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Digital Badges Expert Q&A – Wyatt Morris from McGraw-Hill

Digital credentials are a relatively new technology, which means businesses might not have a firm grasp on how they should be used, could be effective, or might be necessary for their recipients. We sat down with McGraw-Hill’s Wyatt Morris to get an expert’s take on what digital credentials are, how you can use them, and some sage advice on planning and implementing a digital certification program.

Check out the entire conversation, or jump to a specific question below.

 

Overview

Q: What does your organization do, and how is certification involved?

I work for SIMNET, a program in McGraw-Hill that teaches and assesses students on using Microsoft Office – all 4 applications. It is primarily used in higher education, with some high school use. In total, about 500 schools use McGraw-Hill’s SIMNET, with about 300,000 students per year. Badging is important to us because:

    • We wanted badges to be able to provide motivation for students to finish the course, so we set up completion based credentials which were a pat on the back to move them forward
    • The final certificate. There is a certification that Microsoft basically provides, but it’s expensive and you have to take it in person. So, we saw this as an option for someone like a community college student, that can’t afford the final exam but they can have it on their resume.
    • Everyone can say – and everyone does say – that they are proficient in Microsoft Excel, when they aren’t, so courses like ours are really valuable.

 

Q: How would you define digital badges and credentials?

A badge is something you can put on a resume or put in a digital wallet that proves you attended something, completed something, got assessed on something. Think about it this way – anything you typically get a certificate for, you can get it digitally now and it travels with you forever. You can use them for so many different things – training, continuing education, whatever you want.

Q: What types of credentials do you issue?

We do badges for completion of our 4 levels. Two badges are completion based, one at the beginning level and one at advanced, and the other two are tied to assessments, and those are certificates.

Q: Did you or your colleagues have any concerns around digital badges before you launched them?

Yes – I was completely anti-badging for two or three years. I even said that to customers, “I’ll never do badging”. I didn’t see the merit in it. I thought no one was going to care about a badge from SIMNET and McGraw Hill so it felt like a waste of time. But, I had one customer change my mind at a customer event. He stood up and said, “Look, I’m going to stay with this competitor because of their badges. I’m in a poor, rural part of Texas. My students are in a community college and this credential is what they are gonna get. And if this badge makes their resume rise up even one spot in the pile, I’m gonna do that for them”. That really opened my eyes.

Q: How do digital badges fit into your organization’s marketing strategy?

It’s a big thing. There are three major competitors in my market. Pearson already had badging, so we were the second, and the third player doesn’t have it at all yet. It was a big deal when we developed this to make it more of a complete program, and way better than what our competitors had. So, we marketed that as such – not just, ‘Hey, we have badges’, but we have the complete comprehensive program that will take your learners from the beginning all the way to the most advanced credential. We market this as a competitive advantage. Badging helps you communicate that journey, from the starter ALL the way to the expert.

Q: How do digital credentials compare to paper credentials?

I think digital credentials are more secure than paper. I think universities need to move towards it. I wish I could get a credential from Mississippi State University – where I went to school – so I can put it on my resume, so I don’t have to verify transcripts and degrees and all that.

Planning a Program

Q: Who should be involved in planning a badge program?

My advice is to try and keep it small to get it launched. Talking to other companies that had implemented badges was really helpful. It helped me communicate to our leadership after I launched it, so now it’s expanding within McGraw-Hill. The other departments are getting into badges now.

Q: What key considerations should an organization have when planning a program?

The first thing you have to know is what you’re trying to achieve with this. Work backwards – you can do a badge for anything, so what are you really trying to achieve? Then, figure it out from there. The way our program is set up is vastly different from an organization like a Skillsoft – they are wanting to get people in from the outside and retain them, but our students are assigned the work, so we don’t think as much about retention and for us, it’s more about employability and giving them another option to the Microsoft certification. Our goals were very different – so identify those needs and work from those as a starting point. E.g. – listing all the skills from a credential was a top priority for us.

Q: How did you decide on Accredible’s software?

