Examine Course Design Through the Eyes of a Learner

A well-designed course is more likely to engage learners and positively affect their performance. Using the QM Rubric and relevant review tools as a guide, you, your colleagues, or a team of QM-trained, experienced online instructors can evaluate the design of your online or blended course and ensure it meets QM Standards. When you’re ready to put a course through the review process, you’ll receive fresh ideas from colleagues who are interested in your course and can offer specific feedback in a positive tone that will help you to improve the quality of your course and create a more active learning experience for students.

Key Elements of Any Course Review

There are a few factors that will affect the structure of your course review process: the QM Rubric you select, the type of course you want to evaluate, and the type of review you want to conduct. For example, the members of a course review team will be different between a K-12 organization and an Higher Education (HE) organization. And an individual, Self-Review will not be structured the same as a collaborative review. While some subscriptions allow members to manage their own Official Course Reviews, publishers — and many other members — will work with QM to have courses officially reviewed. Regardless of the review, however, the following elements are always part of the process:

  1. Online or blended course to be reviewed: Access must be granted to those reviewing
  2. Rubric: One of the five QM Rubrics or a custom rubric created in My Custom Reviews (MyCR)
  3. Review System: Tools located in the QM Course Review Management System (CRMS) or MyCR
  4. Reviewer(s): Number and role depends on the type of review being conducted. Official Review Team consist of QM-Certified Reviewers, one of whom is a Master Reviewer serving as team chair
  5. Final report: An aggregation of reviewer findings 

QM Membership Allows Access to Many Course Review Types

As a new member, start by outlining your goals, becoming familiar with QM review tools and review types, and then plan your pathway to receive QM certification. You can begin by using the Self-Review tool — along with what you learn in our professional development workshops — to informally evaluate and improve the quality of your own online course. You can then use Internal Reviews to begin doing informal, collaborative reviews or move on to reviews that receive national recognition. This will help prepare your course for an Official Course Review and put it on the pathway to QM Certification. Inside MyQM you’ll find Course Review Worksheet examples and a video tutorial for the Self Review tool. Select the headings below to view a description of each review type.

  • Self Reviews

    The Self-Review tool is available for you to use individually with any membership type. Using the Self-Review tool, you can examine the different design components of an online course and begin to understand the best practices that create quality courses. This tool—along with the QM Rubric—enables you to start implementing QM Standards, which are supported by current research and recognized best practices, in order to improve the quality of a course.

    Fee: Included in membership

    Rubrics: K-12 Secondary, K-12 Publisher, HE, HE Publisher, CPE

  • Internal Reviews

    All individuals within a subscribing organization can use QM’s CRMS to conduct Internal Reviews. This is a great way for instructors and instructional designers to reflect on their course design and engage in a collaborative review process. The Course Review Worksheet provides the instructor an opportunity to share his/her perspective and background with the course. After conducting an Internal Review, the Final Report shows the collective strengths and weaknesses of the course, every reviewer’s personal feedback, and a review score that reflects the overall quality of the course. The reports become part of an organization's QM data, which can be utilized in data analysis and evidence for accreditation. When the Internal Review process adhere to QM guidelines, organization's can share their achievements with web pages and social media.

    Fee: Included in membership, except for K-12 Basic (available with license)

    Rubrics: K-12 Secondary, K-12 Publisher, HE, HE Publisher, CPE

  • Custom Reviews

    Instead of using one of the five QM Rubrics during a Self or Internal Review, you can take charge of your review process and create a custom rubric using MyCR in MyQM. This is ideal for members who love the power of the CRMS tool and want to select from QM Standards, use their own standards, or use a combination of both. Here are the scenarios in which you would conduct a custom review:

    1. You want to select a subset of QM Standards
    2. You have a Rubric that is part QM’s and part your own organization’s
    3. You want to review courses using your own custom rubric
    4. You want to modify the Course Review worksheet
    5. You want to use the CRMS to review courses using standards for other areas (technology integration, course delivery, etc.)


    Custom Reviews may also provide key evidence to assist in meeting institutional accreditation, since accreditation standards can be incorporated.

    Fee: Included in membership, except for K-12 Basic (available with license)

    Rubrics: K-12 Secondary, K-12 Publisher, HE, HE PublisherCPE

  • Preparatory Reviews

    Informal reviews are a great way to benchmark courses, see if improvements are on track and prepare for an Official Review. While not eligible for QM Certification, a preparatory review is chaired by a Master Reviewer who is also a subject matter expert. The review results in a report that provides insight on where to focus course improvements — specific areas not meeting QM Standards, for example — and can help highlight professional development needs. 

