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How Digital Credentials Can Help Associations Stand Out & Attract New Members

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Susan Manning:

Hi everyone. I'm so excited that you're here. I'm going to guess that you all like learning new things. You're going to learn some new things today. I just learned that I can look at the chat and you won't know that I'm looking at the chat, which is great because it's my screen that's being shared. So who knew?

I'm Susan from Credly, I'll be moderating today. You're in for a really special treat. We have a very large number of people enrolled for this, so I want to make sure that we allow time for those to log in and get comfortable and hear some audio so I'm not starting at the top of the hour. But we will go for a full hour and you will feel like the time was really well spent because of the quality of our presenters today. And chances are if you're here, you have a vested interest in professional associations and you want to learn on that angle as well.

We are so excited to present this webinar that's focused on how digital credentials can help associations stand out. And you are going to hear from the experts in this area two very different strategies in terms of using digital credentials, which will give you really depth and breadth. I do want to let you know that this is being recorded. You were alerted when you came in. So those who were unable to attend today's event live, they'll be receiving an email, as will you if you're here right now, with a link to watch the recording after the fact. And we hope that you will engage with the speakers by way of the chat and also the Q&A box.

So with that, let me tell you about today's panel. This is so exciting. Carrie Adler is here from ICF. That's International Coaching Federation. If you need a coach for anything, you want to make sure that they're credentialed and Carrie is going to tell about her experience with that. And then we have Veronica Diaz, who is from EDUCAUSE. EDUCAUSE is a professional association in higher education in the tech space, not just information technology, but technology as it relates to teaching and learning. A formidable organization. They have a different focus on digital credentialing also.

So it's going to be great to hear these two different stories as we go through this topic. Right now, what I'd like to know, and you can do this in chat, tell us what your great challenge is right now as an association. There must be a challenge or an opportunity. What are you focused on? Go ahead and let us know. And really I'm just capturing that so that later we can see if there's additional content that we need to address. But this is a needs analysis for me. So when we think about professional associations and the challenges, there are some universals. One is to make sure that you are telling your members why they should join your organization, that you have the infrastructure in place to manage all of that, whether it's membership or learning or testing.

Sometimes the leadership in an association will move on or change. What do you do when that happens? How do you continue forward movement for your membership so there's no disruption of service when the leadership is dramatically different? And then there are younger members who are coming in who are bringing a different perspective and sometimes different expectations for associations. And so these are sort of the universal challenges. What can you do about that? Can you make sure that your technology is ready to scale, that you are connecting with your membership by way of social media or other avenues for outreach? Are you adding new services? Are you constantly communicating the value of membership? So lots of ideas that I'm sure that both carry and Veronica are going to explore as we go on.

So you are going to see, they're going to talk about their program, you're going to hear how they're using credentials. I think right now what I'd like to know, and this is just a thumbs up, thumbs down, quick poll that my colleague is going to pull in here, they'd like to know if your association is offering certifications or recognition of any type. It does not have to be digital credential. But are you offering these options to your members right now? Yes, you do. No, you don't. Or you're working on it. So take a minute and answer that please.

I'm seeing great comments in the chat too. Thank you very much. Okay. So 61% of you are already offering something and whether it's a digital credential or not, you are going to have the opportunity to hear how two organizations are using digital credentials. And there are many ways that you could use those credentials. You could have them mark compliance if your profession requires certain certifications or ongoing CEUs or something like that. Certainly you can use it to recognize learning. You can keep people engaged with credentials. Over time, you can track growth and development of your membership and you could certainly use credentials for awards for those distinguished members or leaders in your field. We're going to come back to this idea later on, but I just wanted to show you there's many, many ways that you could use a credential. Okay. And so Carrie, Carrie is from the International Coaching Federation. I am pleased to introduce her. And Carrie, I'm going to let you take it away.