We wanted really good, fast, smart people on both sides. My team and my development team are small. We only have 20 to 25 employees. I had my lead engineer set up a call with Credly, and I reached out to Accredible. It was important for us to have a company that would be nimble and move quickly on the tech side, and Accredible was that. I have really good tech people, you have really good tech people. I put them together and said, ‘you figure this out’. And they did, in a one hour conversation. You have a really sharp tech team that won’t slow us down with a bunch of nonsense. Once we picked Accredible, we had a wireframe within 10 days. I’d say it took 3-4 months from ‘I want to issue a badge’ to ‘I used a badge’.

Q: How do your badge tiers work?

We have 4 levels. The idea is that if you go through an Excel course that takes you a semester long – 15 weeks – we want that student to progress through to get all four. It’s based on Karate and our highest level is black belt. Our lead programmer was taking his kids to taekwando lessons, and he wanted to have a distinct name from the Microsoft options. He came up with using the karate belts, and we loved it, so we ran with it. Plus, we didn’t want to confuse the market. This isn’t Microsoft, this is McGraw-Hill. If we are going to say students have a black belt in excel, it’s got to mean something, especially coming from McGraw-Hill. It’s a high bar, by design. We really wanted to show employers that.

Q: How did you design your badges?

For us, it was easy – but it depends on what you’re using it for. The colors were easy because each course in Microsoft has it’s own color. Word is blue, Excel is green – so that was easy. We knew the colors right off the bat. The other thing we needed to make sure we included – which we did after the fact actually – was people might not know the order of karate belts. They might not know that white is before yellow, so we added L1, L2, L3, L4 to the bottom of the badge and we circle which one it is. And we wanted to make it look good – we had the logos and colors so it was making it reflective of that. The ability to update even after we issued a badge was a big deal.

Implementing your Program

Q: What were the hardest parts of your implementation?

[The implementation] was super easy, no big deal at all. We didn’t have any snags on the technical side. The hardest part was educating our sales people. They had heard about badges, but we were helping sales people to communicate the benefits, not just saying ‘hey, we have this too’. We want them going in saying, ‘here’s why we did this’.

Q: Was your launch successful, and did you reach your launch goals?

Oh, it’s been hugely successful. We have some built-ins that really help us juice our numbers. You’re gonna get a white belt pretty much as a starting point, so that really helped us show a significant amount of badges, but then you also see people getting a significant amount of higher badges. We’re issuing a quarter-million badges a year. It’s amazing – I thought we’d issue 10,000 or 20,000, so it’s been very successful, and we are looking for ways to move it forward. We allowed people who had previously taken the course to go in and claim previous badges – they wanted them too – so we could issue retrieval.

Q: How did you inform your recipients about the new credentials?

That’s something we could have done better on the student side at first. We put out a blog post, which is one way we communicate with instructors on new features, updates, etc. Instructors look at that, but students don’t. We could have been better – and are getting better – at going directly to students. Instructors don’t know how to explain this to students so we put some documentation together to help them do that, and we’re working on communicating with students directly – getting them to share more, getting them to understand more – how you can use it, how they can help, what they are, that this can help your resume.

Q: What key lessons did you learn when launching your digital badging program?

I think it helps me see the future in several different ways. We don’t up-sell anything in McGraw-Hill – the students aren’t in the market to buy things – so it’s tough to get them to spend additional money on anything. But, we can see badges changing that. If you are an introductory student but you want to get that black belt, we can offer you that, even if you’re not offered it through your course on campus. Standalone courses that aren’t instructor lead, allow you to work at your own pace but has a credential tied to it. Another big thing – I want to compete directly with Microsoft in the certification space. Their test is outdated, you have to take it in a brick and mortar facility – they have no online proctoring, so instead get certified with us.

Q: What metrics are you tracking post-launch?

I keep track of the overall issuance – that’s the big shocker number. We’ve issued over 280,000 – that immediately blows everyone away. I’m looking past the engagement, to what [recipients] are doing with them. That is my big focus now – if they aren’t sharing, they aren’t using them for what I want them to be used for, or where I think the most value is. I want to see them shared specifically on LinkedIn or other job sites.

Looking Ahead

Q: How are your recipients using their credentials?

It’s LinkedIn 99% of the time – that’s what I keep track of. We see Twitter too, but LinkedIn is what we look for. In our whole theory on this, it helps students get jobs – that’s the reason behind it – so we want them sharing on LinkedIn. That’s what we stress, because it’s where you can actually get a job.