    New members, those who have used a QM Rubric to guide course improvement and those who have applied professional development to course design or improvement can all benefit from this informal review process. Just start the application process in the Course Review Management System (CRMS) and the Course Representative will receive an email from the Chair with the timeline.

    Contact us if you have questions or need assistance.

    Fee: $750/$350 for QM Members

    Rubrics: HEK-12 Secondary

  • QM-Managed Official Course Reviews

    Let QM handle all the paperwork and logistics of having a course reviewed. During an QM-Managed Official Course Review, both members and non-members can get outside validation — from an independent third party — of the quality work your organization is doing around online course design. You’ll also receive useful recommendations from the review team that will help you to improve the course. A course can become QM-Certified once it meets QM Rubric Standards at the 85% threshold or better and meets all essential standards. Organizations that want to be recognized for their quality assurance efforts can display and advertise the QM Certification Mark to demonstrate their commitment to quality and continuous improvement.

    If your course does not initially meet QM Rubric Standards, you will be able to submit an amended course with the reviewer-suggested updates during the amendment phase. The reports become part of an organization's QM data, which can be utilized in data analysis and evidence for accreditation.

    Contact us if you'd like QM to review your course(s).

    Fee: Depends on Rubric selected and Membership status — see fees

    Rubrics: K-12 Secondary, K-12 Publisher, HE, HE PublisherCPE

  • Higher Ed. Subscriber-Managed Official Course Reviews

    Organizations with a Higher Education Full or System Subscription can choose to manage and conduct their own Official Course Reviews. In this case, your organization would handle all the paperwork, logistics, and reviewer payments. During an official Subscriber-Managed Course Review, you have access to the same QM tools—the CRMS—as those used in official QM-Managed Reviews, plus additional resources. QM’s role is to provide supporting resources and to recognize courses that meet Standards in an official QM Course Review. QM staff review the process and verify the awarding of the QM Certification Mark for courses that meet or exceed quality expectations.

    Reviews may also provide key evidence to assist in meeting institutional accreditation

    Fee: $100 per course review*

    Rubrics: HE

    *No fee if managed by a Certified Course Review Manager

  • K-12 Subscriber-Managed Official Course Reviews

    Organizations with a K-12 Basic or Consortium Subscription can purchase the K-12 Subscriber-Managed Review license to manage and conduct their own Official Course Reviews. During an official Subscriber-Managed Course Review, you have access to the same QM tools—the CRMS*—as those used in official QM-Managed Reviews. Your team will need a QM-Certified Course Review Manager. QM staff provide supporting resources, review the process and verify the awarding of the QM Certification Mark for courses that meet or exceed course design standards.  K-12 Subscriber-Managed reviews are a more cost effective option for organizations seeking QM Certification for a large number of courses.

    Fee: $3000/year

    Includes: One seat in the Course Review Manager Course and unlimited number of reviews

    Rubrics: K-12 Secondary

    *Requires supplemental license for K-12 Basic Members

  • Additional Course Review Options
    • QM-Managed Template Review: Appropriate for HE and K-12 Publishers, and K-12 Secondary Rubric users who use a template as the basis for courses across three or more disciplines. Can lead to QM Certification when combined with a Content Review of individual courses.
    • QM-Managed Template + Content Review: Appropriate for HE and K-12 Publishers, and K-12 Secondary Rubric users looking for a cost effective way to review five or more courses based on a template. Reviews occur in two phases and may lead to QM Certification.
    • Alternate Version Review: Appropriate for Certified HE courses, K-12 Secondary and K-12 Publisher courses to be offered in an alternate format or iteration. Examples: alternate course levels (honors, graduate); online to blended format; alternate course length.
    • Correlation Verification: Appropriate for K-12 Publisher and HE. Have your standards correlation document verified by the Master Reviewer/Chair of your official review. This service can be added to any official review.
    • QM-Managed Recertification: If no substantial changes have been made to a course, it can be re-certified once the certification period has elapsed (typically 3-5 years)


    Contact a QM Course Review team member for more information on any of these review options or to discuss a tailored solution. See fees for these course review options.

Course Review FAQs

Course Review Resources