“We don’t understand the need for digital credentials”

There are many reasons why an organization chooses digital credentials - the most common is to save time and money. We work with issuers that previously spent an average of $25 per certificate for design, print, packaging, and postage. This quickly adds up when issuing hundreds or thousands of credentials. Digital credentials drastically reduce cost and time commitments. In a case study with the Digital Marketing Institute, digital credentials saved the institute 7.5 hours a month and over $50k on the cost of printing and sending.

Physical certificate issuers often complain about a lack of ability to fully revoke or expire certificates ‘out in the wild’. Digital credentials solve this problem by allowing issuers to retain control over the validity of a credential. Shared credentials then direct verifiers to the official credential page where it’s easy to see if the credential is live and in date. 

“Digital credentials are equivalent to an online hosted PDF certificate”

PDF certificates save on the cost and time aspects of producing physical credentials but lack the full control of digital credentials. This includes the ability to revoke and expire, and protection against fraudulently produced copies or ‘spoofed’ certificates. PDF certificates are also difficult to share and verify. Recipients can easily share their digital credentials across social media platforms or add to their LinkedIn profile without any amendments required. Social media is a key marketing channel that organizations are missing out on when the path to sharing is complex.

Security is another concern for PDF credentials, as password protected PDFs can easily be bypassed. This means that even ‘secured’ PDF credentials can be edited without the issuer’s authorization and is a low barrier to fraud.

“Digital badges have little value and create clutter”

Digital badges aren’t restricted in their usage. This can often cause misunderstandings with decision-makers that consider digital badges no more than virtual ‘good job’ stickers. The truth is digital badges are versatile in their ability to represent a job well done and/or a well-earned skill. Every digital badge award collected by a recipient represents their efforts, abilities, and work ethic and provides a better understanding of that individual. This makes it the responsibility of the issuer to create a digital badging program that reflects the value of their award.

The first step to planning a digital badging campaign is to understand what exactly the organization intends to reward for. If managers want to use digital badges as ‘internal awards’ for representing contributions, achievements, and effort, this should be reflected in the badge detail. Organizations that want to issue digital badges for training or education should ensure that comprehensive skill tags and evidence are included to convey the knowledge gained. 

Some issuers chose to use digital badges as stacked micro-credentials that build towards a larger digital certificate. The digital badges contain detail about each step within the course and what knowledge or skills the recipient has gained. This is a favourable way of representing increasing skill levels and also introduces an element of gamification to learning. 

“Digital credentials aren’t secure”

Digital credentials contain recipient details which can cause some concern around data protection. Accredible stores data in secure tier 3 SOC 2-certified data centers protected by bank-level encryption - the same level of protection expected from banking firms. We also carry out frequent, automated penetration testing and vulnerability scanning, alongside annual security audits to ensure data is protected. The Accredible platform is fully GDPR compliant. 

Although we can’t comment on the security of other credentialing solutions, we can provide our Whitepaper that covers our data protection efforts in detail. 

“Digital credentials don’t translate outside the native credentialing system”

Contextual data is a key element in the design of a digital credential. Without contextual data, a hiring party won’t understand the difference between a digital badge issued by Company A vs Company B. The benefit of digital credentials in terms of contextual data is the space available for transcripts, evidence, and skill tags. A traditional one-page diploma or PDF certificate does not allow for comprehensive detail to be included without further pages (often supplied at additional cost). On the dedicated credential page, organizations can add as much detail as necessary.

If a training organization wanted to better translate the value of their training on a digital credential, they should include the knowledge gained during training in the contextual data. For example, a training organization issuing digital certificates in ‘Social Media Management’ would include:

  • What topics the training covered:
    • Getting started on social media
    • Planning strategies for social media
    • Managing social presence
  • What skills the training taught:
    • How to set-up social media profiles
    • How to write content for social media
    • How to manage multiple social platforms
  • What evidence was collected:
    • Quiz results
    • Coursework submitted
    • Application of knowledge
  • The learner evaluation

“Candidates don’t need credentials”

Too often this is an assumption by issuing providers. In our brunchwork case study, it was only after carrying out user interviews, did they realise the high demand for credentials. In a similar story, a training organization saw the potential for digital credentials after speaking to a prospective customer. The customer was choosing to remain with a competitor that issued digital badges as this improved their students' employability compared to a non-credential solution. This inspired the training organization to pursue their own digital credential program.  