Q: What are the biggest benefits you have seen as a result of implementing digital badges?

There are a couple of things. It gives students something they can take with them after getting through the class, and that’s something we haven’t done before. At McGraw-Hill as a whole, it has really opened up everyone’s eyes to the potential badging has for the future. We are making the business case to do this through all of our courses at McGraw-Hill – consumers in general are getting badges in high school, in college, in the workplace. You kind of need to get on board with it.

Q: How do you think digital badges and credentials will evolve in the next decade?

That’s a good question. We have so many people wanting to do their own badging, white labeling, putting their own stuff out there. I think, moving forward, it could take the place of so many things we do now and have something actually provable. If you do any training, you should be able to say, ‘Great – give me the badge’. Your resume should be a collection of credentials of things you have done and things you can prove.

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Accredible and 5G Announce Partnership to Bring Digital Credentials to Chile

29 October 2020 – Accredible, the leading digital credentialing platform, announced today a partnership with with technology company 5 G. Under the partnership, 5 G will resell Accredible’s digital credentialing software directly into the Chilean market through their newly created entity, Discobolo.

5 G is a Chilean company with more that 12 years experience in technology and innovation markets, as Microsoft partner, and have experience in Azure Cloud Solutions, Blockchain, Digital Transformation, and Information Processing Solutions.

“Since Digital Credentials are a new technology for the South American market, we have created an exclusive company: Discobolo S.p.A. (www.discobolo.cl) to handle the partnership with Accredible,” said 5 G director German Munoz. “We are proud to bring the world’s leading digital credential solution to companies in South America. Our goal is to enable them them in utilizing this state of the art software to reach new heights in innovation for achievement and recognition of learning.”

“Having partners like 5 G means we can offer a combination of Accredible’s world class solution, exceptional customer service, and – critically – local knowledge to previously unserved or underserved regions,” said Accredible CEO Danny King. “We already issue credentials for some of the world’s biggest companies – like Google, Zendesk, and UC Berkeley – but those current customers are clustered in a few dozen countries. Strategic partnerships, like Discobolo [5 G] will be the catalyst for Accredible’s digital credentials to reach every corner of the world.”

“This partnership will lay the foundations to grow adoption of digital credentials in South America,” added Munoz. “We’ve seen exponential growth in North America and Europe over the last 12 months. We are now looking at greener markets where our services can support Universities and Professional Associations in bringing their credential programs into the 21st century.”

About Accredible
Accredible is the industry-leading digital credentialing platform that securely issues, manages, tracks, and verifies millions of high-stakes credentials across the globe. Accredible integrates with leading learning software including Canvas, D2L Brightspace, Kajabi, Kryterion Webassessor, Moodle, Thinkific, and more. Over 1,000 leading Universities, associations, and technology companies such as Google, Skillsoft, Rosetta Stone, University of Cambridge, NACE, Zendesk, Hootsuite, IEEE, McGraw-Hill, INSEAD, IAPP, UC Berkeley, and The Digital Marketing Institute rely on Accredible to create, deliver and manage digital certificates and open badges. Learn more at accredible.com.

What are Blockchain Credentials?

What are Blockchain Credentials?

Blockchain Credentials are credentials that have been recorded against the blockchain to establish a heightened level of security and fraud prevention. Blockchain credentials are effectively impossible to forge or alter, and easy to verify.

What is the Blockchain?

The Blockchain is an incorruptible, decentralized digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record virtually any transaction of value – not just financial transactions. Anything written to the Blockchain can’t be altered in the future by any party. Accredible uses the Bitcoin Blockchain to store an immutable record of credentials, giving issuers the ability to verify credentials on the blockchain to help prevent fraud.

How Does the Blockchain Prevent Credential Fraud?

Different types of credentials have vastly different barriers to fraud. For paper credentials (certificates, diplomas), the barrier to fraud is understanding how to use Photoshop and printing tools. Secure digital credentials have a higher barrier to fraud, but require that the issuer has provided proper cybersecurity. For instance, Accredible offers bank-level digital security measures by default – it is as hard to hack Accredible’s digital credential security as it would be to hack a national bank.