Carrie Abner:

Wonderful. Thank you so much, Susan. And it's so great to be here with this great panel and with everyone who's tuned in today. So thank you so much for joining us. I'm super excited to be part of this conversation. And as Susan mentioned, my name is Carrie Abner and I'm from the International Coaching Federation, and in particular ICF Credentials and Standards.

So a little bit about ICF. We are the leading global organization for coaches and for coaching. And we're actually a group of about seven independently governed organizations. So each organization provides a unique program or service to support the coaching profession. That includes individual membership, organizational membership, educational accreditation, thought leadership, a foundation. And I am so pleased to be here with you as a representative of ICF Credentials and Standards, which is our professional voluntary certification program. We provide certification for individual coach practitioners. And I'm so thrilled to hear that Thomas, who is one of our credential holders, is here on the call today as well. So thank you.

So a little bit about the global coaching industry that helps provide some important context for what I'm going to present today and particularly why we developed our digital badging program, our digital credentialing program in the way that we did. It's a relatively new profession. The ICF is about 25 years old, a little over 25 years old. And the coaching profession is a relatively young profession as well. According to the 2020 global coaching study, there are about 71,000 coach practitioners worldwide. And in addition to those 71,000 coach practitioners, there's also about 16,000 managers or leaders who use coaching skills.

And most often those are individuals who may be within a human resources department of an organization or someone who is leading a department or a program within an organizational setting. Now, coaches perform in so many different specialized disciplines, everywhere from life coaching to wellness coaching. But about 65% of coach practitioners identify themselves as someone who's working within business coaching.

And this can be leadership coaching, it can be executive coaching, it can be organizational coaching, team coaching, et cetera. So it still offers a wide range of different coaching services, but within the business or organizational kind of field in particular. This is really important, the vast majority of coach practitioners work as external coaches, 77% according to the most recent global coaching study that was published in 2020. That means that most coach practitioners operate on a contractual basis with either an individual client or an organization. An additional 17% of respondents to this global coaching study indicated that they may work as an internal coach, so they may be hired on as a staff member of an organization or company that also provide external coaching services as well, again on a contractual basis. The vast majority of coach practitioners work as solo-preneurs. So they may work as an individual practitioner, but they may also work with a coaching services firm or agency as well.

And the final point on this slide that's really important is like many professions, coaching is not generally a centrally regulated profession. That means that there are no legal requirements for education or experience or anything like that for an individual coach practitioner to call themselves a coach. And that's really where professional bodies like the ICF come into play and the professional voluntary certification services that we offer.

This is also why one of the primary obstacles or challenges that coach practitioners have identified for the coaching profession, includes untrained individuals who call themselves a coach who don't have extensive training, education, experience, and are in the marketplace practicing as a coach. So this came across in the most recent global coaching study that was published in 2020, but has been an ongoing kind of theme in some of the largest risks as identified by coach practitioners themselves on the global coaching scene.

Okay, next slide please. And this is again really where professional bodies like the ICF and the ICF being the largest global coaching organization, professional organization where we provide voluntary certification. We offer three different certifications, the associate certified coach, the professional certified coach, and the master certified coach. And each of these credentials have their own unique set of requirements ranging from education and training to experience hours in the coaching profession as well as independent assessment. We've devised this credentialing program with three primary purposes or goals in mind. And for fellow association professionals, many of these will sound very familiar to you. The first is to deliver a really high-quality professional credential for the global coaching community to recognize the rigorous education and experience and competence of coach practitioners. The second goal is to motivate coaches to continue on their professional growth and development.

And we do that through the credential renewal process where ongoing coach education is required. And finally, and perhaps most important, we want to provide an important quality assurance to clients of coaching so that they know when they are working with an ICF credentialed coach that this individual has met rigorous education and experienced requirements, and has been independently assessed for their knowledge and their competence to be a qualified practitioner.

