How to create an online certification program

by | Jun 8, 2022 | Articles

Level up! Level up! Level up!

Those lyrics by Ciara are as relevant as they come; the demand for online certification programs is at an all-time high. Employees are keen on gaining expertise in different areas to ensure steady professional development. And, companies, on the other hand, are eager to produce certification programs for their employees and audience to drive engagement. 

Take these stats for example: 

Online certification programs can be internal, external or educational. Examples of popular certification programs include everything from digital marketing and cybersecurity to cloud architecture and project management. 

Maybe you are interested in creating an online certification program that provides in-depth knowledge in a specific area of your industry. Or perhaps you want to establish yourself as the de facto expert in your industry. 

And, in the absence of a guide, creating an online certification program can provide an opportunity that won’t demand physical attendance, will allow students to learn at their own pace and will track students’ progress and even test their comprehension of the lessons.

Sure, it sounds like a lot of coordination. But, rest easy. We’ll take you through the process of how to create a successful online certification program. Let’s dive in!   

The benefits of an online certification program

Online certification programs are important  to the program creator, employees who take the programs and even their employers because:

  • They help employees attain further professional development.
  • The digital badge and certificate flaunt employees’ newly acquired expertise.
  • Such programs boost workforce qualification which triggers an increase in productivity and profitability. 
  • Certification programs build brand awareness for the creator and help create a community of loyal followers.
  • They serve as additional sources of revenue if the creator monetises them.
  • Online certification programs position the creator’s brand as a thought leader and boost their credibility in their industry.
  • They can help the creator educate their employees on the brand’s standards and procedures.  

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How to create and run an online certification program

Since online certification programs can require a lot of planning and coordination, the utmost care is necessary when creating them. Here are seven proven ways to seamlessly create and run a solid online certification program.   

1. Determine your goals

The first step in creating and running an online certification program is to ascertain what exactly you want to achieve. This ensures your investment of time and money won’t be an exercise in futility. Also, it guarantees that all your efforts will be geared towards your target and that the program will yield dividends.

To establish your goals, you should consider:

  • How the program will support your organisation
  • The state of your industry and the necessity of such a program 
  • Persons who need the online certification program – Who, exactly, is your audience?
  • What you hope to accomplish through the certification program, which could be greater brand awareness, increased reputation in your industry or even the dissemination of knowledge     

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2. Develop the syllabus

The syllabus is the skeletal framework of the online certification program. It outlines all the relevant information about the program so it’s necessary to take utmost care when building it. The essence of the syllabus lies in the fact that it makes an impression on the students, sets the tone and communicates expectations. 

To effectively develop the syllabus, some considerations include: 

  • The learning objectives and student takeaways
  • How detailed do you want the program to be
  • The timeframe for  program completion 
  • Whether it should be one course or multiple courses
  • The course description
  • Your mode of assessment upon completion of the course(s)
  • Relevant information about the instructor(s)

As you develop the syllabus, it’s crucial to make it engaging. Lace it with questions to pique the students’ interest and explain that they’ll be able to answer those questions as they progress through the program.

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3. Create engaging learning materials and questions 

The learning materials and questions that students consume are the meat of the online certification program. Therefore, after creating a curriculum that details the content of the program, proceed to create the actual content. For this step, you should engage reputable professionals in your industry who will provide in-depth learning materials and questions. 

And, consider using various mediums for your content, such as video, audio and engaging PDFs or slides.

Your instructors could be professionals in the industry or members of your own team.  Having reputable instructors boosts the credibility of your certification program and VIPS can help attract your target audience to the program.

It’s important to assess the content and learning materials for validity and accuracy. It would be disappointing to find out that certain pieces of information in the program are inaccurate. I cringe at the idea of a teacher who doesn’t know their stuff. 

Additionally, the course content should be directly tied to the learning objectives. As for the questions, they should only be on matters actually taught in the courses. Also, they should be framed in ways that will sufficiently test the students’ comprehension of the lessons.     

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4. Refine the delivery of the program

The next step is to decide how you want the students to access the program. Since it’s an “online” certification program, it should be available to them online. This eliminates the need for in-person classroom attendance and makes it possible for them to learn anywhere, any time and at any pace. 

That’s not all. As a creator of a certification program, one thing you don’t want is to lose your students’ attention as they go through the content of the program. 

What to do?

Use videos.

Take this stat as proof: 72% of survey respondents said they’d rather learn about a subject via video. Also, people are 95% more likely to retain information when it’s conveyed via video. 

The visual content should be of good quality and filled with elements to capture attention for the duration of the program. Furthermore, ensure that the program and its content are mobile-friendly; with 80% of the world using smartphones and engaging in informal learning daily on the device, mobile-friendly content is practically required. 

Think about it. In real-life learning environments, teachers don’t just waltz into the class, deliver lectures and zoom off. If you happen to meet a teacher that acts that way, I dare say they aren’t good teachers. Naturally, as they enter their classrooms, they take attendance and as they teach, they ensure that the students grasp the lessons.

Similarly, your online certification program should enable you and your students to track their progress and evaluate their performance. This implies that you have to incorporate an efficient learning management system. While the learning management system helps with monitoring the students’ progress, it also makes the hosting and accessing of the content seamless for all and sundry.

These practices will erase any hassle from the process of creating and running your online program.     

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5. Utilise reliable certification management software

As you create your online certification program, you want to ensure that your students have an impressive experience. To achieve that goal, you need a tool that manages the program and helps with the assessment of the students’ performance. After all, the learning and evaluation process won’t occur in a vacuum. 

Reliable software can help you manage your program with ease. In addition to giving your brand a good look, the software can also preserve your program’s integrity through a transparent and defined evaluation process. 

Award Force can help with your program’s management and evaluation needs.     

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6. Announce and launch the online certification program

The certificate program was created for a reason. Keeping quiet about it won’t fetch the desired results. Thus, you should generate some buzz about the online certification program, dropping hints about its contents, the benefits of taking it and when it will launch.

This will capture your target audience’s attention and keep their eyes peeled for the program.   

You can effectively spread the word using your :

  • Organisation’s website
  • Your company’s social media profiles
  • Newsletters 
  • Ads on social media and search engines 

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7. Constantly evaluate and update your program

When it comes to creating and running an online certification program, the journey doesn’t end with the launch. Speedy and continuous improvement are hallmarks of great management. Therefore, your certification program is only as good as its evaluation and maintenance.

Run regular and thorough checks to ensure that its contents are up to date and still valid. If some ideas are outdated, be sure to delete and update them as appropriate. Revisit and rework the questions when necessary.

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Online certification programs can be a very effective tool to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and provide incredible value to your target audience. The tips above will help ensure that your program is well-packaged for your learners and regularly pruned to meet industry standards.       

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