Why do associations take on certification and credentialing programs? The answer is pretty straightforward: to bring additional value to their members and to their organizations. Certifications and credentialing enhance knowledge and provide members with expertise validation. This, in turn, can advance their careers through new jobs, promotions, or raises. Association-run certification programs are an investment in your members and set standards for the entire industry.
Whether you hold a certification or work in the credentialing world, you know that this year has been a whirlwind (well, you may not need to be in the certification world to know that). These programs have undergone sweeping changes in 2020, with many pivoting to online testing.
Making the Shift
Up until this year, many associations conducted testing in person. As more and more testing centers closed down due to the pandemic, it was imperative that our association clients continue providing these services to their memberships. Moving to a virtual format – even temporarily – would allow that. Our association management team successfully and quickly transitioned several clients to an online certification program.
Among the challenges was exam security. How do you ensure people aren’t tempted to cheat when there isn’t a proctor there to watch? Can you be sure that a person is who they say they are? How do you proctor a virtual class? These are only a few of the questions to answer, and answer quickly. Our credentialing programs now incorporate detailed plans for remote proctoring and security. Components of these security plans include making sure that the test taker has a camera, that they show their desks, and in some cases, even the larger room environment around them.
We’ve addressed a wide range of challenges, from adding more online support to make sure candidates can login, perform system checks, identify camera or software needs; to navigating the complexities of test takers across different time zones.
Even as testing centers slowly reopen, most exams are still being held online. The good news is that this format results in some great opportunities: more accessibility and flexibility, even lower costs in some areas. Many programs will continue to use remote proctoring and virtual exams, resulting in dual options for associations and their candidates, that are both safe and successful.
In the meantime, our advice? Continue to be flexible and get creative to meet the needs of your candidates and members. And, if you’re not sure where to start, we can help.