Disclaimer: Given the propriety nature of the work done during my time with DIGARC, I am only able to speak in broad, general terms and can not give specific examples or details.

Nearly eight years ago, my former employer decided we would pull together a conference. I believe we started in October for a conference that we would deliver in the spring. That alone was a tall order – and apart from the fact that public speaking was one of my greatest fears, we were starting down the path of creating a certification program.

In the first year, given the monumental task that creating a conference turned out to be, the first iteration of the program became a few sessions I had to deliver and was granted upon the participants attendance. It was popular, and it was well-attended, but after that first year, I couldn’t help but think we needed to raise the bar.

I spoke with many of the attendees, and I did some further research on certification programs delivered at conferences, and compared that to programs delivered by other companies such as Microsoft, and wondered how we could get there.

So for the following year, a test was created. Conference attendees would attend the sessions, be provided with handouts as a review, and then asked to take a written test based on those sessions, with a minimum score required. Bar – raised.

Still, I felt we could do better. It was hand-graded, which meant at times, it was possible for mistakes to be made, and it was incredibly time-consuming to create and to grade.

Every year I continued to listen to feedback and continue researching for better options and improve upon the process – each year it became faster to administer, and easier to grade – but the best year happened when we implemented WalkMe and it’s included application, TeachMe.

TeachMe allowed me the ability to create Courses directly in the applications – it would no longer need to be a simple written test (which comprised mostly of multiple choice, or definition style questions) but I could deliver an actual, practical exam! I was able to build in exercises which would ask the user to perform a task, and then use the program to determine when it was done correctly. While the build time was certainly lengthy, it would later save us a tremendous amount of time in grading and be able to deliver the score as soon as the user completed the exam.

It was a 7-year iteration that helped to evolve the program, thanks to all of the feedback provided, and the hundreds of clients who took and passed it. While it was at times, very stressful to update each year, it was also a labor of love – it was important to me to ensure that earning that badge each year would have merit, and not just a piece of paper.

I am saddened that I won’t be around to work on this year’s certification, and I couldn’t sign off on them for this year. I hope those left behind care about it as much as I did, and that it continues to develop and improve each year moving forward.

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