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Certificates of Participation

Page history last edited by Vance Stevens 6 years, 6 months ago

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A Brief History of TESOL, EVO, and the Question of Certificates


When the EVO was begun back in 2000  as a project of TESOL's CALL Interest Section to expand the Electronic Village at the annual Convention in time and cyberspace, its organizers were cautioned by TESOL staffers not to offer certificates of any kind. TESOL has paid online courses, certificate programs, and more (see here for present-day offerings), and they understandably did not wish the EVO's free sessions to compete with their official ones. Moreover, they had no way to monitor the quality of the sessions being offered by the EVO and so were reluctant to have us offer certificates with the TESOL logo on them.


Accordingly, every year, we announced during moderator training that no certificates could be awarded to participants of EVO sessions. However, many participants want something to show their bosses after they spend five or six weeks learning new skills or discussing issues of relevance to the English teaching community. Every year as the sessions drew to a close, moderators approached the Coordination Team asking about certificates. Every year, we told them, "No certificates!"  But in 2015, we decided to allow sessions to provide Certificates of Participation to deserving participants.


The EVO has grown a lot since its early days, and it has made a name for itself in the ELT community. We felt that we had reached a point where we could make available an electronic Certificate of Participation which session leaders can fill out and give to eligible participants who request one. These would be comparable to certificates of attendance that are offered at professional conventions. We designed a simple pdf template with the EVO logo (not the TESOL logo!) and the session dates. Session leaders can fill in the session title and the participant's name (OR the participant can fill in his or her name). Participants can print out the certificate if they so desire for inclusion in a paper portfolio or a personnel file.


However, moderating teams do not have to take advantage of this opportunity, and we suggest that you consider carefully the pros and cons of making certificates available in your session.


First, you and your co-moderators will be responsible for establishing criteria for and verifying eligibility. Many EVO participants "lurk" in the background; they don't participate visibly in discussions, do not post reflections on readings or tasks, and do not complete projects. It's impossible to know if they are following silently on a regular basis, just checking in occasionally, putting your tasks on hold for later (and maybe actually doing them after the official session is over, and maybe not) or just gone. Then too, because EVO sessions are free, participants often sign up for more than they can handle. Then they quietly drop out, but they rarely let you know when they do this; they have nothing to lose by disappearing, and they probably don't want to hurt your feelings. You may not give a Certificate of Participation to someone who joined your community but has not visibly participated in it, so your team will need to establish and make clear the requirements participants must fulfill if they wish to earn a certificate. Requirements can be simple, but they should include some clearly defined level of involvement in your interactive space and perhaps the creation of a certain number of artifacts (posts, blogs, podcasts...) during the session. We strongly suggest that, for your own sanity, you establish a clear ending date after which a Certificate of Participation will not be given. In establishing your eligibility criteria, consider how you will determine whether they have been met or not. If your session is very large (and some sessions attract hundreds of participants; it's impossible to predict how many will sign up for yours), will you have time to comb through all five weeks, counting the posts from each participant and determining whether they have met your criteria (Is "I agree with So-and-So" enough of a post to be counted?)? Moderators of smaller sessions (under 50 participants) will have a good idea of who has participated actively; moderators of sessions with 500 - 1,000 participants may have no way to do this.


Second, you will be responsible for filling out the certificates with your session title and participant names and sending them out to participants.

 Again, if your session is large, this could be a time-consuming task. As the facilitator of an EVO session, you are already doing a lot, and we hesitate to ask you to spend even more time. If you decide to go ahead with certificates, remember to keep a record of who received one, in case there is an authentication question later.


Another option is to use open digital badges instead of (or in addition to) certificates. If you are offering your session in Moodle, Edmodo, or Schoology, you can set up a system of automatically generated badges which you can use to determine eligibility for a Certificate of Participation.  See this page for more information about digital badges. If you are using a different platform that offers automatic badges or certificates, please share this information during the moderator training session.


A final option is to stick to the old policy of no certificates for anyone. The EVO has traditionally been a way for moderators and participants to share freely in a unique learning experience in which learning is done for the sheer joy of it. As an EVO moderator, you are already giving generously of your time and expertise. Do not succumb to pressure that you are under any obligation to determine eligibility or award certificates (but do not expect the Coordination Team to take on this responsibility for you, either). No certificates means no certificates, and you should make this clear from the outset. In your session, people are learning because they want to--not in order to get a Certificate of Participation.


Please consider all your options and discuss what you would like to do with your moderating team.




EVO2015 Certificate of Participation template 



 Download Certificace as pdf



Download certificate as image : https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8mJKnQE0MzVcFhnTjh1LW1VRzA/view?usp=sharing

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