So I mentioned that the coaching community and the coaching profession is a relatively young profession, and we've been offering credentials at the ICF really almost right after we were founded as an organization. We started our credentialing program in 1998 when we awarded 35 individuals with an ICF credential. And as you can see, in 2019 we were just under 30,000 ICF credential holders worldwide. So we've experienced rapid growth in our 25 years or so of existence. And in between 2014 and 2019 alone, we experienced 88% growth rate, nearly doubling the number of active credential holders during that period.

Now we've had rapid growth both in terms of ICF credential holders, but also in kind of the global familiarity with coaching as a profession. So we have noticed that the marketplace, individual clients have become much greater aware of coaching as a legitimate profession and have really sought out coaches for their services in these years.

And not surprisingly, as we saw this rapid growth in the understanding of coaching as a profession as well as the value and the growth of credentialing as a service that we provide, we also saw huge spikes in the misuse of credential marks. Now, traditionally, like a lot of associations, originally our marks were provided as simple jpeg files where someone who earned a credential earned a digital file that they could post on their marketing materials, on their website, et cetera. Now, some of this misuse was from individuals who, their credentials had expired and they may not have even been aware that they had expired in their credential. But we also saw blatant fraud of our credential marks as well.

That really brings us to the whole question and purpose as we began to explore digital credentialing, is this question of, how can we improve the value and the security of ICF credentials both for credential holders so that value remains strong for them, but also for the clients that they serve, and in doing so really support the advancement and integrity of the coaching profession?

And again, that's really how we came to digital credentialing and to Credly in particular, providing an option for us to award secure digital credentials that were portable, they were easy to use, our credential holders could easily market themselves in digital spaces like LinkedIn, et cetera. But also providing that transparency and security in the credentials that have been issued so that clients can see exactly what our credential holders had to do to earn that valuable ACC, PCC, or MCC, how long they had held it and when it expired.

So we began this process in 2019. That's when we first started working with Credly. And it was such an easy process for us to adopt our digital credentials. And you can see representatives of those here on this slide, our ACC, PCC, and MCC credentials. We worked hand in glove with the Credly staff through a series of structured onboarding calls to set the badges up in a very easy to navigate platform. It was a wonderful experience and a very easy experience for us to develop and build these new credentials. And for us, because we were building these digital representations of our existing kind of credential portfolio, we were able to use that structure that we already had in place in terms of governance for these credentials. So it was a very easy process for us to use.

And as we went through this process, we identified three implementation goals if you will. And we were doing so, we built the digital credentials in the latter part of 2019 and our launch date for our digital badging program or digital credentialing program was April of 2020, approximately three weeks after kind of the world seemingly turned upside down as part of the COVID 19 pandemic. Our three goals were that we wanted to create distinct yet recognizable badges. We wanted to create badges that represented and reflected our credentialing, branding and ICF branding so that our credential holders would easily recognize them even if they were coming in a different form than they were used to, but also distinct so that they would stand out in the digital marketplace on social media sites like LinkedIn where our users, our credential holders typically market themselves.

We wanted to create a really high-quality adoption experience as well. We wanted to make this easy for our credential holders to take, embrace, adopt, and start sharing. And one of the ways that we did that was through an early adoption program, a pilot program if you will of our digital credentialing program where we identified 500 volunteers from around the globe. We wanted to be sure to include individuals from lots of different regions of the world and fully representative of our global credential community. And we asked them to adopt these digital badges. We gave them their digital badges early. We wanted their feedback on the adoption experience. We provided them with some of the great communications that we were able to receive from Credly and customize for our own use and for our own credential holders. We provided that. We wanted to get their feedback. And then we took that feedback and refined our adoption process prior to the full launch or full implementation.

Finally, our final goal was to clearly communicate the why and the how, what the value of this digital credentialing program was for our credential holders and how they can use it to leverage and market themselves more effectively in the marketplace. So again, we really utilized and leveraged the great communication resources that we received from Credly that we were able to customize to our own communities’ purpose and use. That included digital flyers, guidelines, instructions for adoption, web content, video tutorials and FAQs. And we went back to that early group of pilot testers, those early adopters, and they really served as ambassadors for this program. They began sharing their badges on LinkedIn and other social media sites and created some excitement and enthusiasm and thirst among our larger credentialed community that they wanted then these digital credentials as well. And as a result, we had really great results in terms of our acceptance rates.

