Happy New Year! Did you set any goals for the year? One of mine is getting back to posting regularly to this blog! Much of the latter part of 2008 was consumed by work on getting the ASTM International Standard Practice for Certificate Programs adopted as an American National Standard (ANS)...and we're not there yet, but we are close. It has been an amazing learning opportunity for me as I've gotten to experience first-hand the steps and processes involved in getting a standard approved as an ANS.
Interestingly, back in 2006 I posted over at We Have Always Done It That Way:
"My point is that certificates are a distinct type of credentialing program warranting their own set of quality standards."
Little did I know how involved I would become in developing that standard!
The standard development process has presented both challenges and opportunities. The primary challenge has been the controversy -- primarily because both ASTM and NOCA were (are) developing independent standards. As an active member and supportive of NOCA, it has not been easy being on "the other team", but early on I made a decision about this and I still feel strongly I've made the right decision. Another challenge has been the time devoted to the effort. As the technical lead on the standard, it's been my job to be the author/editor -- that is, to rework the draft based on all the criticisms, questions, and suggestions. We've had three major revisions (based on the feedback obtained through the balloting process) plus for each negative vote that came in through that same process, if we (the lead subject matter experts) disagreed with it, we had to write a point-by-point rationale for ruling the comments not persuasive and put that back out to vote to the full committee. That made for a lot of discussion and writing time!
But it's been worth the effort because more important than the challenges, the opportunities presented are significant for all of us in the education, training and credentialing community! Also back in 2006 I wrote that for many industries it was time to rethink traditional certification. I believe many organizations that develop certification programs would be better served through a certificate program, but previously the concept of a certificate program was fuzzy and not well known. Now with the upcoming release of an American National Standard for certificate programs, that is about to change! I believe we are going to see a huge growth in the development of certificate programs, as more industries and organizations become aware of the certificate program model and opportunities presented. Certification is not and should not go away (although as I've discussed in the rethinking traditional certification post, many programs need a face-lift). Certification meets a real need to identify and recognize qualified professionals in many industries. Just as important, however, certificate programs offer a just-in-time model for organizations to address knowledge/skill deficits and to recognize individuals who've attained the specific knowledge/skill targeted.
There are only a handful of certificate programs (as defined by the standard, not including certificate of participation or certificate of attendance) in the association community. It's January and a time for predictions, right? I think we'll see an obvious growth (at least double) by the end of 2009. If your organization has a certificate program or is developing one, let me know so I can update this blog on progress and growth.