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By Toni DiMella

There are about 2300 courses that have been certified by QM using the Higher Education rubric. Only 9 of these courses are taught in South Carolina, and all of those are at Clemson University. If QM is so widely recognized for online and hybrid course quality assurance, why are there so few courses certified? Is it that hard to get certified? Well, yes and no.

First, the certification process is not free. Institutions must be QM members, have trained staff to manage the review process, and pay a fee (about $1000) for each course that is being reviewed. So not just anyone can opt-in to the review process, and training staff takes time. Second, and more importantly, many people go into the review process unprepared. At best, this extends the time involved in the certification process. At worst, it can result in a waste of time and money if a course does not pass its review.

In the past year, I have served on several review committees, primarily in the subject matter expert role. The full review team includes a master reviewer and two peer reviewers. In my experience, many courses have done adequate prep work to ensure they can pass the review process—or, at least, to only have minor revisions to gain certification. As all courses are submitted by institutions with full access to the annotated rubric in the myQM portal, the QM coordinator and course representative should not be surprised by the review team’s findings. The annotated rubric, which is the same one used by the review team, is very detailed in both how to meet the standards and what each member of the review team should be looking for in the course as evidence that standards are met.

So, if you want to expedite the review process and gain that coveted QM certification, do your homework!

1. Create your account at MyQM using your USC Upstate email address. Everything you could ever want or need to know about QM can be found there, including free QM Success Stories Webinars.

2. Once you log in make sure the Higher Education is highlighted at the top of the page and then click on MyCR, which stands for My Course Reviews.

higher education is highlighted and there is an arrow pointing at the 6 icon labeled MyCR
screenshot of the top of the MyQM portal after logging in

3. Extend the My Custom Reviews menu on the left and click on Self-Reviews

4. To start a self-review, click on the Complete a New Custom Self-Review link. On the next page, from the Select a Custom Rubric dropbox select the “USC Upstate Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric for Internal Review”. Give your review a title you will remember in the second box (When you return later to finish or look at the review, you will see it listed in a table lower on the page)

5. Click Begin Self-Review. The self-review tool will open in the window on the same page. You can type your findings and notes in the boxes and review the information about the standards in the annotations area.

6. Review each standard’s annotation. To “pass” a review and earn the certification you must both earn a MET marking on all 3-point standards and have a minimum total review score of 85. Regardless of the outcome, the review team will provide a report of all 3 team members’ scores, evidence of findings, and suggestions for improvement (even for met standards). If you meet both requirements, you’re done! If you did not meet both, you have two (free!) 14- week amendment periods to make updates and corrections and resubmit the course to your team’s Master Reviewer for additional reviews of not met standards.

See the Self-Review process in action!

The review tool that opens up is the EXACT same rubric tool your review team will use to assess your course. There are no secret standards; there are no gotchas. The process is completely transparent. You just have to look. 😊

It doesn’t matter if you gain certification on the first review of the course or the third. All certified courses get the same certification and are of the same high quality. How long it takes you to earn certification depends on how much time you spend getting your course ready for the review team. Luckily, at Upstate you also have a team of QM-certified reviewers willing and able to help you with that process! In addition to the CAIFS team, we have 12 faculty members certified as peer reviewers. Put us and the MyCR tool to good use and earn that certification in the first round! Make an appointment using the Bookings app to get started!