Import Skills Label into Google Classroom

Import Skills LabelTM into Google Classroom as an assignment. This is ideal: teachers share a standardized display for learning in any task (the label) with their students in software they are already using and students are familiar with.


Teachers create labels for activities in or out of a classroom, books or articles to read and synthesize, online games, VR experiences, or any possible way students acquire skills and knowledge.

The instructions are simple. As a teacher (meaning you create, publish, market, or distribute learning resources):

  • Create a ‘Teacher’ account on Skills Label ( ,, or ).
  • Use the label wizard to create a label.
    • In the header, create a title and description of the task. This is important because both are automatically pulled into the ‘assignment’ in Google Classroom.
    • Assign prerequisites and requirements.
    • Add skill line items. Provide context and use your own assessment for focus and difficulty levels. Use standards to anchor them.
    • Designate a link to the resource itself (website, app, etc.).
    • Summarize an overall knowledge gain.
  • Finish the wizard and navigate the public URL. Click on the button for Google Classroom.
  • If you are not already signed in, you must sign into your Google Classroom.
  • Select your classroom and course then click GO. Click ASSIGN on the next page.

Once the label has been imported, students access a full-paged Skills Label as an assignment in Google Classroom. Labels require students to understand learning expectations and outcomes – in skills, before starting any learning task. Students may collect and store labels too.

If teachers want to give students choice before starting a task, these labels are ideal for making comparisons between different tasks. (For example, as a teacher, I might create twenty assignments represented as labels and offer students the choice of completing ten of them.)

At this stage, Skills Label is a free online resource. Feel free to try this new, patent pending technology – a single display for learning in any discrete task.

If you have any questions, email

Finding the Key to the Skills Gap

Fixing Skills Gap
Fixing Skills Gap

There is a skills gap, actually two different ones. One is in filling highly technical jobs, and the other is filling middle skill jobs; the latter representing as much as 40% of new job growth according to a US News article. The skill gap requires new tactics from impressionable students and workers, higher education and training institutions, and the actual employers. Here are some suggestions:

  • Employers publish demand for in demand skills years in advance (if they can). Signal what skills are required so students can acquire them.
  • Build awareness of alternative programs to four-year degrees. Impressionable students need to know these programs even exist.
  • Employers work directly with higher education and training institutions. (According to a recent The Future of Jobs Report, 25 percent of companies plan to ‘collaborate with education institutions’.) Create programs where students get job training and a contingency that when they graduate, then they get a job.
  • Higher education institutions focus more on skills in their programs. (Every course – perhaps every task, students know precisely what skills they are working on.)
  • Embrace new programs, such as bootcamps, nano-degrees, microcredentials, and new age apprenticeships, that target skills effectively and efficiently. (An accountant, web designer, network technician – all high demand jobs – do not require a four-year degree.) The programs save time and cost for students.

Skills Based Approach is a methodology centered on the development of a skill set through education, higher education / training, and a career. A person constantly cycles through four stages with an evolving skill set to stay relevant. The methodology is an application. It is useful for all learning programs, as it focuses on skills.

Skill Culture is a growth mindset to be motivated and taking action to learn and apply skills. In a Skills Culture, students and young professionals acquire skills and then prove competencies with assessments or demonstrations. Practitioners teach skill and concentrate on the underlying methods and applications. Companies forecast demand for skills, hire for skills, and train skills.

Skill Syllabi and Skills Label are applications to express learning in a course and task level. These resources provide a basis for competency based learning and stacking credentials needed for career readiness.

Squeeze on Higher Education 2

Three years ago, I wrote a piece on the disconnect between companies and higher education, which I called the ‘Squeeze on Higher Education’. Not much has changed in the intervening years. This week I read an updated article from Gallup, where the numbers were the same or (worse?).


The de facto college degree is getting squeezed from two directions: employers requiring professionals to build new-age technical skills (where there is currently a skills gap); and typical students who are faced with the rising cost of a traditional college degree and must take on significant debt.

Everything is fine according to higher education leaders. Ninety-six percent of chief academic officers of colleges and universities “believe that their institutions are very or somewhat effective at preparing students for the workforce”, but only 11% of business leaders “strongly agree” according to Gallup’s article 3 Ways to Realign Higher Education With Today’s Workforce.

(In my previous article, I referenced a pair of Gallup Polls in 2014.) In one of them, a very strong majority of business leaders say hiring managers consider ‘knowledge’ and ‘applied skills’ as ‘very important in hiring decisions’ –  84 and 79 percent respectively. (This is far greater than the ‘degree’ or ‘college attended’ in the same category, only 28 and 9 percent respectively.). In the other, business leaders were asked if higher education graduates have the skills ‘my business needs’ and 33 percent disagreed and 34 percent were neutral to the statement.

From the students’ perspective, there is pressure. In 2017, student debt for 44 million Americans is around 1.3 trillion (same article). Yet, many graduate ill prepared to start making contributions at a company.

I think the problem is not stressing enough importance on applied, skills based learning and not effective planning to have the skills needed for a career. I also think alternative forms of education are optimal for specific careers. Many technical careers work best with a combination of classroom and experiential learning. This seems to suggest a ‘new age’ apprenticeship and /or mentorship model. (As I have always said, many higher education institutions will adapt and offer these new programs.)

Skills Based Approach is an effective platform to plan, track, and assess skills as students navigate into the career roles. It is ideal because of its: adaptability to work with all forms of education; and longevity, in the sense it suggests continuity (in planning and building of skills) through education, higher education, and early career development

Skills Culture is a growth mindset where students are motivated and take action to learn and apply skills. Practitioners (professors and business leaders) work to identify and communicate the demand for skills in their organizations. Working together, all parties use the mindset to address the communication disconnect between them and have a basis to move forward.

