How to Build a Wildly Successful Training Program with Digital Badges

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    Susan:
    Hello, everyone. As you're coming in the room, I want to welcome you to this is Susan from Credly. We're not actually starting for another couple of minutes, but I wanted to give you some audio so you know how to set your system and you know that we're here and we're excited to do this webinar. Many of you are coming in right now, and I know it takes a minute to get situated in zoom, so make yourself comfortable. I will chime in periodically, give you some audio to test, and then we'll get started.

    Susan:
    Okay? I could break my own rule and look at the chat here. I hope what I'm seeing is great. I'm seeing lots of people say hello to one another. Perfect. Keep going, folks.

    Susan:
    And if you've just joined in the last 15 minutes or 15 seconds, I'm sorry. I'm Susan from Credly, and I wanted to say hello and let you know you're in the right place. We are very excited to kick off this webinar. We're not officially going to start until we know that the numbers have slowed down a little bit. Lots of people are coming to hear our speakers today. It's very exciting. You found the chat feature. I can see that you're saying hello to each other, and I encourage that when we actually get into the webinar content, you'll be able to use the Q and A to ask questions for both of our speakers or me.

    Susan:
    So, hello again, everyone. I know I sound like I'm on an audio loop, but I want to make sure that as you come in the room, you can get situated and get your audio set the way you need to. I'm Susan from Krudy, and we are going to start in a couple of minutes for our webinar. Very excited to have you joining us today and look forward to what we're going to learn.

    Susan:
    Okay, we're getting close to where I see the numbers slowing down a little bit, so I'm going to officially say hello and welcome. I'm Susan from Credly, and I'm just so thrilled that you're here to join us for our webinar today. You were alerted when you came into the room that this is being recorded, so you will have access to this recording after the fact. Also, notice on this opening slide that we have a hashtag badge is done, right? So if you'd like to live tweet about this, we have members of Credly who are going to be looking at the tweets, and we invite you to tag us and use that hashtag specifically to talk about what it takes to make a wildly successful training program with digital credentials. This is probably our number one question that we get at Credly. 

    Susan:
    And today I'm joined by Darren Surch from Interskill Learning and also our own Jim Daniels. And you will hear that Jim has a very storied past as well when it comes to digital credentials. And we're looking forward to having the two of them unpack how they've set up really successful programs. 

    Susan:
    And as I said, I'm Susan from Credly. Okay, let's just kind of level-set before we get going. There are lots of reasons why people offer digital credentials. One is to monitor and track to signify compliance. But these credentials can also be applied to general learning within a company or planning for workforce or for skills, or for learning and development and where you might want to move an organization. Also, we know that digital credentials are highly engaging, and so keeping your whether it's your workforce, your employees, your students, your customers engaged in your organization and what you're offering, credentials seem to hit the mark in that. And we've also seen them used to signify awards. So when you have a distinguished senior scholar, for instance, you could use a digital Credential to represent that award. 

    Susan:
    We have a very robust network at Credly. I wanted to show you just a couple of the statistics here. And actually, it's not 25 million Credential earners. It's up to 27 million, and it's up to 2600. It's 2800 issuers on our network. And so we have a lot of data and a lot of organizations that can share their stories with us. But let's start off a little bit, give you something to do before we launch into the content. We'd like to ask you a question. Why do you think you would use digital credentials? And if you're already a customer, go ahead and tell us your primary reason for using digital credentials. And I think you can only select one here. So what's the most common reason you would think for your organization? There's no right answer. It will be interesting to see what your feedback is. And I've got a colleague who's monitoring this poll. So after a few seconds, if you have the chance to share the results, we'd love to see those, and if not, we'll come back with that data.

    Susan:
    So, tied to learning and engagement, those two are clearly the front runners for reasons. That's great. Okay, now I'm going to introduce Darren Search from InterSpeed Learning, and Darren is going to guide us through some amazing work that he's done with digital credentials in his program. So, Darren, thanks. 

    Darren
    Susan, and good day. Jim and good day, everybody. Thanks for joining us today. I'll be speaking from my company, Interskill Learning. From our point of view, we are a training organization. So interesting to see 77% of people are interested in training. I'm just going to sort of introduce the main players or set the scene in our story for you so that it all makes a bit more sense. Susan, if you could go to that next slide for me. 