In the first year of the program, we had a 74% acceptance rate or adoption rate of the digital badges and we were really, really proud of that. But it was important for us that we continued to communicate the importance, the why and the how of digital credentialing even beyond the initial implementation.

And so we've had so many great outcomes as a result of that continued communication. We've integrated social media campaigns where we've challenged our credential holders to share their badges. And then we've selected individual posts and really promoted those credential holders in some of the ICF communications, which has sparked a lot of excitement and enthusiasm around our digital badging program.

We have seen as an outcome of our program, and certainly the primary purpose of our program was to provide a more secure digital credential. And we have certainly seen that come to fruition. We've seen a significant decline in the reports of mark misuse. So we have to spend a lot less time enforcing the use of ICF credential marks, which is a wonderful result. But we've also seen an increased growth rate in credentialing. I mentioned from 2014 to 2019 we had an increase in active credential holders of 88% over that five year period. Between 2020 and 2022, so in just about 20 months, we've seen an additional increase of about 62%. So our growth rate has continued. And certainly there are other factors besides digital credentialing that have contributed to that. But this digital credentialing program has been a big part of that in that through every individual credential holder share of the digital badge, we've been able to market the value and the impact of ICF credentialing as well. And that's been incredibly important and valuable to us.

We've also seen an expansion of our digital credentialing program. We've added a new membership badge, which has also been wildly popular. And we've just added a new advanced certification in team coaching through a pilot program to our digital badge portfolio as well. And we're really excited to see the acceptance rate of that, which in August was 98%. And we've also seen increased acceptance rates of our ICF credential digital badges, the ACC, PCC, and MCC, of 89% from 2021 to 2022. That's really important to us.

What I didn't mention on this slide and I should have, we've also seen increased retention rates since adopting our digital badging program of about 5% in terms of credential renewals. And we think that that's super exciting and probably a testament to the value of the secure digital badge and the important reminder that it provides when an individual clicks on it and sees that they have expired, that seems to be a great incident for people to make sure and renew their credentials with the ICF. And so we've seen a 5% increase in our retention rate as well. So a lot of great outcomes of our program. As you can probably tell, I'm really excited about what ICFs digital credentialing program has provided and certainly the service of Credly as well. So with that, I'm excited to turn it over to Veronica, who's going to share about EDUCAUSE's digital credentialing program.

Veronica Diaz:

Great. Thank you, Carrie. I'm Veronica Diaz. I'm the senior director for professional learning at EDUCAUSE. And as such, I oversee our learning portfolio, which includes online and face to face events, as well as micro-credentialing, mentoring and other things, all that support the advancement of professionals.

EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit professional association, and our members are higher education institutions and information technology companies from across the world. And most of our members come from the intersection of higher education and information technology, which today includes just about everybody.

We've got about 1700 institutional members. And so that means that anybody working at one of those member institutions is a member of EDUCAUSE and has access to all of our programs. We have just over 350 IT companies and several non-profit members as well that are other associations and other nonprofit organizations.

So some of the domain areas that we serve, to give you an idea of who our members are, are professionals in the cyber security and privacy areas such as chief information security offers and teams that report to them, IT leaders like an enterprise IT or more traditional information technology, and everybody in the teaching and learning space that has some engagement with either classroom technology or technology for online learning, and anything that supports students as well. Student advising technologies too. And then I have the, "Don't put me in a box," it's other folks that work in technology like institutional research, facilities, just all kinds of folks that touch technology in higher education today. Next. We have been in the micro-credentialing space since 2013. That's when we did our pilot with. And we've been with Credly the entire time. We worked with Credly to help us kind of set up what the initial constellation would look like.