With Blockchain security, the barrier to fraud is simultaneously hacking 51% of all global blockchain records. What that means is that credential records recorded to the blockchain are effectively impossible to change. Blockchain-recorded credentials cannot be altered, faked, nor spoofed. If someone does attempt to forge a credential, it won’t verify against the Blockchain record. With Blockchain security in place, third parties can be absolutely certain that a record hasn’t been altered since being issued. This dramatically improves fraud protection for any organization.

How Does it Work?

When you create a Blockchain-enabled credential, Accredible uses the information provided to create a series of numbers that represent that information. Accredible sends this information to the Blockchain and store it there. Whenever someone goes to verify a credential, Accredible checks the stored series of numbers against what the credential information generates today and make sure they’re the same.

Is Private Information Available on the Blockchain?

No private or personal information is stored on the Blockchain. The only thing stored on the Blockchain is a series of numbers mathematically derived from the credential information. Accredible can use this series of numbers to verify that the content displayed matches the original record.

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Accredible Announces Global Team Expansion

12 October 2020 – Accredible, the leading digital credentialing platform, announced today the global expansion of its Support, Product Engineering, Sales, and Marketing teams to service increasing demand for digital credentialing software.

“This year was a catalyst for unprecedented growth at Accredible,” said Duncan Mitchinson, VP Sales. “Organizations are undertaking digital transformation on a new scale, shifting the way they think about certification and realizing the value digital credentials provide for recipients and issuers.”

“We’ve significantly increased our Account Management and Support teams,” said Jennifer Baca, VP Customer Success. “We can now provide more dedicated resources to focus on customer success, and continue to improve our support for customers and prospects of all sizes.”

“This expansion demonstrates Accredible’s ongoing commitment to continuous growth and unrivaled quality,” said Danny King, Founder and CEO. “Offering work from home flexibility allowed us to tap into remote areas and source incredible talent. That talent, especially the new Support and Engineering team members, will ensure Accredible is ready for another year of strong growth.”

About Accredible
Accredible is the industry-leading digital credentialing platform that securely issues, manages, tracks, and verifies millions of high-stakes credentials across the globe. Accredible integrates with leading learning software including Canvas, D2L Brightspace, Kajabi, Kryterion Webassessor, Moodle, Thinkific, and more. Over 1,000 leading Universities, associations, and technology companies such as Google, Skillsoft, Rosetta Stone, University of Cambridge, NACE, Zendesk, Hootsuite, IEEE, McGraw-Hill, INSEAD, IAPP, UC Berkeley, and The Digital Marketing Institute rely on Accredible to create, deliver and manage digital certificates and open badges. Learn more at accredible.com.

Frontend Software Engineer – Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK

Apply: https://accredible.breezy.hr/p/7eddccc92171-software-engineer

Accredible is a growing, venture-backed technology startup in the digital credentialing space seeking a spirited and detail-oriented Frontend Software Engineer.

Key info at a glance:

  • Job Title: Frontend Software Engineer
  • Primary Functions: To create and maintain the functionality of the Accredible User on all customer facing and internal products according to pre-prepared designs.
  • Hours: Flexible hours / remote work for up to 2 days per week (we’re flexible on times and places)
  • Reporting to: CTO
  • Location: Ely (near Cambridge)
  • Start date: As soon as possible.

We welcome people of any gender identity or expression, race, skin color, ethnicity, age, size, nationality, sexual orientation, neurotype, religion, elder status, family structure, culture, subculture, political views, identity, and self-identification. We welcome parents (40% of our team have kids), teachers, learners, activists, artists, dreamers, doers, ordinary people, extraordinary people, and everyone in between. We stand for equal opportunity, and we ensure equal pay.

The Role

This role is a Frontend Software Engineer. Accredible has a number of web properties such as www.credential.net and dashboard.accredible.com which you’ll be building and maintaining on a daily basis. These web platforms are used by millions of people each year. Our customers expect reliability, stability and speed. You’ll be pushing updates every day to improve our codebase and be able to see instant feedback from our customers & users.

Your primary responsibility will be the recipient facing, high traffic web property which enables certificates and badges to be viewed. You’ll be working with a QA Engineer to ensure this property is highly accessible, properly localised and fast to load.

