With COVID-19 affecting every aspect of life, e-learning platforms and online certification courses & exams are being increasingly sought by students and professionals worldwide. If you are looking to offer a first-rate certification program, or if you are just curious about how online certification tests work, you are at the right place. With the advent of intelligent technology, offering customized certification programs is now easier than ever for organizations globally.
This blog will take you through the following topics:
What is an Online Certification Program?
An online certification program is a course that offers knowledge and skills in a particular field and is designed to be delivered online. They can be broadly categorized into Software Certifications (SAAS Certification, Oracle certification, Microsoft certification, etc.), Industry Certifications (Awarded by industry bodies and usable anywhere in the world where these standards are followed) and Educational Certifications (Awarded by universities).
In some professions, certification is a requirement for employment or practice. Today, hundreds of online courses that vary in terms of the time taken to complete the course, the cost incurred, the mode of delivery, etc. are available across e-learning platforms.
These programs help individuals carry on learning at a time when physical classrooms are no longer feasible. As for the institutions, the courses and tests are a way to maintain business continuity while adhering to the social distancing norms. Top institutions across the world now offer their own, cost-effective tailored programs to interested individuals for skills development and career growth.
Online certification is also highly recommended for individuals who do not wish to pursue studies towards a degree but look forward to a career that requires specific certifications, like medical assistants, nursing assistants, electricians, IT specialists, and the like. Even when certification is not required to enter a profession, employers value professionals who proactively seek opportunities to develop their skills and expertise.
Benefits of Moving Certification Online | Institutions
If you are on the fence about moving your certification process online, there are a myriad of benefits that you can consider, which does not end at just brand awareness.
Business continuity - COVID-19 has left many institutions and certifying bodies scrambling to maintain business continuity. Moving the courses and certification testing online can ensure these organizations continue functioning in a lean and efficient manner without burning through their cash reserves. Organizations that wish to train their current employees to adapt to the changing global conditions can also leverage online programs and improve their credibility.
Global reach - Though universities are moving their admissions process online, when it comes to classroom learning, there are only so many people a university can admit. Social distancing practices will also certainly limit the number of physical students and test-takers allowed to congregate in a single room or sit for an exam. Online certification tests can help widen the horizon and reach learners across geographies. There are no space constraints in a virtual learning environment.
Bigger community of advocates - With an online certification program, organizations can provide knowledge and skills to a more significant number of individuals, which, in turn, leads to a bigger community of learners who can become advocates of the courses offered by them. Organizations such as Adobe, Microsoft, and trade groups also promote themselves as global thought leaders by providing online certifications & exams in the field of their expertise.
Multiple courses, One platform - The diversity in the number of courses available online is one of the prominent reasons why digital natives prefer online certification courses. Institutions can provide hundreds of courses in one place without any hassles. One can choose multiple courses that interest them, appear for online exams, and get certified in no time. They’ll also learn valuable skills that they can take with them throughout their career.
Remote proctored assessments - Conducting exams are possibly one of the biggest challenges when it comes to certifications. A traditional setup would involve hours of setting up logistics, distributing or printing thousands of instructions or answer sheets, leveraging a team of human proctors, , and grading the exams. On the other hand, online exams can be taken anywhere, require minimal human participation, and can be evaluated on the go. Advanced technologies like remote proctoring help ensure the integrity of the tests is maintained.
Better management of learners - Moving courses and exams online requires a systematic approach. Unlike the traditional learning process, online certification programs ensure a smoother on-boarding with flexible payment options, easier customization of courses, secure assessment of assignments and tests, instant e-certification, and advanced analysis of the enrolled pupil. Compared to their traditional counterparts, learners appearing for online programs are easier to manage as all data pertaining to their performance in the course and the exams can be found on the same platform in a streamlined manner.
Reduced administrative & Operational costs - Online certification programs can prove to be a boon to institutions that are trying to keep their expenses minimal. It helps save time, efforts, and money spent on logistics, infrastructure & maintenance, which, in a traditional setup, can be quite a lot.
