Skilljar’s monthly Coffee Chats, hosted by Skilljar’s Customer Training Designer, Cutler Bleecker, showcase different ways customers are using our platform, including demos with special guests. This month’s Customer Education Coffee Chat featured a conversation with Susan Manning, Ed.D, Director of Customer Education at Credly.
Credly is the end-to-end solution for creating, issuing and managing digital credentials. So who better than Susan to help us standardize how we define certification, credentials, badges, and certificates–and how and when it makes sense to use them?
Words Matter: To Certify, Credentialize, or Badge?
Susan offered the following descriptions to help attendees understand the distinctions between common training industry terms, such as:
Credential – A record of achievement, such as an academic degree, with explicit criteria that is third-party validated. This can also be in the form of a digital credential for an online course completion or to recognize a particular level of experience within your organization.
Certification – An assessment of a level of education achieved, often held to rigorous standards. For online education, this could be for a course or series of courses completed.
There is a categorization applied to certifications: high stakes vs. low stakes. High-stakes generally means the education process and assessment are separate, and the result is of significant consequence for an individual. In other words, passing comes with important benefits while failing comes with substantial disadvantages. Examples include a professional certification, such as a Cisco certification for IT or Series 7 certification in the securities industry, or licensing (such as passing the bar exam).
Low-stakes assessments are more limited and less preparation is generally required. Certifications offered by Skilljar customers (such as Credly) for product knowledge are generally low-stakes.
Certificate – A document (paper or digital) that acknowledges a user has received a formal certification for a level of education achieved (or online courses completed)
Skilljar makes it easy for learners to showcase the certificates they earn for completing courses to increase product knowledge on their LinkedIn profiles.
I think of certification as something that’s industry-recognized, as is common in the tech world, where certificates recognize bundles of learning experiences. Course recognition is a no-brainer when it comes to customer education.
— Susan Manning, Ed.D, Director of Customer Education at Credly
Badge – An image containing underlying descriptive information (“metadata”) that represents the credential. The metadata contains the contextual information such as the course description, skills, and earning criteria, and is embedded into the digital asset, also known as a digital credential. Most people, when they talk about a badge are referring to the visual component, but it’s the metadata that actually makes a badge verified, i.e., not self-reported or created by the user.
An integration between Skilljar and Credly allows training professionals to automatically grant and manage Credly credentials following the successful completion of coursework or exams in Skilljar. Companies can issue Credly badges to their learners through the Skilljar dashboard.
How Can Your Company Use Digital Credentials?
Susan explained how companies use credentials in their Customer Education programs across a spectrum of learning to:
- Reward participation in company projects, volunteer efforts, etc.
- Increase soft skills or product knowledge
- Recognize and encourage learning (Credentials are portable, i.e., users maintain them throughout their careers.)
- Certify mastery/competence (These are industry-recognized credentials with a much higher degree of assessment.)
Additionally, companies take advantage of the ease and cost-efficiencies of digital badging to:
- Engage their audience and instill a sense of pride (Find certified users who have put their credentials to good use and tell those users’ stories.)
- Increase credibility through verification (Your brand is behind the credential.)
- Encourage brand awareness and promotion through social sharing of badges
- Build customer loyalty (As users mark their progress with credentials, they feel good about going on to the next level and tracking their progress with your product.)
Why Credentials? Why Now?
Susan explained two major trends currently driving an increased interest in and use of credentials:
Skills-based talent management
Seventy-five percent of companies are struggling to fill vacancies, and as a result, are moving toward skills-based talent management. An academic degree may no longer be the proxy of what a candidate can do. There are other ways for candidates to demonstrate they have skills and when they present digital credentials, recruiters understand they have the skills necessary for a particular job.
The Great Resignation/Reshuffling
Many people chose to leave the workforce during the pandemic, resulting in a “Great Resignation”. Of those who are returning, a “Great Reshuffling” is evident, meaning, they are coming back into the market but changing their jobs as they seek better opportunities or a career change. Digital credentials come into play to show recruiters they can do the job, even if it isn’t the same job they had previously.
Customer Education at Credly
Susan’s role at Credly is to package together onboarding experiences that help customers get started with their product. Through Credly Academy, powered by Skilljar, customers can choose packages from a self-guided experience to a more extensive subscription with different levels of support for their education content. Credly also has their own Credentialing Education Program which teaches users how to set up a credential system, regardless of whether they’re issuing digital credentials.
If you’re just starting out with credentialization or want to uplevel your program, visit:
- Credly’s Resource Center for the latest information on digital credentials to read, watch, or share
- Skilljar’s eBook, “Badges, Certificates, and Certifications: A Comprehensive Guide to Credentialing“
- Skilljar’s webinar, “Getting Started With Certification,” featuring Carol Dibert, Manager, Certification at Zendesk
Skilljar customers often learn a lot from seeing other people’s programs and hearing what their goals and objectives are–and then use that information to reflect on and improve their own programs. Find out how it works: join our next coffee chat or share these recaps with your teams!
If you are a Skilljar customer and would like to share what you’re working on in one of our monthly coffee chats, please email email@example.com.