    Darren: 
    Okay, so this is really interesting. What happens in 1 second? We're obviously all sitting on a zoom call so we all understand what it is to be living online a little bit. 5787 Tweets per second, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Google 63,000 searches. Look at that number over on the right. You may or may not be aware of this part of the world. This is the stuff that's happening behind the scenes. In 1 second you can see the other interactions with the Internet. 1.1 plus million transactions through IBM Z mainframe computers. Just incredible influence on the way the world works. Next slide, please. So this is it. Beautiful thing that it is. IBM's new Z 16. IBM Z runs the world over 67% of the Fortune 100%. So all the big banks, finance, insurance, governments, health care, all the big number crunches and transaction companies will use this mainframe for its absolutely peerless security, data security. It measures downtime in minutes per decade. It's incredibly resilient and incredibly, incredibly fast. 30 billion Encrypted transactions daily on mainframe systems.

    Darren:
    So these are the systems that run the world. And my company, Interskill, trains the people that run these mainframe computers around the world. There's only probably 2002 and a half thousand companies in the world that have mainframes because of what they do, but we provide training. Now, the mainframe started back in the 60s. They were some of the earliest computers, and big corporations and governments started using these in the 60s. So training was typically done classroom style for decades. But Interskill popped up in 1990 with something really cool and innovative called computer based training. Now, computer based training was pretty wild at the time, but obviously it's become elearning with the ubiquity of the Internet. And all of us here, I'm sure, have done online classes or elearning today. So it's very widely accepted. So Interskill has a vast array of elearning courses in the mainframe space labs, assessments, videos, et cetera, et cetera. 

    Darren:
    Interskill is an Axcel learning company, and we are currently the world's most delivered mainframe training and hold a really important part in this global industry. Next slide, please. So at 2016, we started to hear from people at IBM, young Mr. Daniels on this call being one of them, we started to hear about this really amazing thing that IBM was doing with Credly called Digital Credentialing, and the new IBM digital badge program. And we started to find out more, and we're really excited by this thing. 

    IBM did a study not long after they rolled out Digital Credentialing to the IBM workforce. So the internal IBM workforce worldwide, and look at some of these results. Just including these digital credentials from Credly with internal training led to 129% increase in course enrollments, 226 increase in course completion, 694 percent, staggering increased end of course assessments. This is just human nature. We think back to when you were a little kid at school and the teacher put a little gold star sticker on your homework. I mean, you felt about ten foot tall - this is nice to be recognized and get something to recognize that. So the 129%, this just shows people will actively go out and seek training to earn a badge. They'll go and find the course they need to do and do the training.

    And this is part of what, read up on it if you can, what's called a learning culture. And a learning culture is a massive competitive advantage for any organization. This is where people actively go out and find training and complete training. There's a big increase in course completions, again, because people want to earn a badge. Instead of just dabbling in a course and starting and not finishing, they make sure they do because they want the badge. Same with the 694 percent. People want to earn a badge. So they're going to study hard, make sure they understand the course material, and do better in final course results. So just having badges, there is this massive lift in not only increasing results of training on an individual or a company workforce, or the global workforce level, but think about how much extra training, how much better results, how much better understanding how much increase in skills and competency, and so forth. 

    This all builds at whatever level just by adding the digital credentials. A couple of other little side effects that are staggering as well. IBM showed three times the engagement level of employees when digital credentials were being awarded for internal training. This is a massive lift for any company. Three times engagement for employees. And Digital Credentialing provides that also twice the workforce retention. When people are being recognized for the training they're doing and their new skills, and they see that their company is investing in their careers, they're more likely to stay at an organization. And at the moment, what they're calling the great resignation, people are shifting and changing and leaving companies and going for different jobs. This is a really important thing at the moment, is retaining workforce. 

    Darren:
    So again, just adding digital credentials does that as it says down the bottom here. IBM currently got over 3000 badges through Credly across over 200 programs. So it's a massive program. In the seven years, 5.3 million badges awarded right across training and completing projects, and earning patents, and speaking at conferences and everything and anything across all their product lines, but a lot of training as well. Next slide, please. 

    Darren:
    So this is cool. Once Interskilll figured out that this badging program, this digital Credentialing, was in play, we couldn't believe the synergy between digitally delivered training, online training, and digital Credentialing. They just go together. And as the definition of the word synergy is, they really do have much greater effect than the sum of their separate effects. We really complement each other. Elearning and Digital Credentialing. Next slide, please. 

    So we dived in initially. There are about a dozen. These are IBM's fantastic skills badges. There are multiple levels. Green is introductory level, orange is intermediate and then Blue is advanced. We've got a number of Blue ones, not on this graphic, but we worked with IBM to have our courses aligned with about a dozen badges originally. Currently, seven years later, there are over 100 IBM skills badges that are available for completing Interskill online courses. And in the mainframe industry, that's a massive impact because the mainframe industry really didn't have any formal accreditation. And so the global mainframe workforce was hungry for this sort of stuff, having accreditation to show that you knew your stuff in this highly technical area. So these are the skills badges. 

