If There Were a Certification for Developing Certifications, Our Partners at Change by Design Would Get High Honors.  

Over the last couple of months, you’ve heard me and others on the leadership team talking about the restructuring, relevancy and integrity we’re working on for IMSA, particularly relating to our new certifications. I promised I would update you on our progress and this is the first of several I’ll offer between now and the fall. These certifications are the lifeblood of our organization and potentially, your career. Certification creation is a serious obligation and a heady responsibility, so as we strive to make our testing more relevant and current, it’s crucial we get it right. It’s also a heavy lift, and that’s why we brought in Sue Ebbers and her team from Change by Design, a Florida-based firm, specializing in developing instructional design, performance improvement and tailored learning services.  

Right now, Sue and her team are joined at our hip as we work through a detailed process to get to the final certifications. Predictably, we talk all the time, but last week, we took time out to discuss the status of the project and the seriousness of the task. Sue’s project manager, Robin Herriff, told us, “You spend a lot of time and a lot of money building these courses, but the jobs change. For example, someone who’s working on a traffic signal. When you open up that box, it doesn’t look the same as it did five years ago or 10 years ago because the technology changes as the job changes.” she said. “It’s very important to update these as you go along, every few years so that you’re testing and certifying on the actual job being done, not the job that was being done five years ago or 10 years ago.” 

Robin’s observation mirrors our motivation. Signals and the technology that drives them aren’t static. They’re dynamic, advancing at breathtaking speed, and it’s IMSA’s commitment to keep you ahead of that pace. That also means that as we build out our new education and testing protocols, we need to work quickly, smartly and comprehensively. We owe it to you as members to get it right, and that’s a big part of our collaboration with Change by Design. They created an inclusive process that brings together the technicians in the trenches, our industry leaders and subject matter experts to make sure we’re not only asking good questions, but we’re also asking the right questions. They also created a timeline to ensure we’re hitting the right milestones at the right time and so far, I’m pleased to tell you we’re hitting the marks on our schedule.  

We’ve just finalized the Job Task Analysis process in which teams of technicians and practitioners shared their insight and experiences from the field. Now, we’re sending out surveys to gather additional information from subject matter experts and current certificate holders, to ensure that everything we captured in the Job Task Analysis process is accurate and relevant. Simultaneously, instructional designers are beginning to outline the framework of potential teaching materials that will help drive the certifications. Once we’re confident that we’ve captured the right information, we can create the exams and begin beta testing them. 

Designing new certifications is a complex undertaking and there will almost certainly be hiccups along the way, but our goal is to minimize issues and use them to build a better product for you, because ultimately, this project is not about those of us at IMSA. It’s about giving you the tools you need in the field to operate safely and skillfully today, and to grow in the future. Becoming certified should never be an impediment to your career, or your organization’s success. Rather, it should be an opportunity to improve your outlook and create more success. Perhaps Robin said it best. “That’s a step up for you – something on your resume,” she said. “It’s a step up with your boss. It’s showing the folks that you work for, that you know what you’re doing, and you know how to do it correctly, and that’s good for everyone.”