We have four categories in our constellation. The first is volunteer service. So we award a micro-credential for anyone who works on an advisory committee for us, program committees, those who review proposals, any kind of thing where they volunteer and it's related to supporting the association, its community. If it's significant, we have categories that help us to assess when somebody reaches a certain threshold of volunteer time. We award a micro-credential to recognize that service.

We also have another category, and this is probably the one that is the most active and we call it expertise development. So we offer a very pretty big portfolio of learning programs both online and face to face. And when someone completes verified learning, they have to submit evidence and that evidence is evaluated. Then, we award them a micro-credential. It's probably worth noting that we don't really offer any high stakes certification programs, like for instance a program management, like a PMP or there's various other credential programs similar to Carrie's where you have to submit evidence that you have met certain hours and that you've completed certain trainings and things like that.

We don't have any programs that are like that. It's all what I would call low stakes certification programs. And the next category is leadership. So we have faculty that serve in our programs, facilitators, folks that are subject matter experts that lead the development of our programs. We recognize their service as well through a micro-credential. And then the last one is awards. Anyone that receives let's call it a paper award or a plaque award, they receive a digital recognition of that through a micro-credential. We did not build any programs to accommodate micro-credentials. All the programs that we had already existed and had a following. And so we just layered on the micro-credential to recognize behavior, engagement, service, recognition on top of that. So it was not difficult for us to build awareness.

We also worked with a graphic designer to develop all of our micro-credentials. So we have a marketing team and a design team. But we found that developing micro-credentials and the artwork that goes with that is a bit of a unique skill set. So we outsourced that and had a very successful experience with it. And the turnaround for that is pretty quick. For us, I think it was about three months. So I want to share with you a little bit of the data that we've got on our next slide. So this number says that we've awarded about 20,000 credentials, but I think that number is a little bit low. We migrated to Credly's newer platform a couple of years ago, and I want to say that we have awarded since 2013, almost 10 years, well over a million micro-credentials across those categories that I showed you.

This number is most recent, I think just in the last couple of years. And across the entire micro-credential portfolio that we have, we have about a 67% acceptance rate, which is spot on with the Credly average. And I see that Jill asked, "What is acceptance?" So when we award a micro-credential, it comes through email and the default is that it's private. So at that point you can choose to accept it and add it to your portfolio, share it on LinkedIn, share it on Facebook, anywhere that you would like. We have a very high LinkedIn share rate. It's somewhere in the 90 range, 90% range. And that means that mostly micro-credentials for us are professional artifacts that get posted to LinkedIn. So in addition to degrees and other things that you're awarded, there's a credential space and people tend to post the credential there.

We do use Canvas for our learning management system and it is integrated into Credly and we have automatic awarding that goes on through that, which makes it very easy to scale and to administer.

So within our constellation, I mentioned we have expertise development. That's where we recognize learning. Within that set of micro-credentials, we've awarded about 7,600 of those across the community to lots of different types of professionals and professional levels like new professionals. I saw a post in chat earlier about engaging new customers, new members, new professionals, and we do that quite well. And the acceptance rate in the learning part of the portfolio is 74%. So they're pretty well engaged in that area.

So I want to tell you a little bit about a new program that we launch just this year called Professional Pathways that is very closely connected to the micro-credentialing work that we do. We are most definitely in an employee market. And the research tells us that career pathing is critical to attracting and retaining talent. And in fact, many of the organizations in higher education are in a challenging space, like many of us are, where we are hiring professionals that still need a fair amount of development and professional growth and learning and support to grow into the positions that they're taking. And that's the way we're addressing some of the employment gaps that we are seeing. So it's critical for employers, at least in higher education, to identify and close those gaps. And to do that, they rely on learning experiences that we provide as an association. And micro-credentials are a key part of both signaling the learning that is taking place to peers, to their employers, and to their institutions as they participate in that training. So they're very motivated to get that micro-credential and to demonstrate that they've completed and made good on that investment that their employer has made on their behalf.

