The Certificate is Obsolete: New Ways to Track PD, CE, and Certification


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We’re now in the third month of my webinar series, Managing eLearning: Thought Leaders. This month’s thought leader is none other than Andy Hicken, Director of Product Development at Web Courseworks and frequent contributor to this blog. Andy will be presenting about one (particularly vexing) problem: traditional PDF certificates. Yes, they’re a problem.

To set the stage for this discussion, Andy likes to use an analogy about money. As everyone knows, physical money (cash) represents currency (US dollars) that can be exchanged for goods and services. Well, something similar happens in continuing education: a certificate represents a certain number of credits that can be exchanged for a professional certification or recertification.

One problem with physical money is that it can be hard to keep track of and transport from one place to another. Fortunately, most of the money in the world today is represented not by bits of metal and paper, but by bits in computers. Most transferring of money happens automatically, behind the scenes, without a lot of human intervention.

Certification, on the other hand, is still awaiting its digital revolution. The maintenance of certification of thousands of professionals nationwide is a daunting administrative challenge, for professional societies, certifying boards, and the professionals themselves. Every time recertification season rolls around, professionals must round up all the certificates they earned and present them to their certifying board, whether by mailing copies or re-entering the information into online forms. For its part, the board must keep detailed and up-to-date records for each individual, whether in Excel or an online database.

Andy and others envision a system that more closely resembles the modern digital economy, with continuing education credits flowing from educational institution to professional to certifying board, behind the scenes, with minimal human intervention. “Doctors want to help patients, not track credits,” Andy said, speaking about the medical profession. “The burden of tracking credits should be on the education providers and boards, not the doctors.”

In his talk, Andy will discuss how new technologies such as digital badging and Experience API could be used to shift the burden and ultimately make professional certification and recertification easier for everyone involved. To learn more, be sure to attend his webinar The Certificate is Obsolete: New Ways to Track PD, CE, and Certification on Tuesday, April 26th at 10 am PT / 1 pm ET. Claim your seat now.

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