Forward Methodology. The final Quality Review, executed by the Quality Review team, ensures that high-quality quests are published and put in front of learners everywhere.