    And so what we did, we really wrapped our product around this, knowing all of these benefits, knowing how it drives learning and so forth. We do our course updates and our course development based around what's going to make a really valuable digital Credential from IBM. We purpose built this learning management system at Interskill so that learners can not only log in and pick a course and do the course, but they can also log in and select from the 100 plus digital credentials and say, this is the Credential I want to earn. And it automatically populates with the courses that they need to do. And they just click and start and do the courses. 

    Darren:
    The other really cool thing, and this is a terrific benefit from Credly, this learning management system is connected with Credly's API. And in a world of instant gratification, when people finish the courses they need to finish to do a badge, they can't wait to earn it. They can't wait. And so connecting an LMS through Credly's API means that the LMS, notifies the API and Credly's system straight away. And the learner receives an email from Credly saying, congratulations, you've just earned this new digital Credential from IBM. They get that straight away, which works really well. 

    So we did skill badges for a number of years. They were the main ones. And then again, speaking with Jim Daniels when he was at IBM running the digital badge program, we started to find out a bit more about some new methodologies, some things called stacked badge methodologies and so forth. So we came up, this is just a bit of a side trip to show you some really cool sort of modern digital Credentialing, which is sort of going to take the place of traditional certifications in the long run. 

    So these are IBM professional certificates. If you could go to the next slide, please. And these are more job role based. So they show proficiency in a job role. And you'll see here, these are long learning journeys. They're not just finishing a few courses for earning a badge. You'll go through multiple courses in the Blue, there's other introductory videos and things to show what's been learned and why it's important to that job role. You'll see simulations, there assessments, midterm exams, all this sort of stuff. Over 62 hours of training. You'll see, importantly, these skill badges. As you progress and do each section of this learning journey, you'll be earning skills badges as you go. Now, this motivates the learner. It gives them something to look forward to in small steps. It gives them rewards and shows that they've done training on these areas and they've got proficiency in these areas. And eventually you get to your final exams and you earn the final certification or the professional certificate, as opposed to certifications. That used to be a quiz of however many multiple choice questions. This will include 600, 700 questions, exercises, hands on work, simulations, et cetera, et cetera, throughout. So it's a really robust and rigorous qualification. Or Credential, the IBM professional certificates, and it's just a really cool new way, I think. 

    Anyway, I'm a bit of a digital Credentialing geek, but I love the way these things are set up and the results, and how people have to earn the structure and the motivation to push people through, and so on and so forth. 

    So just to distill it all down, I don't want to go too long if you are looking at doing something like this again. We're a learning company that is doing training, and we wanted to incorporate digital Credentialing into that. So we wrapped our Elearning product around digital Credentialing. Send out a shout out to Deborah Scott and Greg Hamlin in Australia. Greg is one of the foremost mainframe educators in the world. Deborah is the head of development team, content development team. They really work hard on wrapping this product around digital Credentialing. 

    Darren:
    We made sure we let our clients know all these benefits and how it was going to help them and help the industry to include Credentialing in this. We tried to keep up with the innovation with stacked badges and so forth to make it interesting and really get the power of that. Social media is incredibly important with digital Credentialing, and we amplify these credentials every time we can. IBM, the fact that these are IBM credentials is critical in this industry. That is IBM. IBM has the systems and the hardware. So the fact that the IBM credentials makes them incredibly valuable to people there. 

    And obviously, Credly system, the support and the credibley team helping us out at every step and advising us and working with us and so forth, just been fantastic in getting this done. And if you go to the next slide, it'll be a nice big exclamation point on the end. If you want to know why we said wildly successful after 30 years, or we were 23 years of our company, we got up to 270,000 hours of mainframe training delivered globally in 2017. Saw the first digital credentials. Have a look at that for numbers of hours of training delivered globally. So you add the badges and six years later, we're at just under a million hours of mainframe training delivered globally per year, 960 odd thousands. So it gives you an idea. 

    Over 80% of the IBM's mainframe training related badges issued by IBM are for industrial courseware. So this is the sort of thing that the digital credentials can do for training vendors and indeed for all training just to lift the consumption and the results from the training outcomes. And that's the end of my chat. Hopefully I haven't gone too long. Jim, you might want to chime in on some of that or Susan amazing

    Susan:
    And we're going to come back to unpack questions that we're getting from the audience and questions that I have too. But I want to first hear from Jim and then we'll come back to the discussion part. For those who don't know, Jim Daniels, he was with IBM prior to joining our professional services team at Crewe in March of this year. We feel like we've known Jim forever and he has certainly had a positive influence on Credly even before he came over to work with us. So Jim, I'm going to let you introduce a little more of yourself and talk to us. 