We use AngularJS today and are in the process of planning our migration to Angular. Our approach is Agile and we stick to a weekly sprint cadence. We host web properties on Netlify and have some tough requirements such as localization, accessibility and pre-rendering.

You won’t be doing this alone as we have a world-class product team you’ll be working with. You’ll have support from a designer, a lead front-end engineer, a number of senior back-end engineers and our Chief Technology Officer will be responsible for the work that you do. We’ll be expecting high quality work but don’t worry – you’ll receive constructive feedback and guidance on a regular basis. We meet every day and everybody has input and the ability to make our work and the way we work better.

You’ll have a lot of decision making power, autonomy and trust. We make decisions democratically and give team members the time, resource and authority to work on what they think is most important.

This is a fantastic opportunity to join a fast growing, profitable startup where there are many opportunities to obtain promotions based upon merit, hard work and dedication.

We’re looking for an in-person candidate to work from our UK office in Ely, Cambridgeshire.

Compensation & Benefits

  • £45,000+ salary.
  • Time off each week to focus on your growth or volunteering, plus a learning budget.
  • 28 days per year paid time off.
  • Mentorship opportunities from our CTO, lead front-end engineer, designer & senior back-end engineers for personal growth.
  • Company off-sites such as international retreats.
  • Flexible working time and hours, depending on ongoing projects.

 

Your skills & competencies

We are looking for you to demonstrate to us that you have these skills & competencies:

  • Angular 2+ experience. You will have used the latest version of Angular professionally for at least 2 years.
  • Frontend Web technologies experience. You have been developing with HTML, CSS and Javascript for at least 4 years.
  • Domain expertise. You have an applied knowledge of frontend design, development and testing and have an understanding of the issues involved in accessibility and localisation.
  • Learns quickly. You have the ability to quickly absorb and make use of new information. You can research best practices and make use of them.
  • Enthusiastic. You want to learn and grow, are excited to take on new challenges.
  • Independent Problem solving. You are able to independently solve difficult technical and presentational problems and provide solutions or work arounds. You ask for help when you need it but try to solve things yourself.
  • Attention to detail. You don’t let important details slip through the cracks.
  • Organization & Planning. You plan, organize and schedule in an efficient manner. You know which priorities are important and choose to work on those. You don’t need constant input but are able to ask for help when needed.

It’s essential that you’re honest, have a high level of integrity, are able to communicate and are able to use feedback to learn and develop professionally.

 

Apply: https://accredible.breezy.hr/p/7eddccc92171-software-engineer

ThePowerMBA launches digital credentials with Accredible

Accredible today announced it has partnered with ThePowerMBA to bring digital certificates and badges to business professionals all over the globe. Accredible is excited to partner with ThePowerMBA as they continue to expand their online presence throughout the world, driven by their vision of becoming the first truly global business school.

 

“Accredible has been an amazing tool to promote our program organically, being our students’ best ambassadors,” said Rafael Gozalo, co-CEO and co-founder of ThePowerMBA.

“ThePowerMBA continues their strong history of innovation in the business education space by bringing their certifications into a secure, modern digital format,“ said Danny King, CEO of Accredible. “This will allow their graduates to showcase their achievements online on places like LinkedIn to further bolster their professional reputations.”

 

Read full press release here.

NACE International and the NACE International Institute Launch Digital Credentialing with Accredible

Accredible today announced it has partnered with The National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) and the NACE International Institute to bring digital membership badges and digital certification credentials and certificates to NACE members and NACE Institute certification holders. Accredible is excited to partner with NACE and the NACE Institute as they move away from traditional methods of membership and certification credentials to a modern digital format.

 

“As an organization, we are proud to offer our certification holders this newest benefit for their credentialing. Just as you can perform banking transactions on your phone, so should you be able to verify your professional credentials,” says Keenan Loubser, NACE Institute Chief Operating Officer. “And as the value of the certifications have increased, so too has the attempts at producing fraudulent certification instruments. Digital badging will protect the value of a certification for the person who truly earned it.”

 

“By bringing their NACE Institute certificates and NACE membership cards into a digital format, NACE continues a long trend of leadership and digital transformation in professional training and certification,” said Danny King, CEO of Accredible. “We are excited to work with NACE to showcase their members’ qualifications in a modern, secure format.”

Read full the press release here.