Online certificates are quickly rising in popularity. They help individual employees increase and showcase their expertise in a specialized field while contributing to professional development efforts. Through improvements in technology, it is possible for corporations of all sizes to offer their own, tailored certification programs.
Of course, simply putting together a PowerPoint presentation and finishing it up with a few multiple choice questions is not enough. A better understanding of how online certificate programs benefit both employees and their employers helps provide you with the motivation to engage in this comprehensive, rewarding undertaking.
How Online Certificates Benefit Employees
Almost 90% of millennials consider professional development and career growth opportunities very important. Additionally, almost 70% of the entire workforce considers training and development documents the most important workplace policy. An online certification program helps satisfy both of these areas in a number of ways, including:
- Targeted pathways to professional development.
- An organizational emphasis on improvement.
- A ‘badge’ process that helps participants showcase their newfound expertise.
All of these aspects of a certificate program will help satisfy and retain employees while giving your business the added benefit of a better qualified and prepared workforce as well.
How Online Certification Benefit Employers
Employees who are more engaged in professional development will become more engaged, qualified, and ultimately more productive. This is especially true for compliance certifications, which might be necessary for specialized jobs in the financial, healthcare, and manufacturing industries. But the advantages don’t end there. Certification programs can also increase your profitability by setting your front-facing employees apart in the eyes of customers because of the additional training they received through the certificate program.
Third, you have the opportunity to open up your certificate program to external audiences beyond your employees. Now, the benefits begin to branch even further:
- Build brand awareness to professionals in the field, who might become future customers or employees.
- Add a new revenue stream by adding an e-commerce element to the certificate program.
- Increase authority and credibility in your field by positioning yourself as a thought leader in the topic of the certificate.
Whether the program is open to the larger community or limited to your employees, you will build a community in its participants. The result is greater company loyalty, longer employee tenures, and increased customer revenues.
3 Steps to Create a Great Online Certificate Program
Of course, the advantages above sound great. Build the right program, and both your company and your employees can benefit significantly. But how do you get to that point?
Creating a great certificate program requires a strategic plan that will take you from the beginning of the process all the way through the implementation, and beyond. With these 3 steps, you can create a great online certificate program that benefits everyone involved.
1. Define Your Focus
This stage in the process makes sure that you take the program in the right direction and that you will be getting the most return on your investment in the program. Some questions to start with:
Who is this certificate program for?
What do you want them to get out of it?
How will this help further the goals of the company?
Keep in mind that you can start with a few certificates in areas that are most needed, and would provide the most benefit, then grow the program from there.
2. Build the Curriculum
Once you have defined the focus of your certification, decide how comprehensive you want the certificate to be. Answering that question helps you define whether or not you are looking at a single “course” that focuses on one specific topic, or a multi-course certificate. Consider the total time spent to certification, as well as the ways in which you will test the learned knowledge at the end. At this point, you should also decide who will be the creator and/or teacher of the course. You might have an internal expert easily available, or draw from outside expertise. Either way, find a professional who is inherently credible to your audience to maximize effectiveness.
3. Optimize the Delivery Method
Finally, it’s time to think about the exact channels through which you plan to deliver the curriculum. This step is often overlooked, but absolutely crucial to the success of your online certificate program. Meet them where they are, which means visual content delivered in a mobile-friendly way.
Simply uploading and hosting a piece of content will not be sufficient. You need a way to track your learners, give access to the courses, assess if they earn the certificate and administer that certificate. Here is where a Learning Management System (LMS) enters into the equation.
A well-fitting LMS helps to streamline the delivery of the certification program, allowing you and your students to track their progress and dynamically access new modules. The right LMS also helps you track the success of your program. You can easily determine the total number of participants, and how many of them actually complete the certification. That, in turn, allows you to make adjustments to improve the user experience to maximize successful participation and completions.
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