So I mentioned that we have a professional pathways program, and as soon as I'm done talking, I'll share the link to that site in case you'd like to see a little bit more about it. We have identified for our member community four professional path areas, and you can see those here. And those are pretty well aligned to the communities that we serve. And there isn't too much outside of that.

And on the professional pathway site, we have identified levels of professional. You can see those across the top, early, mid-level, advanced, all the way up to executive level. And within those, you can see a little bit about what it means to be a professional at that level, sample positions, stories that are in the voice of the professional telling you about their career journey. Those are short videos. Skills. That's where we start to now map closely to our micro-credentials. And then a take action section.

Now, what you see here in this screen is all the different items that map to take action. And if we go to the next slide, I'll show you a little bit up close, what that looks like. And Susan, you can kind of scroll through those.

So this space is where a community member can go in and see what they can do today in that path, at that level immediately. And each of these is recognized by some form of micro-credentials. So here we've got make connections. You can join a community group and get involved and demonstrate some service there. And Susan, you can kind just go through those.

We've got volunteering that I mentioned earlier, participating in a learning program. This one in particular is data literacy. Submitting an article or a blog. We recognize those with an author micro-credential. Speaking at our leadership and management institutes or in our courses, you're recognized as a faculty member, as a thought leader with a micro-credential on that too. And the last one is serving as an ambassador to your own institution so you can become a more active member and working again in one of the community groups. We have hundreds of those. So that's just an example of how we connect our micro-credentials with all the different things that you can do to get involved with the community.

And I want to tell you just in a few seconds here that one of the things we're looking to do is... What you see here is a screenshot of a visual transcript that higher education uses, just an example. But EDUCAUSE is working on developing an engagement transcript showcasing all the things that the members are doing, like the things I showed you in the previous slide, writing an article, volunteering, completing a learning institute so that we can demonstrate the value of being an association member and also show back to that individual and to the paying organization who pays for the membership all the different things that they're doing and the value of being an EDUCAUSE member.

And all of our micro-credentials are connected to our data lake, so we will be able to visually represent those in an engagement transcript back to the member. It's a tremendous kind of 360 all the way back to demonstrating that value and sharing back in a great way. This connects back to career pathing, advancement, succession planning, all of those wonderful things that we want our employees to do that will in turn hopefully retain them. So I will stop now and let Susan kind of give us questions. I'm happy to talk about anything you've seen today.

Susan Manning:

Great. Audience, I know you're inspired. I am. I got a lot of good ideas from this. Now here's a question. As you are thinking about more questions that you want to ask Carrie and Veronica, I'm curious, if you were to start now with digital credentialing, where would you target? And there is a poll, and I'm pretty certain you can only select one. So you got to select the number one initiative that you would start with. And there are no wrong answers. Would you start offering credentials for compliance or for engagement or to award members or leaders or thought leaders in some capacity?

Okay, let's see what the audience says. Learning, okay. And then it's almost a tie for engagement and growth and development. Good. Great. Start thinking. Okay. So now, questions. Veronica already answered, "How do we compute acceptance?" And that is, it's done in our platform really. You send a credential to someone. If they act on that email and create an account and accept it, it's accepted. If they go on to share it on some social media platform that we track, that's how we begin to calculate the sharing rate. And the views per share is also an interesting... I was looking at metrics for both organizations. When someone has a credential that is valuable and they value it enough to share it, other people look at it and we track that. And you'll see that with really respected credentials, the view rate is pretty high because others want to know more about it or they're using it to verify skills or membership or competency or whatever it is.

