Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Birth of a Certification for Instructional Designers and Developers (IDs)

TIfPI has just published a infographic explaining “the birth of the instructional design and development certifications”. 

Have you ever wondered where certifications came from?  Where it’s value and authority come from?

If so, this infographic provides a view of the birth of a certification – specifically of the 
instructional design and development (ID) certifications. 

In the center notice the transition from blue to copper and the phrase “Certification Process”.For the applicant, this is their starting point.  However, in order to have a certification at all, 
the work below that line (the blue circles) must have occurred.  In fact, this underlying activity applies rigor and integrity to the discovery of the standards and performances that 
experts do and others may miss. 

Job, task, or practice analysis:  Many certifications are based on job/task analyzes that describe the job role, the work steps, work processes, and tools.  The underlying assumptions is that all incumbents do essentially the same tasks.  A practice analysis look across a wide range of venues to describe the common work.  In the case of instructional designers and developers (generically, IDs), some work in one-person shops, some in large firms with matrixed teams, in consulting houses that assign out IDs to their clients, and, meanwhile, other consultants are independent solo operations managing a small business (themselves) and providing ID services.  The venues vary significantly, which was the premise for The Institute for Performance Improvement selecting a practice analysis as the basis of the ID certifications. 

Defining Standards & Performances: A list of important areas comes out of the analysis.  These areas are weighted and ranked by experts and become standards (perhaps international standards, if the experts can speak for the internal audience). Each standard is defined and described in ways that allow practitioners and employers to recognize key performances.  The standards and performances become the basis for the assessment.  Many credentials use knowledge tests as their performance measure.  However, more and more credentials are using performance-based assessments, including the Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) by the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI, www.ispi.org) and the learning solution certifications by The Institute for Performance Improvement (TIfPI, www.tifpi.org).  The rigor of an analysis reviewed, weighted and ranked by experts, and refined into standards and performances creates the authority behind a certification. 

Updating:  This process must be repeated every 5-7 years in order to maintain the credential’s integrity and increases its authority in the work world that it addresses.

Certification Process:  Once the basic elements are available, each organization must create the mechanisms to support an application process, evaluate the candidate against standards, and determining whether an applicant has met certification criterion.  At this point, individuals who wish to be certified must be able to work their way through the processes to get their due reward – a certification mark.  Individuals submit applications, take tests and/or participate in performance assessments, and wait for the decision.  Meanwhile, experts review candidate’s performance against standards and determine whether the candidate meets those standards.  There must be processes in place for candidates to request exceptions, request review of decisions against them, and, perhaps even show that they have fulfilled requirements.

Exercising the Credential:  At this point, our candidate has been   certified as meeting standards.  He or she receives a mark of distinction to go with their credential and an explanation of how to exercise that mark.  With the advent of digital badges, an electronic icon called a badge may also be available.This icon can be placed  on social media, websites, blogs, email signatures, and any electronic media.  Individuals clicking on the badge icon will be taken to a credential verification website* to learn more about the credential and credential holder.

                * See whitepaper on certification verification and portfolio engines.

Maintaining the Credential:  Certification are awarded for 
a specific time period. It may be 1 year or 10 years, though 3-5 years intervals are more frequent.  At the end of that time, certification holders must renew their credential in order to be allowed to continue to exercise it.  This is called “maintaining the credential” and consists of one or more steps required to  renew the credential.  Continuing education and payment of a renewal fee are common requirements.  However, the renewal requirements are defined along with the standards and performance and have a direct relationship to the field’s standards.  Over time, as “updating” occurs and requirements for standards and performance change, certificate holders may be required to demonstrate new skills or show that they have not lost original skills.

The rest is in the details of the certification’s standards and performances. Each certification is unique and carries unique eligibility requirements, performance standards, and maintenance requirements. One of the unique aspects of the instructional design and development certification series is that all 17 learning solution development credentials use the same standards and rubrics for assessment, but expect different data describing particular learning solutions development projects.  That is, the 9 standards are the same for developing an asynchronous learning course and for developing an electronic performance support or coaching programs or independent studies or serious learning games. 

Check out those nine instructional design standards.  I’ve already written about three of the  standards – addressing sustainability, aligning the solution, and assessing learning performance – with more schedule in the coming weeks.. You may also wish to read up on how 

Can you see yourself as an instructional designer or developer certified in the development of one more learning solutions?  If so, you need to consider applying for a learning 
solutions development credential and digital badge.  Learn more at about TIfPI's 

Would you like to know about the study -- a practice analysis -- that TIfPI Practice Leaders did to generate and validate nine standards?  Visit www.tifpi.org.

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