    Jim:
    Sure. So, yeah, my background, it goes back quite a ways, well beyond when I first got started in the world of digital badging. Back at IBM, I've been in the education, certification, training side of the information technology world for a lot of years now. So it was really interesting when back at IBM, when we first started taking a look at Badging and what the potential impact of that could be IBM's training ecosystem. And of course, that has been nothing but just a wildly successful program in and of itself as well. The thing I wanted to point out with regard to what Darren was just going through, even though Interskill is an Elearning business that's out there selling training to a specific market, the best practices, the approaches, the methodologies, the reasons why you would want to integrate Credentialing into that Elearning environment apply just as effectively to any organization that's leveraging Elearning from an internal standpoint for employee development purposes. And that was something that I saw initially. 

    Well before I know Darren, well before you and I connected and started looking at strategy around bringing digital Credentialing into Interskill learning, there were a lot of successes around the Elearning space specific to IBM and how digital credentials had an impact in terms of motivating folks and driving completions and those things, some of those metrics that you shared. 

    So actually, if you want to go to the next slide there, Susan, just some of the things here and this was a big exercise, I know, Darren, that you and I spend a lot of time on, which, by the way, it's not a one and done kind of scenario to have an effective digital Credentialing program over time. You do need to come back periodically and pose this why question right, why are we doing this? Why are we still doing it? To ensure that it stays fresh and current and that you're able to gain the full advantage of it. But these are just some of the really key elements around why you would want to do this. In terms of how you can add value back into your business or organization, one of the big ones is consistency, right? So no matter where training may take place or in what modality it takes place, the recognition of the skills that someone gains or the knowledge someone gains from that activity are placed into a very consistent format. So it's captured in these digital badges and that brings really a set of standards to how you're credentialing. 

    That was probably one of the biggest benefits I know at IBM, being such a large organization and having learning that was being delivered from so many different points across the organization is having one consistent approach to how the outcomes were captured and documented and structured and so forth. Having that occur via badging just brought such greater visibility and insights into what was happening in the organization. And that's actually how it was determined that things like the motivation for people to engage in learning or to stick with learning those kinds of things, it was possible to actually dig in and find those kinds of metrics and look at the impact was because of that consistency. 

    And of course, that consistency leads directly to having a single source of truth in terms of where the skills live within your organization or where you may have skills gaps. So there's a ton of information after the badges are issued that gets added into those badges that can further inform an organization as to how those badges are being shared. You can run all sorts of analytics and analysis and draw all sorts of insights about your organization and their readiness for that matter, in terms of being able to get the work done, resource mobilization that leads directly to that. 

    So if you really want to understand your resources, where your skilled resources are at, how skilled they are to be able to affect have more effective resource mobilization on projects and things, certainly the digital badging can help greatly with that also consumable so we don't want to forget about the consumer side of this. Obviously the organization that's issuing the badges, they're gaining value from all the insights and information that gets brought back inside the business as a result of those credentials being out in the ecosystem. The earner has a fully verifiable trusted record of what they've taken the time to invest in for training and learning. But then there's also the consumer side. And the consumer side may be the HR organization, right? It may be the talent management folks inside your own business. It could be your clients. If you have employees that have to engage with clients and those clients are concerned about the skills and capabilities of those employees as an example, the digital Credentialing can go a long way toward building that trust with your clients. 

    And then, of course, for the individual that turning those badges, this is another well proven set of metrics that I've seen play out time over time, and that is around career and economic mobility, opportunity being expanded for individuals that are earning credentials. 

    And Darren, I know anecdotally you and I have talked and there have been a number of use cases or testimonials, so to speak, kinds of things. Can you speak to I know there's one story that you told me about recently about an individual. I wonder if you could just share that story about someone that was impacted along these lines. 

    Darren:
    The gentleman I'm trying to think I told you, Jim, one gentleman from one of our clients, I think CSX, the train company, they're on a mainframe system. I'd known him from previously, and he came to visit us at a trade show, at a conference. And he came up to me and said, hey, I've earned these three badges, these three skills badges. And I said, Oh, well, congratulations. And as we were talking, I'm doing the math in my head, and I said, that's like 30 hours worth of training. Turn. That's fantastic. And as he was leaving the booth, I said, just on a personal level, would you have done that much training if it wasn't for the Badgers? And he laughed. He said, I wouldn't have done any training this year if it wasn't for the badges. He said, the reason I did 30 hours of training is because I wanted to earn those badges. Think about the ripple effect of that. Think about if your entire workforce is doing this much more training every year because they want to earn these badges. And the way that that lifts skill levels and competency levels and reduces downtime and error, etc. On an individual career level, on a company workforce level, on a global industry level, it's just the consumption of training and the better training outcomes because of the motivation of the credentials. It lifts everything. So I hope that's the one you were referring to. 