There was also a question that I read, "What's the difference between a micro-credential and a credential and are they the same thing?" And I am the first to admit that our vocabulary is kind of like the wild west. A credential fundamentally, it recognizes achievement that has been validated by a third party. So you truly cannot self-report a credential. I can't tell you I have a degree. You have to see the transcript from the university that says, "Yes, I have a degree." That's a credential. A micro-credential is just something in a smaller form. It may not be a full on degree. It could be the completion of learning, it could be membership. But it's been verified by the organization that gave you the credential.

And typically these organizations are not going to give you a credential unless you have met some prescribed criteria. Maybe you had to pay a membership fee. Maybe you had to attend this learning event and make sure that you were in attendance at least 80% of the time, and then submitted something as evidence. So there's criteria that you have to meet. You're then validated by this third party. That's a credential. A micro-credential is just that in a smaller package. And a digital credential means you can send it digitally. So let's use that degree example. I could give you a digital credential that verifies that I have that degree from the university that I said I did.

Okay. Questions, I'm going to start with you, Veronica. You mentioned the use of a graphic designer for your constellation. We also use the term a taxonomy. It's a great visual way to distinguish the types of credentials that you're issuing. Talk a little bit about how that constellation has changed through the years.

Veronica Diaz:

Yeah, that's a good question. In our pilot year and probably the next two years after that, we did a lot of focus groups with the community and we looked at the data very critically. So anytime that an acceptance rate was low, we talked to the community about it. And we realized that the folks that we were awarding badges really only wanted micro-credentials that were difficult to get. So nobody likes, at least from our community, the participant badges, the show up kind of badges. They really wanted to have verified, difficult to get into experiences that were by application only. Those are the badges that were highly sought after. So the more prestigious or exclusive, I know it's not a great thing, but those are the micro-credentials that are very highly valued and highly displayed as well. So yeah. We kept in very close touch with the community and asked a lot of questions at the very beginning, very, very much so to tailor and trim the constellation to things that were only valuable.

Susan Manning:

There was a value question that came in too because you could create a credential for anything. I will say this, when someone becomes a customer of Credly, we advise them to think about credentials that are, the phrase used to be resume worthy. I would say career advancing. So things that have meaning, because otherwise it's badge pollution and they all begin to mush together and they have no real value. Carrie, going back to the graphics question, where did you get your graphics and how did that work?

Carrie Abner:

Great, yes. Thank you, Susan. So we got our graphics, initially when we started our pilot program, we actually had a former logo that we were using as an organization. And so we integrated a very simple logo through our graphic design team at ICF. They designed the badge for us. But it was a very simple logo. We were actually in the process of doing a whole new organizational kind of branding initiative. And so we saved the creative juices for when that new branding was available. And again, our graphics team helped devise the look and the feel of the badges that you saw on the slides today. That included our branding, but also some unique elements from a badging perspective as well.

Susan Manning:

There was what I'll call a tactical question. What happens if you rebrand? Do you get charged for that? And the answer is no. You literally swap out the graphic file from the old to the new. And the cool thing is it updates for everyone retroactively. So if you were to go through a significant branding change, it's easy. All right. Let's talk about, Carrie, you introduced the idea of a fraud misusing a badge. How do you know that they've misused a badge? How do you address that? And if you give a credential for professionalism of any sort and someone misrepresents themselves but they earned the credential, how do you handle that?

Carrie Abner:

These are really great questions. So we haven't seen many instances at all of individuals misusing our digital badges. And that's partly because of the way that these badges are developed and designed where an individual can click on those badges and go to a profile page for that individual earner, which includes what we call metadata. It includes data about that individual, their award of that particular badge, what they had to do to earn that badge when it was issued and when it expires. So we have not seen hardly any instances of individuals misusing the badge because of that security mechanism that's built in, which is wonderful.

Now we've had a handful of cases where individuals have tried to use just the image, but it doesn't go anywhere. So it's a pretty easy thing to identify when someone is misusing it. Typically, we do have an a compliance team within the ICF, and that team deals with any kind of violations of our code of ethics, which can include misrepresentation of one's membership or credentialing status. And so our compliance team will in individually reach out to that person and address the issue in that form.

