The future of certification is carbon net zero

Building a better certification exam is about more than efficiency and cost-effectiveness. We have the responsibility to create a lower environmental impact.

Certiverse has built an exam creation platform that allows organisations to create high-quality tasks and content without the need for any Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) traveling to training or workshops. Whilst I am sure that many SMEs love doing this (depending on the destination), it is expensive and also needlessly limits your group of experts. For starters, who is to say that the best SMEs for your project are the ones who can take time out of the office and travel? This eliminates many valuable contributors who may have standing work or family commitments. During the pandemic, I know that many people have been using Google sheets and video conferencing so they can work without having to meet in person, but I haven’t heard anyone say it worked really well for them or that everyone enjoyed sitting on Zoom for hours on end.

Many test sponsors are seeing this remote work as a temporary measure until travel and gatherings can return to a pre-COVID level, but that’s overlooking opportunities to innovate, including the chance to implement test development that is Carbon Net Zero. That means not just offsetting our air miles by ticking a box when we book our flight, but actually doing something in a different way that negates the need for multiple people to travel.

We are currently working on offsetting all our carbon at Certiverse. Calculators already exist to determine pollutant production for a wide range of activities and locations, so this is quite easy to do. We are a technology-focussed start-up, so whilst we have a geographically diverse team, we can easily measure and offset the carbon from our personal office set-ups in different countries. We don’t have a centralized building to heat, cool, or network, so that lowers our carbon production even more.

Since we have a SaaS platform, we also know how much time our customers’ SMEs have been spending developing content and in which countries they are based. We can also calculate how much carbon they are using and offset this. In addition, we have seen that the time SMEs spend online developing and reviewing tasks and content has been amazingly low compared with the traditional model, due to the asynchronous approach Certiverse uses. AI guidance and automated workflows have been imbedded in the system, so there is an added advantage to using our platform. Certiverse’s cloud-based infrastructure is also easy enough to offset. With both active and offset steps in place, we have effectively neutralized the environmental impact of development.

So, now comes the biggest area of impact: test delivery, which is easily managed using remote proctoring. By not requiring travel to a test centre, it is straight-forward to determine what the carbon footprint is of the person taking the test online and the proctoring component. The record-and-review option for secure proctoring that is becoming more prevalent is even easier to manage and more flexible, for programs that are interested in using this lower-impact model.

As we look at the entire exam dev process, the gaps in calculating carbon are from factors we don’t necessarily control, such as our customers’ time and effort, or the other work they are doing that may affect timelines. We know how long the administrators spend on the platform, but of course we recognise there are other things going on in their business. As we look to a partnership, we would be happy to discuss ways to reduce the environmental impact of a sponsor’s full development process.

Are testing organisations interested in being greener? Whilst I know that the big things can make a big difference, so can a lot of small actions when added up. We’re excited to partner with any organisation willing to join us to creating the first carbon net zero certification program and hope many others will be inspired to follow.

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