Thanks to technology, it’s never been easier to adopt a lifelong learning habit. Some of us have one and don’t even know it.
Consider the customer service rep who scours the Internet to find old manuals that hold the answers for customers who call in with difficult questions. Every piece of gathered data improves her chances of serving well, which, in turn, increases her value.
Every industry has this version of the stereotypical go-getter. Journalists who master new research databases are learners. Machinists who figure out how to retool an assembly line are learners. And schoolteachers who spend summers digging through curriculum research are as much learners as the students they serve each fall.
Others graduate from spot-learning to formalized training. Sources range from sophisticated catalog operators such as lynda.com to association and corporate-led certification programs, to institutionally sponsored Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. Which should you choose? Start with a program that not only fits your schedule, but also suits your learning style.
Then, make sure there’s a digitally-available certificate awarded upon completion. You may need it to prove you’ve acquired the skills to advance to the next level in your career.
The Increasing Importance of Stacking
Think of it like a video game, with new skills acting like power-ups that make you stronger and able to achieve more. The more skills you stack together, the more valuable you become to a prospective employer.
Certificates represent real life power-ups in the same way that onscreen icons represent power-ups in a video game. Having more is usually better, but it’s the combinations that make the biggest difference.
Say you’re a young network technician who one day dreams of becoming a Chief Information Officer. Adding Microsoft and Oracle certifications to your existing Cisco certification is a must, but to that you may also want to add some certified expertise large-scale systems administration and perhaps an MBA from a well-known technical university.
That’s stacking in order to climb the information technology career ladder. Dozens more industries are developing similar stacks to guide ambitious learners.
Not All Credentials Are Created Equal
While there are hundreds or even thousands of ways to add skills, employers usually want proof of learned expertise. That’s where verified credentials come in.
More than a PDF, a verified digital credential can only be issued by the organization whose brand it bears. At Parchment, we use Adobe blue-ribbon technology in combination with our platform innovations to provide this functionality to high schools and universities today.
Over time, we expect thousands of trainers, corporations, and associations will use the technology to provide their own forms of verified credentials to learners so that they can be easily shared with prospective employers.
Even Non-Artists Need a Portfolio
Simple, secure sharing is the ultimate promise of digital credentials and a learner’s best ally in climbing the career ladder.
To get there, we’ll first need a central place where entire stacks of verified credentials can be collected and stored. We’ll soon have news about how we’re improving the Parchment Credential Profile to serve this purpose. Think of it as a vault that holds a lifetime of stacked expertise that you’ll carry and build upon throughout your career.
Are you stacking credentials? To what end? Leave a comment to tell us your story. And if you’d like more information about creating your free, personal credential profile, or if you’re an institution looking to offer digital credentials to your constituents, get in touch now. We’d love to hear from you.