Susan Manning:

And really in that case, it has nothing to do with the digital credential. It has to do with the ethics and your governance of your association.

Carrie Abner:


Susan Manning:

Okay. Veronica, have you had any concerns about security, fraud, misuse?

Veronica Diaz:

We actually really haven't. And I saw a note about mitigating risk of related to misuse. And it's interesting. So the question if I could that popped up in the chat was one of our concerns about credentials is that people may mess up if they have a credential from us, it would reflect negatively upon our training. And I would say that's really not a credential issue. It's more about I guess potentially your training. If you're comfortable with your training and you're comfortable recognizing them in any way, then you should move ahead. But no, we haven't really had any issues related to misuse of the logo since we've been with Credly and using digital micro-credentials.

Susan Manning:

Veronica, tell us more about how you assess or determine the expertise. What does someone have to do?

Veronica Diaz: Yes. So in our more extended learning programs, we have deliverables that range from projects, applications, things like that, that we create inside of our learning management system. And they are required on a weekly basis. And so our programs range from 3-11 weeks long. Now we have a seven month program and we set the criteria. And when that criteria is met, which is pretty high for us, we require, in most cases, 100% of the deliverables be completed. Then, our faculty review the deliverables just like you would in a higher education course, college or university course. We go ahead and issue the micro-credential. And I mentioned earlier, that's all automated through the learning management system. So the Credly badges are integrated there. And once the criteria is met, the badge goes out automatically without any delay.

Susan Manning:

Great. Carrie, the assessment of your credentials, I noticed I was reading the metadata, they're really leveled or tiered. How do you know when someone has met the learning requirements that go into each tier? How are you tracking that?

Carrie Abner:

That's a great question. So as Veronica mentioned, ICF's credentialing program is what we would call a high stakes professional certification program. So we track that when individuals apply for one of the credentials. They have to submit an application that includes the education they have completed that would meet our standards for credentialing. So that's how we track it. However, one of the interesting things that we have seen since we have adopted digital credentialing is that a number of coaching education programs have also either adopted or explored the adoption of digital credentialing as well, which opens up a whole new possibility for us to be able to even better track education that individual coach practitioners have completed even before they've applied for an ICF credential, which is very exciting.

Susan Manning:

Oh my gosh, I'm looking at the time. I cannot believe this. I told you all that you were in for such a treat. I'm going to rattle off some fast answers regarding having a custom API integration. We have API documentation and we can set any organization up with a sandbox so they can experiment. We do have some off the shelf integrations that we can work with you, some like Canvas you set up pretty much on your own. Veronica has a subscription with Canvas. She manages that. Then she also has the subscription with Credly and they talk together. There are countless ways that you can connect and automate badge issuance. The metadata description, as Carrie said, it tells you who earned it, what they had to do, what it represents in terms of what the earner should be able to do. Lots of really good details that people want when they're verifying the rigor of a credential, as well as who has that credential.

We coach you. No pun intended, Carrie, sorry. We coach you on how to develop really quality metadata because a quality badge gets noticed. A skimpy badge that doesn't have that good information, it just does not hold the same value. And our data is stored in the US. Those are quick ones. I want to thank Carrie and Veronica for this fabulous, fabulous opportunity to learn more about digital credentials and how they've impacted their association world. There are lots of uses for digital credentials in corporate, in higher education. For the people who asked, "How do students earn it?" very similar to what Veronica described. You're in a learning experience. You are assessed by those faculty who determine that you are worthy of whatever that credential is. And hopefully the credential represents a significant skill set that would make them career ready, career advancing, that would have meaning to that person. Okay. Anyway, thank you, Carrie. Thank you, Veronica. Thank you audience for being fabulous participants. I look forward to seeing you in our next webinar when that comes about. So stay tuned and keep learning with us. Thanks.

Carrie Abner:

Thanks everyone.

Veronica Diaz:

Thank you so much.