    Jim:
    Yeah, that's the one. That's the one, for sure. On a micro level, it's amazing when you extrapolate that out. Yeah. And Susan, if you want to go ahead and just pop to the next slide, 

    Susan:
    I'm seeing some really good questions. So I want to make sure we get to as many of those as we can. No, for me not to interrupt there, but go. Yes. 

    Jim:
    So very quickly, when you think about a Credentialing strategy, you need to think about it in the context of how is it going to enhance your organization in other areas. Right. So Credentialing, just for the sake of Credentialing is not enough. You need to think of it in terms of how it's going to impact the business. And so these are just some examples that were put together when I sat down with a colleague back at IBM and started brainstorming about the different ways we could build KPIs around the Credentialing program. And a lot of what you see here relates directly to the delivery of education and finding those sweet spots, so to speak, where it makes sense to bring Credentialing in. And it could be Credentialing high stakes certifications, or it could be looking more granular at specific discrete skills, or what some will refer to oftentimes as micro credentials all matter, for that matter. And these are just some of the things that you can think about skills eminence. That was a big one that came up. I remember when I first got into Badging, what is this going to do to help individuals build their own personal brand? And it kind of gets back to that career growth and so forth. And certainly you don't award evidence. It's something you have to earn overtime. And Credentialing can certainly have a profound impact there around career milestones building that really loyal skills base. There are so many compelling needs that can be addressed with Credentialing or they can be influenced by Credentialing in a really positive way. So I'm going to stop there because we've got some great questions and I'll let you moderate here. Okay, I will. And I'm going to go forward. 

    Susan:
    Just let's unpack something or clarify something from the get go. Darren, the people who are coming to learn with Interskill Learning are not IBM employees, necessarily. They work in a multitude of companies, correct? 

    Darren:
    Yeah. All of the big banks and financial insurance and all these big corporations around the world, about two and a half thousand of them that run mainframes. These people need to do the training to further their careers or the corporations need to train their workforce to ensure that the mainframes are being used optimally. So the training is done by all of this workforce. Whereas when Jim was working at IBM and offering not all of IBM's badges are IBM centered. 

    Susan:
    There are some that are for employee development, but again, not all of them. Some there are freely available. 

    Darren:
    Yeah. In fact, at IBM, just over half of all of the badges that were being issued were being issued to non IBM employees. Right. So at the time that I retired from IBM, there were around 230 different Badging programs inside of IBM that made up the entire global Credential program there. And with about 3000 published badges, which I think you mentioned in one of your earlier slides. But yes, about a little over half of those credentials being issued were being issued to non IBM that's customers. It's freelancing gig workers out in the market like developers, it's IBM business partners. And it wasn't always just IBM issuing those badges. It's companies like Interskill Learning. Right. And Interskill was issuing badges to IBM employees, to all these other kinds of companies using IBM technology and people, career seekers, people who are looking to find either change careers or start a career getting exposed to the world of mainframe technology right. Which has been around a long, long time and came across Interskill and found these just fantastic programs that could lead them down that path. 

    Susan:
    Darren, I loved how you described this as a journey, a learning journey.
     
    Darren:
    Yeah. So the learner goes through some content and then there's an assessment. Correct.
     
    Susan:
    All of that's done inside your LMS, right?

    Darren:
    Yeah. They'll launch the courses in a nice little path. Each course has quizzes and interactivity and exercises and things throughout. So you're constantly being tested. And I think this rigor and this assessment is really important for digital credentialing. If anyone just clicks and watches a video and then gets to the end of it, I don't know what that proves. But if there's assessments and all of that sort of rigor, so they'll go through and do exams, which are randomized timed exams, as well as all of the quizzes and stuff in the courses and all sorts of other exercises and so forth. I'm repeating myself here, but it really is a journey. The part that I just fell in love with was the stacked badges, because if you look at a 60 hours learning journey and all you get is one badge at the end, that's great. And you'll go through it the same as when you go and you get a university degree. You'll do four years worth of training to get your final degree. But if you're earning each time you go through a section, you're getting a little skills credential that says you know how to work on this topic. The really cool thing, and I won't get on a rant, is that with digital Credentialing and the metadata behind the badges, anyone can come and say, oh, that's got a skills badge here for JCL or for Zos. Click. I can see what they did, everything they learned, when they did it, what courses they did, how it worked, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So all this stuff is built into the metadata of these badges so that anyone can see exactly. It's not just that this person knows JCL, it's this person knows all of these components about it. And you can dig down in and that's why I fell in love with Credly and with digital credentials. It's just a remarkable system. 