As an increasing number of providers begin offering training and education to help fill professional skill gaps, issuers need to remain competitive. Issuer A may provide quality education but if competing Issuer B offers quality education and a digital credential, Issuer A is going to miss out. We recommend organizations poll their learners to understand how they can make their offering more attractive to current and future candidates.

“Digital credentialing is expensive”

Digital credentialing is not expensive but cost effective. An organization issuing 250 credentials at $5 per certificate has paid $1250 for the initial batch. That’s without taking into account the staff management time and packaging and postage costs. In comparison, an issuer on Accredible’s Launch Plan will pay $996 annually (with no further addons) and gain the ability to issue an unlimited number of digital badges and certificates to up to 250 recipients, delivered instantly. 

PDF certificates don’t require the same costs as physical credentials but carry the risk of harm to the issuing brand if the certificate is falsified or fraudulently amended. The lack of simple shareability for PDFs also prevents full utilization of user-generated marketing, where recipients are eager to share their awards to their social profiles. 

Digital credentialing is often considered expensive because plans are paid upfront, rather than in incremental batches when credentials are issued. This is a narrow view of the cost for digital credentials. The additional benefit of increased visibility provides an avenue for generating income. The time saved allows staff to be more efficient in their work and contribute to other departments. The costs saved over time can be invested back into the company or existing staff. This is why we consider the switch to digital credentials as an investment, rather than a cost. 

“Nobody knows what a micro-credential is”

Digital credentials are a ‘disruptive technology’ that is spreading rapidly. A disruptive technology is something new within an industry that has the potential to overhaul and improve current processes. For digital credentials this is the potential impact on the training, education, and hiring industries. With disruptive potential, comes new terms and definitions that take time to be standardized and accepted. 

Micro-credentials are one of these terms. Although it is an unfamiliar term, it is easy to understand with a simple definition. MicroHE, an Erasmus+ funded project assessing the impact and potential of micro-credentials, defines them as:

“A subunit of a credential that could accumulate into a larger credential or degree, or be a part of a portfolio. Examples include: Digital badges, Nanodegrees, and MicroMasters.”

When polling Erasmus students, they found that although most students were unfamiliar with the term, they understood the definition and welcomed the opportunity for micro-credentials. 

“Candidates prefer physical copies”

We understand that not everyone has embraced digital and prefers to receive a traditional certificate for display. Through Accredible, issuers upload high-quality designs ready for home or professional printing. Our certificate design tool includes a QR code generator for digital credentials delivered with the intention for printing. This enables an instant scannable link to the live credential page within the certificate design. 

Accredible ensures that high-quality printing is still an option but the cost is transferred to the recipient. This enables organizations to retain all the benefits of digital credentials without compromising on the recipient experience. 

“We don’t want to replace our internal systems”

Digital credentialing platforms aren’t intended to interfere or replace internal systems such as LMS platforms or bespoke solutions. Digital credentialing platforms work alongside current processes to streamline and automate steps that previously monopolized staff time and costs.

Organizations working on some of the most popular LMS platforms including Canvas and Moodle have access to the dedicated Accredible integration as part of the Connect Plan and above. LMS platforms such as Teachable and TalentLMS are supported through Zapier or Integrately connections. Accredible also provides a robust API that is used to connect bespoke platforms built in house. Visit the Integrations page for further information on the platforms and tools available via dedicated integration, API, Zapier, or Integrately. 

In Summary

Digital credentials are powerful tools that have the ability to change the credentialing landscape for the better. By informing against common misconceptions, we hope organizations can see the potential in digital credentials to:

  • Save time and money in production and sending
  • Retain control over the validity of credentials
  • Encourage recipients to celebrate through shares
  • Showcase the value of their education/training
  • Increase online visibility for their brand
  • Empower candidates to achieve more

Through wider adoption of digital certificates, digital badges, and micro-credentials, a future where education and skill development is accessible for everyone is within reach. 

If your organization or stakeholders have concerns or queries about digital credentials, talk to the Sales team. Our Sales team are happy to provide demos and presentations for Accredible, our digital credentialing software, and package options including White Labelling, Spotlight Directory, and Digital Wallet Cards.

Further Reading

Gain a fundamental understanding of digital credentials by downloading our Digital Credential Buyer’s Guide. The Buyer’s Guide provides an overview of:

  • How digital credentials support high-level strategies
  • How digital credentials are used to reward learners
  • What goes into a quality digital credentialing solution
  • How to compare platforms to find the best credentialing option

The guide is available to download for free by following the link below.

Get the Guide