How The Jackson Laboratory Uses Badges and Certificates to Drive Global Awareness [Webinar Recap Pt. 3]

How The Jackson Laboratory Uses Badges and Certificates to Drive Global Awareness [Webinar Recap Pt. 3]

Jami Kelmenson
November 15, 2023
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In our recent webinar, Skilljar’s Sr. Solutions Engineer, Tyler Larson, hosted a conversation with Marianne Goossens, Associate Director, Online and Digital Education, and Adam McLean, Instructional Designer, for The Jackson Laboratory, on how they use Skilljar integrations to uplevel the training program at their organization.

Marianne and Adam are part of a small but mighty team that works to expand awareness of The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), a nonprofit, biomedical, genetic and genomic research institute, globally.

We switched to Skilljar mainly because of the Salesforce integration and the language packs. We had expanded our market into China and needed an LMS that would accommodate global needs. ––Marianne Goossens

So grab your coffee and read the recap of how JAX uses integrations for monetization, CRM, certification & badging, and lead generation to optimize and uplevel their Customer Education programs!

Monetization at JAX

The Jackson Laboratories offers online MiniCourses for customer education, powered by Skilljar

JAX offers both 15-minute MicroLessons and 1-2 hour MiniCourses as part of their online education program. Their goal is to make the JAX genomic education ecosystem more scalable, visible, and sustainable for their global audience while expanding awareness of their programming, services, and faculty research.

They built their program from scratch, trying different monetization approaches and price points, and then evaluated the data for top-of-funnel content. Their courses offered through Skilljar are open-access and free. Anyone can sign up and after the successful completion of a course, the learner has the option to purchase a digital badge and course completion certificate through Skilljar.

The Jackson Laboratories offers digital badges for customer education, powered by a Skilljar integration with Credly

Issuing digital badges aligns well with JAX’s program goal and audience of 50% students (mostly graduate-level) and 50% working professionals (including early career scientists and researchers).

How Jax integrates with Credly to offer digital badges and certificates

The Jackson Laboratory offers certificates for customer training, powered by Skilljar

To promote visibility and awareness for their online educational program, JAX integrates with Credly to offer digital badge credentials in tandem with the certificates offered natively through Skilljar. The credential is issued automatically in Skilljar when somebody has paid for the certificate and a badge after completing a course. The learner can then add the badge or certificate to their LinkedIn profile with the click of a button.

The process was easy. We signed with Credly, worked with our Skilljar Implementation Manager to set up the integration, and then designed the badges in our company’s branding. Within Skilljar, there are skill tags associated with each badge, which connect to job posting data that learners can share via social media and email.–Marianne Goossens

Each MiniCourse has a quiz at the end. Learners must score at least 70% for the course to be marked as complete. There’s no certificate that’s associated with that course itself, rather, the team created an additional course shell for every MiniCourse that is behind a paywall. The course shell has the MiniCourse as a prerequisite and houses access to the digital badges and course completion certificates.

The Jackson Laboratories offers digital badges and certificates through their Customer Education platform, powered by Skilljar.

There’s a message above the icon for the digital badge or certificate indicating the prerequisite course needed to purchase the credential.

Each badge level represents completing three or more MiniCourses to total 3, 6, 9, and 12 MiniCourses per increasing badge level. They’ve incentivized users to take more courses by offering tiered badges (bronze, silver, gold, platinum) for every three MiniCourses that learners pass and purchase the credential for.

The Jackson Laboratories uses a tiered badging system for customer education based on the number of courses taken,

Each badge level represents completing three or more MiniCourses to total 3, 6, 9, and 12 MiniCourses per increasing badge level.

This system has been especially popular with internal learners at JAX. They worked with their Marketing team to develop a badge leaderboard to foster some friendly internal competition.

We saw that MiniCourse badges issued to JAX employees rose from 20 to 110 in one month, as a result of our tiered badge and leaderboard strategy. It really surpassed our expectations.–Adam McLean

JAX originally offered their courses for free so making the switch to purchasing digital badges from the certificates took some strategizing. Marianne explained how they did some additional marketing, such as this infographic below, around the badges to explain their value, which proved very successful.