    Susan:
    So you've got the skills badges and then you've got fairly high stakes certifications. Were you worried at all that people would go after the skills where the assessment is a little lower stakes and then a high stakes assessment and prevent them from going further?

    Darren:
    I think people get hungry to learn. And when they do skills badges, that's all well and good, and they'll promote those up to the sizes that LinkedIn has got, I think has really helped digital credentialing as well, because anyone can say anything on LinkedIn that they know, and who could ever tell? But if they can start posting digital credentials from verified sources, companies like IBM and so on and so forth, it shows that they really know what they're talking about. So people will earn skills badges, but the same way as people will do a course at a college, but for somebody to sit and commit time to do a four year degree or a master's degree or something like that, I think there's that in everybody that we're driven to earn something a little more prestigious or a lot more prestigious. And that's what these certifications and credentials are. And anyone who sees that credential put up that professional certificate or certification, put up on LinkedIn or in the signature block of your email or wherever you want to show it off, they can see instantly. And again, by clicking on it, they can see definitively that this is not just a skills badge. 

    This is a massive array of training and learning and assessment to show that you do know it. It really shows that you know how to do a job rather than just know how to do a skill. So it's a different level. I hope that just a segue off that too. I think the opposite actually ends up being true, that the combination of having skill badges that sit within the pathway that someone would navigate towards certification actually serve to really help motivate and provide that stickiness that's really needed. 

    Also, when you kind of look at it from the other direction, let's say I've navigated this lengthy pathway, maybe it's played out over months or even a couple of years or whatever time frame it is once you have that certification, and this was something that I saw on an increasing basis and continue to see, is people want to have a bit more insight into the granularity behind that certification. And so when you come at it from that direction and then start to drill in, you can see some of these more. It's like, if someone wants to become a data scientist, and let's say I'm a certified data scientist, that's great, right? But there are some really essential critical skills that data scientists have to have that may not be reflected as completely within that certification credential as they would in something that's a bit more granular or reflects that skill at a more discrete level. So, like Python programming, for instance, would be an example of that, where you earn a credential, maybe you go through and you get fully up to speed on working with Python. You're not yet a data scientist, but you've mastered that Python piece of becoming a data scientist, and it's important. So as long as the skills badges can work and complement the higher stake certifications, it works out beautifully. It's all part of that Credentialing framework that ultimately everyone has to kind of think through.

    Sorry to jump in, but that personal brand, again, just using LinkedIn as an example, all of these digital credentials are like a mosaic. You know what I mean? They paint a picture when you see all of the credentials that someone's earned. If you want to dig down in and see exactly. But it paints a picture of what this person's knowledge is and all of the areas that they have learned and all of the skills that they have and so forth. 

    Susan:
    I love that visual of a mosaic because it evokes color to me. And we all have different colors right. In our career pathway and expertise in various areas, if those could be represented. And right from the beginning, Darren, you mentioned recognition. Recognition is such a powerful motivator. However, if you're going to be recognized, that means there's someone on the other end who will care and who will do something with that achievement. Right. So hear me out, Darren. I saw you look perplexed. Let's say I go back to school, and I don't mean that in a formal academic way. I go to learn more lifelong learning. Lifelong learning. And I start achieving credentials. Someone at my organization or maybe someone who wants to poach me, has to care about those. Right. So how do we help organizations understand the value of looking at candidates with the credentials? And Jim, I'm going to throw this one to you. 

    Jim:
    Yeah. I think part of that starts from any organization that's going to be putting in place a Credentialing strategy. And I saw some questions in here that kind of relate to what you were just covering there, Susan being thoughtful about what you credential, how you capture that. Right. Who's going to care about that Credential after you've earned it? Right. In other words, what's Credential worthy and what's not? And from a consumer standpoint, for those, if it's someone that's looking to as the saying goes, we're all out there either trying to get a job, keeper job or get a better job. Right. In some respects, even if it's with the same company, you can get promoted in advance and things like that. And so how can credentials impact that?

    Just off on a little bit of a tangent, one of the things that from a survey that was conducted at IBM, one of the questions was aimed at the badge earner was, how does this make you feel about your employer? And 80% said that it makes me feel more connected to the employer. Right. So actually, from a cultural standpoint and there was another question here about using badging as a means of driving a culture of learning and engagement and achievement. Absolutely. It had profound effects on that level at IBM.

    But again, it comes back to, when you do decide what you're going to badge, the steps you go through, or the questions you ask around what's Credential worthy and what's not, you have to think of it from a standpoint of is it one of those hot skills, right? Those discrete skills that are so important to an occupation or a job that really need to be called out independently, something that would show up in a resume if you were to actually start documenting in a resume what you know and can do and what you've mastered if you were going to be sitting down in an annual performance review and a manager wanted to have a conversation about, okay, let's look at your learning investments last year, and let's look at the things that have really propelled you from a knowledge and skills standpoint, what's going to rise to the surface in those kinds of conversations.