Benefits of an Online Certification Program | Learner
While institutions are making a shift online, the driving reason for the shift is the increasing demand for e-learning and online certification programs from learners. Online learning has many benefits when compared to classroom learning. Here's how online certification courses can help an individual:
Proof of competency & professional credibility - Online courses and certification exams are a sure-shot way to provide proof of competency and entrance into fruitful IT, Healthcare, Trade, and other careers. It is a way to let employers know how well-equipped one is with the skills necessary to excel in a particular job role. It also gives out the message that the person believes in continual learning and upskilling. When employers are interviewing, the competition is often stiff. If one has a certification, and the other person does not, they are at a definite advantage.
Global courses at home - Be it certification from the International Maritime Organization, the IBM Customer Engagement Specialist Professional Certificate or the IT Project Management Certification from the University of Washington, interested individuals can take up any class they want from the comfort of their homes. They can attend lectures and work on assignments sent to them online, with no need to navigate through traffic, leave work early for class, or miss family time.
Global exams at home - Now more than ever, it is important for people to sit for secure and reliable digital exams on their own devices in their own homes. With new-age technology like automated remote proctoring and AI-led identity validation, detecting cheating, and protecting the integrity of assessments is an easy task for organizations.
Upskill at own Pace - One of the most important benefits of an online certification program is the ability to manage one's schedule. While many courses will likely have specific deadlines for assignments and exams, the learner will be fully in control of the majority of their study time.
Networking - An added benefit of online certification programs is the number of professionals in related fields that are likely to be enrolled together or part of a LinkedIn group, providing a plethora of opportunities to connect and engage with like-minded individuals.
Here’s How You Can Do It
While designing the course curriculum or certification exam is best done by the institutions and test development firms, experienced technology vendors can put together a robust mechanism to ensure a seamless transition to online certification programs. Some of the solutions that can help are listed below.
Remote Assessments - With commuting becoming risky, it is now nearly impossible to conduct traditional classroom exams to test people's skills. Remote assessments ensure that the evaluation of the learners is done at a place and time of their convenience. These tools see to it that the process is systematic and scientific, ensuring only the learners with the required skills and competencies get certified. Online assessments are also customizable according to the needs of the institution, like multiple choice questions, essay type questions, coding assessments, and the like.
Automated scheduling - In traditional offline certification programs, the test takers have to travel to the test venue, and the test organizers have to manage logistics, all of which cost a lot of time and money. An online certification program gives way to automated test scheduling, where the candidate can choose from multiple test slots. The test organizers are empowered with tools that allow them to manage an extensive candidate database, send and manage test invites, assign slots, and deliver the test in bulk systematically.
Test monitoring through Remote proctoring - Advanced technology like remote proctoring makes sure the integrity of the test is not compromised, while also avoiding security breaches of any kind. Remote proctoring can be done in three ways: Live proctoring, Automated proctoring, and Recorded proctoring.
Live proctoring refers to a method where a human proctor observes the test taker from the start of the test until the end and reports any suspicious behavior that can be considered as cheating. Recorded proctoring on the other hand is when the video of the test is recorded for the entire duration and later reviewed by a human proctor post the test completion. But this can be time-consuming and not completely secure in a work-from-home scenario due to possible security breaches. Hence, moving to automated remote proctoring is ideal.
Automated proctoring is when the software is activated just before the test taker starts the test. The software is integrated with the certification platform. It assesses the test taker’s behavior and flags it if it detects suspicious behavior. Talview's automated online remote proctoring includes face detection, voice check, copy/paste blocking, test access restrictions, secure browser question watermarking, and more to help prevent cheating and ensure 100% integrity.
Features such as automated identity validation can additionally help ensure no malpractice takes place. It allows the test-takers to upload valid identity proofs that can be validated using automation, hence reducing the hassle of manual identity verification. Talview's AI Facial & Voice Recognition and automated ID validation helps detect impersonation and avoid fraudulence.
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