At this point I do not really care about the backend, but I do care about the frontend. Let's forget about frames (sounds like it would unnecessarily complicate things) and focus on content that is ON OTHER servers. What about a popup window with a genuine progress bar and a simple list of milestones (with links to extended information)?
Nice point about visual conventions Michael. Do you have anything that we could look at to get some ideas? Here are some UNFILTERED results WITH PICTURES from a quick search (could not find anything specific to education):