Using SharePoint for certification support

I recently attended a Brandon Hall webinar (see here for slides) about social media for learning, where they used three interesting case studies:

  • Chrysler have a social media site, the Chrysler Academy aimed at providing a community for dealer personnel who take certification programs. They’ve found it a faster way to get information to the dealers and helpful to build a community.
  • Hewlett Packard built an Enterprise Sales Fitness Center aimed at sales professionals with discussion boards, surveys and more. HP used SharePoint and saved US$7,500 per learner vs formal training and got better reaction from their users.
  • Cisco have a social media site, the Cisco Learning Network, which gives study tools, blogs, learning resources and a community for people studying for Cisco certifications (see screenshot below). It aims to increase the number of successful certification takers.

cisco learning network

Cisco and Chrysler do not use SharePoint, but the case studies prompt the idea that using SharePoint for a site aimed at certification takers is a promising route. A certification support site is especially valuable if you are using certification for partner or consultant verification or for employees or others in your ecosystem. It may be less appropriate for regulatory or open exams, where there is less value to a community.

Some capabilities of SharePoint which lend themselves to a certification or assessment support site:

  • Easily host practice tests and practice items
  • Easily host surveys and polls
  • Discussion board to allow people to share experiences
  • Ability to store profiles and allow mentoring connections
  • Blogs and wikis
  • Tag and rate resources to help others
  • Industry leading search to find resources
  • Appropriate security trimming to control who can see what

And of course SharePoint is easy to use and doesn’t need a lot of technical skills to set up a site, and many organizations may have it deployed already.

A certification support site could change certification from being an individual pursuit to being more of a community experience.  It is consistent with the International Test Commission Guidelines on internet-delivered testing in the area of “Provide help , information, and practice items within the CBT/Internet test”. And a SharePoint certification support site encourage candidates to share permitted information within an officially supported site, rather than in unofficial sites which run the risk of allowing cheating. And where the purpose of your certification is to encourage learning, it allows participants to share expertise and help make learning an everyday event.

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