Last week I had the good fortune to go to an external course as a participant for a change. I enjoy these experiences for the networking opportunities with my L&D peers as much as for the learning opportunity. The two-day course was just a starter to the topic and there was more than a little pressure to sign-up for the “certification program” for three days the following week. At a bargain cost of several thousand dollars of course.
This experience got me thinking about all of the “accreditation” and “certification” programmes I’ve been on over the years. The quality varies but overall the experience is the same. After an initial period of excitement at the possibilities of a new programme you start to pull it apart and work out which parts you actually want to use. This is, naturally, frowned upon by whichever company accredited you who usually want you to buy all of the necessary paraphernalia from their extended version.
After years of observation I have compiled a list of a few things to consider when looking at completing an accreditation for any particular training course/model:
- Is this one of those programs where you can’t run the content any other way? An example of this is one organisation I’ve come across that licences their models to an organisation for an annual fee and does train-the-trainer as part of the deal. The only way to use the model it to pay the licence.
- Will you really run the program often enough to warrant the investment in the accreditation? Sometimes the next big thing in training can seem really exciting and you want to jump on the bandwagon. Before you sign-up though make sure that this is a program or tool that you will actually use. There are two points about this. The first is that it needs to be worth the, often substantial, investment. Secondly, if you don’t get to run the program often enough you will lose the skills and knowledge you acquired in the course through lack of use.
- Are the tools/materials that you need to buy post-accreditation expensive? I have looked in to a few accreditations where the actual coursework in reasonably priced but the measurement tools cost a small fortune per participant. Be cautious about this and always ask what the materials are worth upfront. Its also worth checking how difficult they may be to get hold of. Can you order online or do you need to do it all by phone or fax?
- Is the theory/tool available in some other format? One thing that always amazes me is that some organisations will charge a fortune for models that are available in the public domain but try to convince you otherwise. Often what oyu are really paying for is to learn to use their version of it and run their version of the program. DiSC is a good example of this where the theory and model are freely available, it is the measurement tool that varies and that’s what you’re paying to be accredited for. It also pays to be aware of current theories. I’ve seen many a program in an aspect of positive psychology that claims to have the exclusive rights but, in fact, much of this stuff is published and freely available in the public domain.
It’s important as an L&D professional to understand copyright and intellectual property. IP is the bread and butter of the training world and it’s important to respect that. Just remember that you may have other options before shelling out the big bucks. Do your homework to make sure the program will suit your needs and the needs of the organisation and happy learning!