Infographic created by The Jackson Laboratories showing the value of digital badge credentials

Infographic created by JAX showing the value of digital badge credentials

Sometimes you can try new things and it’s okay not to really know what to expect because you can always take additional steps to improve your process later.–Marianne Goossens

How The Jackson Laboratory integrates with Skilljar and Google Analytics to view training metrics

JAX has some specific metrics that they look at by course type and audience. They use Skilljar data in tandem with Google Analytics in a customized data dashboard in Google Looker Studio (formerly known as Google Data Studio).

Dashboards created by The Jackson Laboratories for viewing training data using Skilljar and Google Analytics

JAX created this dashboard, tailored to their business goals using an integration with Skilljar, Google Sheets, and Google Looker Studio.

Having this customized dashboard has empowered us as a team to make data-driven marketing and instructional design decisions that have positively impacted our program.–Adam McLean

The most powerful feature of the dashboard in Looker Studio is its ability to segment, cross filter, and drill down on data based on groups of users, courses or locations. The tool has been very handy for interfacing with business colleagues, marketing specialists, and other stakeholders. It makes it easy and quick to answer questions around enrollment trends and profiles of users taking certain courses.

Other groups within the JAX have taken a great interest in the dashboard and have requested consultations with the Online & Digital Education team about how they might adopt a similar system. A major plus is that the dashboard was built completely using free tools that were available.

The data comes from CSV downloads in Skilljar and is brought into Google Sheets, which connects with Looker Studio. We make it all work by leveraging Skilljar’s tag feature to help us categorize the enrollment data the way we need it.–Adam McLean

Tyler added that if you go to the /Salesforce page in your Skilljar dashboard, you can download raw logs of all your Skilljar into a CSV format with a single click of a button. You don’t need to keep track of the data in real-time, once a month or quarter should be fine. You just export the data manually and can begin to validate the assumptions you might have about your data initially. As you grow, you can look into additional resources to help automate the process.

How JAX Integrates with Salesforce for lead generation

JAX’s online MiniCourses and MicroLessons are short, approachable foundational topics that align with both the research and the business sides of their organization. In this sense, they provide lead generation for the entire company. Using the Salesforce integration, their Marketing team uses data fields for top-of-funnel lead generation campaigns to draw people into the JAX ecosystem based on their interests and behavior.

Tyler added that the most common way customers customize the linking logic of our Skilljar/Salesforce integration (and other marketing automation tools) is if there’s no contact match, to convert them into a lead that triggers a variety of actions or just create a list or people for your sales reps to reach out to.

Panel Q&A:

Q: I’m working on a certification program now. How did you determine which segment to start with?
A: (Adam) Our program is more course-completion based. Everyone who takes a course gets a certificate as long as they pass the quiz. We offered the option to certify or earn a badge to everyone, but in designing the course materials and explaining the value, we targeted an audience of early career scientists and trainees. So, while the courses are available to everyone, a lot of the promotional materials target a specific audience.
A: (Tyler) With Skilljar, we wanted to validate our assumptions. I can assume that an account with a certified product expert will probably submit less support tickets, but how do I validate that? Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. Try one segment and see how it goes. And then optimize and iterate based on the data you collect. That’s the way I like to think about any initiative in the Customer Education space.

Q: Are you required to have a third-party board to overview the certification program?
A: (Adam) In our case, assuring the quality and value of the certifications is part of our internal course development process. We do have colleagues in a different group in our department who offer certifications to a clinical audience and they go through a process to have those reviewed externally.

Q: Have you noticed any kind of cross-platform or cross-department impact with any of these like integration initiatives?
A: (Adam) Absolutely, the digital badges have really broken out across platforms and departments. Our internal users receive digital badges for free as a benefit of being an internal employee and we see them posting them on social media. We see that as a win-win, because the folks who are posting are using the strong reputation of The Jackson Laboratory in the scientific community to enhance their careers. At the same time, putting our name out there into their networks also benefits us as an organization by promoting visibility for the organization. We’ve also had cases before where folks who have taken MiniCourses later came to be employed at JAX.

It’s always interesting to see that cross-departmentally, people have seen the success of our digital badges. We’ve had other programs within our department come and ask us for support in setting up badging for them as well. Regarding CRM, there has been a very strong interest in some of the insights offered in the data dashboard and the speed with which you can glean those insights. So there’s definitely been a cross-department interest in that tool.

See more resources from Skilljar on how integrations can optimize and uplevel your Customer Education program:


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