    That thought process ultimately will put everyone in the right kind of mindset to make sound decisions on what should be badged and why it should be badged, and of course, how that badge can add value to all three stakeholders. The issuer, the earner and the consumer. Did that get anywhere close to answering your question? Sure. And again, we're a training organization, so we're talking a lot about training today, but the breadth of what digital credentials can be offered for.

    I know I've earned digital credentials from IBM for speaking at IBM conferences and for advocacy that I do around the mainframe industry and an IBM Champion Award digital Credential, which is sort of a higher level thing that you'll put, again, building that personal brand and being noticed in your organization for these achievements. Not usually a good social practice to walk around telling everybody how good you are at everything, but if you've got these digital credentials that show that you have skills in these areas or interest in these areas or achievements in these areas as part of LinkedIn or wherever else it showed, it really does build that picture and that personal brand so that it will enhance your career or the other things we're talking about before. Sorry, I jumped on that little sidetrack. 

    Susan:
    Jim, you brought up the idea of a micro Credential, and that term tends to mean different things depending on the context. How did you mean it and what does what does it mean in IBM's world? 

    Jim:
    My definition of a micro Credential is going to be goes right back to that other term that I've used, which is how you capture and document your expertise around a discrete skill. Right. Something that's more granular in nature, but is really critical to a collective set of capabilities or a competency or a job role. So that's how I see micro credentials. I think you'll see microcredential. It's a term that's used a little differently depending on where you find yourself out in the world, across the academic community, it can tend to take on a little bit more. In fact, it's used pretty extensively. That term in the academic community wasn't used so much at IBM. The term that was favored there was discrete skill. And I think that is an important connection. If you're coming to us from academia, if you're listening here and you hear micro credentials, you might think that that means possibly a bundle of courses, less than a minor, maybe less than an academic certificate. But it's still focused on discrete skills. It still has a very targeted outcome, if you will. And so it might be a little bigger than an IBM's definition of a micro Credential, but there is that common thread of focusing on the discrete skill. 

    Darren:
    And if I can throw something in everyone in the audience, as you can see by this conversation, please reach out to Credly if you have any of these questions about Credentialing in general. Just wanting to understand it better. The team at Credly are just remarkable. They take time and they'll sit and I'll chat with you and find out what your goals are and how Credentialing is going to best work and fit to achieve what you need. I'll be quiet, but just based on the last six or eight years of experience with credible, they're just remarkably helpful and all that sort of stuff. And knowledgeable, obviously, given their place in the industry.

    Susan:
     So to that end, I understand there's quite a bit of chat going on. Can you pull this off if you're not an IBM, if you don't, if you're not a big name player? 

    Jim:
    I think you can. It certainly would have been harder five to ten years ago, obviously, when IBM first got into it. IBM such a heavyweight brand, instant credibility, right? So that was very much a luxury that I enjoyed back when first standing up the program there. But I think if you look back over the past seven or eight years and look at where the world of digital Credentialing has gone, we're past that point to where only those that have really noteworthy brands in the market can benefit from digital badges. There's more of an expectation now that your credentials be captured in the form of a badge, right? And keep in mind, when I say badge, I mean something different than when I say Credential, because the badge is the container, right? It's that delivery mechanism that allows you to document whatever achievement or recognition or Credential might need to be represented. But these days, no, you do not have to be some household recognizable brand name to have a credible digital Credentialing strategy. In fact, it's one of the things that is part and parcel to how we work with clients here at Credly. From a consulting standpoint, we have thousands of clients, and certainly not all of them are these big, huge, well known brands. But there are methods that can be followed and best practices that can be put in place, all based on the voice of experience of those of us here at Credly and lessons learned and things of that nature that can ensure any Credential strategy that's developed. If it's done so thoughtfully, it will land with credibility and trustworthiness, and I'm absolutely confident of that. 

    Susan:
    I'm going to really take a left turn here. Let's talk about assessment, Darren, in your program, what are the various ways that you assess the outcomes of the learning journey and just talk a little bit about the rigor for trustworthiness because that's a really important component of having a Credential program grow. 

