Since the National Wood Flooring Association launched its NWFA University a year ago, more than 15,000 online courses have been completed. NWFA University offers a combination of online and hands-on training for wood flooring professionals.
“The engagement with our online learning platform has been overwhelming,” says NWFA Education & Member Engagement Director, Stephanie Owen. “Having fifteen thousand courses completed in just one year certainly has exceeded our expectations, but what’s even more impressive is when you realize what that number equates to on a daily basis: more than 40 courses completed every single day. That’s just an amazing level of participation.”
One thing that differentiates NWFAU from typical online learning platforms is the incorporation of digital badges. A digital badge is graphic representation of a learned skill, but NWFA takes them a step further by embedding its digital badges with metadata that verifies the recipient’s proficiency with a specific skill or area of expertise. This metadata includes information about the NWFA as the third-party issuer of the badge, the date the badge was earned, and the specific skill or knowledge that was exhibited, and confirmed through testing, for the individual to earn the badge. In addition, these badges become part of a life-long digital resume, which makes them especially convenient for attracting customers.
“NWFA uses its digital badges to influence consumers who are looking for qualified flooring professionals,” says NWFA President & CEO, Michael Martin. “For those members who engage with NWFA University, they move up in NWFA’s consumer search feature as they participate in more training. Take a series of courses to earn a badge, and bump up; take more courses to earn more badges, and bump up again; earn certification and jump to the top of the list. This is the first time we’ve been able to offer our members a tangible return on training by verifying their skills with consumers looking for qualified contractors.”
NWFA University also has been recognized within the association industry as a leading learning platform for trades. It has been praised in The Hill Congressional blog for offering credentials via online courses and hands-on training opportunities; it has been featured in a blog posted by Credly as a digital badging early adopter; it has been presented at the American Society of Association Executives annual meeting as a model for meaningful and affordable training that provides defined career paths; and it has been identified by Leading Learning as a successful example of incorporating digital badging into career learning platforms.
“The enthusiasm with which our online training has been received only motivates us to keep developing meaningful content,” says Owen. “One of our members, Jose Villegas, with the Carpenter’s International Training Fund in Rego Park, NY, told us that it was the most educational experience he has had in 20 years. That’s pretty powerful coming from an industry veteran.”
To learn more about NWFA University, visit http://www.nwfa.org/nwfa-university.aspx.