Paper Certificates are not visible to anyone but you. Maybe it’s time for digital badges.

Are paper certificates dead. Is it time for digital badges instead.

Patricia Diaz lives in a pretty rural area outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee. When she says rural, she means that there are three cow farms and a goat farm within walking distance of her house. And none of them are swinging by her office on a regular basis to see what she’s up to.

In fact, the only people who actually see the diplomas and certificates hanging on her office wall are her kids and husband. And none of them are that impressed by her accomplishments. Alright maybe her husband is, but her kids are mostly just concerned about fruit snacks.

She writes mostly in jest, but the sentiment is true. She worked hard for both degrees and her Social Media Strategist certification. But if anyone outside her immediate family wanted to validate what she was capable of doing, they’d have to take her word for it. Even then, they’d have to call two different registrars offices and a professional association for confirmation that she actually completed her qualifications. On the other hand, if all of her degrees and certificates were in a digital format, she could easily share those with others whenever she needed. She could send them to potential employers, colleagues, and other professional connections without having to involve a third party.

Twitter recently announced that they’re allowing their employees to work from home indefinitely. In a post-pandemic world, that’s a trend we’re likely going to see from organisations around the world. All of those employees, who are capable, intelligent, and hardworking, are going to have to go above and beyond. They are going to have to prove that they are skilled and hardworking since their home offices are probably just that – in their homes.

Maybe it’s time to ditch the paper certificates once and for all. Perhaps it’s time to allow people to own proof of their own learning and achievements. And most importantly, maybe now is the time to issue digital badges as proof and recognition of that learning and achievement. Unlike paper certificates, whose only purpose is to currently hang on a wall in a corner of a home office, digital credentials can be shared via social media or in an email signature. Digital badges are verified with full context of what someone can do and are backed by extensive metadata.

Is it time for your organisation to move to a digital badge format? Maybe even in conjunction with paper certificates until you’re really ready to embrace the full capabilities of a Digital Credentialing Program.

If you would like to read more about implementing digital credentials in your organisation, check out our Guides. Or contact us to find out more.

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This post has been adapted from an article that originally appeared on the Credly website “No one can see your paper certificates” (posted on Credly blog by Patricia Diaz).