    Darren:
    Yeah. The Elearning courses that we have are all broken down into a modular level of an hour and each of those modules, bite size modules, are broken up into information and then some interactive. Depends what it trains on. I suppose if you're training on a programming language, then there's interactive coding and stuff to practice. If you're training on a software application, something systems, then there's going to be screen simulations. So you're going through and you're clicking where you need to click, or you're entering things in fields or you're making changes and so forth. More theoretical stuff. You're going to have drag and drop questions and some multi choice but some short answer. And we try and drag titles across onto pictures of hardware to show what each component is and we try to mix it up as much as we can. So there's quizzes and questions and exercises through all the courses at the end of each course of four or 5 hours, typically standard. There's a mastery test at the end which will test people again. And then when you finished the professional certificates case, when you finished sets of courses, then you'll do an exam which is something you have to sit there for an hour and go through from maybe 250 questions, a randomized selection of 100 questions in an hour. So you can sit it again and again and again and it'll be different questions each time you sit it. You can have ten people sitting next to each other doing the same test and they'll be seeing different questions all the time because it's randomized. So we build lots of stuff like that into it so that it's a really rigorous and good assessment of what people know and make sure that they understood again and again, not just one final exam where they may guess or they may not, they may get lucky on a question or not. You can test again and again and again as you go through and that's part of learning. If you get something wrong the first time, you're going to learn it the next time you go through it and figure it out and it gets the skills across. So I hope that didn't go into the weeds too much. 

    Susan:
    Incredibly important are your final the highest stake exam. Is that a proctored thing? Can you do it online. Do you go to a testing center? 

    Darren:
    Yeah, this is all online and this is not proctored for this. We're looking at that for some of the more advanced ones at a later time. 

    Susan:
    What about the highest IBM exam? The highest stake? 

    Jim:
    Yeah, certainly their professional certification program, that's a proctored timed type of exam process. And the way those exams are built, the psychometricians are involved, right. Because those kinds of credentials, they have to be legally defensible and they have to be psychometrically sound. They're the highest stakes kinds of credentials. And so some of those exams will go through weeks, if not months of development to get them right. And then they get hosted by a third party where, again, it's all proctored delivery. Also the certification exams that are developed there and this is pretty much across the board, anyone that has a formal certification program where they're delivering proctored exams that are timed in terms of once you start taking them, those kinds of exams are going to be I lost my thought here. Oh, I know what I was going to say.

    When you have those kinds of high stake credentials, the key thing about those is the badge is going to bring transparency to that kind of structure, right. So if it's proctored, the badge is going to reflect that. If there are 60 questions involved, it's going to reflect that. Whatever the time limit is, it's going to reflect that. So it's one of these things where and I think there was a question related it's, right? It's how do you draw differentiation between a low stakes kind of Credential versus a high stakes Credential like certification? You certainly are able to define that to a substantial degree within the metadata that gets entered into when you're configuring the badges. Also, badge design, visual design can come into play around those things.

     

    But yeah, the high stakes credentials are definitely the ones that another interesting just kind of a sidetrack on that because this gets into a question that I've seen here that's just been eating at me, and that is how can these credentials or these badges help build a brand?

     

    Right? So someone says, I'm not a household name as a brand, how can badges help? And a lot of that is through that transparency I was talking about, the badges can amplify and they do amplify whatever it is that they represent. So if what you're representing is high quality, it will amplify that. That'll be very clear.

    Susan:

    I was going to say, if you're in our audience and you're already offering a high stakes Credential, you know, it because it's industry recognized, typically, and it's easy enough to represent that in a digital badge and make it transparent. But if you're not and you're starting from ground zero and you're building up and you're building perhaps you're layering this on to what you've already got in your curriculum, you're probably not going to start with the high stakes, but that brand, that recognition and the reinforcement as people are earning and sharing and earning and sharing. Give your name greater visibility to where you may build up to that, higher skills.

    Jim:

    Absolutely. I know the social media impact and I saw this and I used to track these metrics. How many impressions were being generated by an IBM badge that got shared out on LinkedIn as an example, whether it be a newsfeed or whatever, or it could be Facebook or Twitter, it's stunning. The marketing value that is derived from someone just going out and sharing their badge out into their professional networking site or wherever, it's astonishing. And if you were to actually back that into real money, what it would cost to actually go and stand up an ad campaign that would give you the same level of visibility, it would just be thousands and tens of thousands of dollars that would cost. So that's something that's just an automatic benefit. So it's important to have everyone that's earning the badges. I realize there are sometimes exceptions, but encouraging people to share what they've achieved and what they've accomplished, which is in everyone's very nature to do anyway, is a great way to get your brand out there and get it noticed through social media so you don't have to be an IBM to get started. You can start where you are with what you have and build up and you will see results. 

    Susan:
    I am shocked as I look at the clock and what time it is. This was so fun, but I feel like we scratched the surface. Darren, thank you so much for joining us and helping to tell this amazing story and with Jim as your sidekick to reinforce all of this great mentor that you've got. And to the audience, thank you so much for your engagement and the great questions and the conversation. And reach back to us if you have more questions. Thanks, everybody. 

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