Golden Paw Certification

Previous Golden Paw Recipients

Online Course Best Practices Initiative

In collaboration with UNM Online, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and the UNM Online Course Advisory Council (OCAC) has established the Golden Paw certification to support the development and implementation of online best practices for teaching and learning. We have reviewed 134 courses since 2015.

The Golden Paw certification is based on the Online Course Standards Rubric ( Word Version), a document guided by ideas from the Provost’s UNM Faculty Online Standards Task Force (2005 – 2009). The OCAC built on this foundation to develop the rubric that was approved by UNM Faculty Senate Teaching Enhancement Committee in December 2013, and recently revised for clarity in 2019. The Rubric provides a framework for online course design based on the University of New Mexico’s online course standards, evidence-based practices for teaching and learning, federal compliance for online courses, and national standards for quality online course delivery ( Practices for Verification of Student Identity).

The Golden Paw certification recognizes instructors whose courses have surpassed the highest standards of the Online Course Standards Rubric. Each Fall and Spring semester the Digital Learning @ CTL will put out a call for applications inviting eligible instructors to nominate their course for a Golden Paw review. Please see below for eligibility criteria, certification benefits, and a timeline of the review process.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. All UNM Main Campus instructors are eligible.
  2. Course must have been taught by the instructor a minimum of two times online through UNM Main Campus.
  3. Course will be taught online for three subsequent semesters after being certified (these do not have to be sequential semesters). The application will require your department chair’s confirmation of the course's future offerings.

Selection Criteria

  1. Instructors who have received the Golden Paw certification previously may apply with another course, but new applications will be given priority.
  2. General Education courses and/or courses that are part of an online degree or degree completion program will be given priority.

Certification Benefits

  1. Instructional designer support with redesign and review preparation.
  2. If certified, the instructor will receive a $2000 stipend.


Applications for Spring 2024 will be available in November 6, 2023, and applications are due by November 27, 2023.

Past OCAC Recipients

For a list of previous certifications, view OCAC Certificate Recipients.

  1. Start

    We will get you an OCAC Temp Course to work in and add your designer.

  2. Meet Standards

    Work with your designer to ensure that your course meets the Online Course Standards Rubric and completee the Course Self-Review.

  3. Submittal

    Submit your Self-Review, the course information form, and your map to Rob Wolf. Your designer will review these with you and can provide models. Your materials will be due four business days prior to your schedule review.

  4. Review

    Your review will be scheduled with a panel of three faculty colleagues. We'll send you a Doodle poll the week beforehand so you can identify times that you are available for the review.

  5. Notification

    You will receive notification that your course has either passed review or needs additional changes.

  6. Submit Changes

    Submit any additional changes and submit for re-review.

  7. Certification

    Once your course meets UNM Best Practice Certification:

    The course will receive a UNM Best Practice Golden PAW Seal of Approval to place in the course and note on the UNM Online Course Website.

    You will receive a $2,000 stipend and a certification letter.