6 Rs In Establishing An Online Identity

When I came out with Online Personal Brand a few years ago, I differentiated from the other personal brand approaches (fourteen books I read) by creating a functional model. I suggest each person, first establishes each of three elements – skill set, aura, and identity – then projects them onto networks; in the book, I provide a detailed discussion of each of these elements and when they overlap.

Online Personal Brand
Online Personal Brand

I did not jump on the ‘self-promotion’ or ‘popularity contest’ bandwagon. Self-promotion is necessary in situations, but so is self-prevention. Self-promotion is not me, so I do not relate. I promote ‘idea promotion’ and getting recognition when and if deserved.

The identity element is critical (and something often left unattended by personal branding experts). In a hyper-connected world, we constantly make new connections, write posts, and share content in social media without considering the consequences. We get enamored by the ‘network effect’.

Despite what they tell you, companies offering a service either advocate an identity or network – something I call network versus identity. It makes sense. According to Reeds’ Law, the utility of networks can scale exponentially by the size of the network. In addition, social media services offer ‘profiles’ that are essentially boxed layouts so there is not a lot of latitude to express yourself in a visually appealing way – a personalized, deeper way.

As you establish an identity – a personal website and social media profiles, consider the six R’s:

  • Redundancy. Think about how your content and information is used across the internet. Can you take steps to consolidate, cross reference articles?
  • Relevancy. How do you fit on your networks? Make connections with purpose. Try to recognize value or a reason in making a connection. Establish your own expertise.
  • Rights. As you share content online, consider royalty and copyright privileges. With almost every social media service, you relinquish royalty rights to your works.
  • Relationships. Networking requires making connections with varying depth. Remember to be human.
  • Rule. Take ownership of your identity. With your personal website, take control down to pixel of space.
  • Resonance. Similar to relevancy, consider how your message (in content, posts, updates, etc.) is unified and clear.

I have argued a personal website is an ideal representation of your identity. In constructing a personal website, it should be all about you. Visit to learn more.

New Skills Search

Search Skills
Search Skills

Introducing a new skills search on Skill Culture. With this search, you can search on just about anything and get the same expected result – a manageable list of skills.

In addition, (if you are a teacher or professor) you can add new skills, methodologies, and relationships – all you have to do is create an account.

(I would like to see this grow like Wikipedia framework, where experts participate in building the content.) All content is verified before going live.

Why would practitioners want to participate? There are a few benefits:

  • This becomes a platform where practitioners work together to develop a set of methods and application behind skills.
  • The search is accessible to students, so there is someone accessing the results. (A practitioner can influence the search results.)
  • This skills database will be accessible to the Skills Label, Skill Syllabi, and Skills Based Approach application.


Skills Culture Could Help With High School Engagement

Student engagement dramatically falls from middle school to high school. According to a massive survey of US and Canadian students, Gallup found almost ‘three quarters of all surveyed fifth-grade students’ are engaged, while only ‘one-third of surveyed students in 10th, 11th and 12th grades are engaged”.

Student Engagement
Student Engagement

Yes, high schoolers are growing outside of the classroom, participating in sports, making friendships (many of them lifelong), and exploring interests, so school seems unappealing, too structured. But ideally (in my opinion), the percentage of engaged students remains somewhat stable from middle school to high school.

A small disclaimer, the high school model might not work for everyone and does not have to. Students who work towards a career outside of school or align themselves with a skilled trade might never get engaged in high school. For example, a programmer/ hacker who does a lot of coding in his or her free time still secures a future career (moreover, the standard high school program still lags what is offered in extracurricular activities related to programming). Another example are students who are working while in high school; hopefully they get the necessary skills for future growth (ideally with the help of a mentor).

Why are students becoming so disengaged when learning becomes so critical to their future success, when they must make mature decisions of what skills they need and how to acquire and them?

Something I have been proposing for years: teenage students get self and socially aware. They are impressionable and after high school make one of the biggest decisions of their life. (In the context of Skills Based Approach, during the planning stage, students identify an evolving set of skills and an action plan to acquire them. Self-discovery might come from a game, test, simulation, etc.)

There is considerable growth in resources to identify personal learning and career tracks. One type is a game or VR to simulate actual experiences. Knack is making considerable headway in this area. Another type is to collect data/content from your everyday experiences (big data) and then crunch out the analytics. A teenager using FitBit devices might identify behaviors or tendencies worth developing. Or a teenager might analyze their posts in social media to identify personality traits (FiveLabs).

Gallup identifies six ways to keep kids excited about school: create hope; foster talent; care a lot; recognize creative teachers and teaching; have fun; and model engagement. Self-discovery is one step forward. Personalized, adaptive learning is another step forward. Competency based learning removes a ‘seat time’ contingency and allows for underperforming students to get more help, average students choose how much time to spend learning, and overachieving students to move on when ready.  Games, VR, and experiential learning is a leap forward. This is what is going to make learning fun. (Skills Label™ is a display to express learning expectations and outcome for any discrete task. Teachers can create labels for each of these learning types.)

These poor engagement numbers bother me as I feel lifelong learning is the best way to achieve (career) happiness. High school is one time in a person’s life dedicated to learning, exploration, and personal and social growth. With such an investment, seems wasteful to have two-thirds of students not engaged at school. Skills Culture is a mindset where students are motivated to learn and apply skills, perhaps one lens to help improve these low engagement numbers. With a Skills Culture:

  • A Growth Mindset. Students are motivated. Most students feel they can learn skills if they put in the necessary time and effort.
  • Personalized. There is required learning. But otherwise, students work on their own evolving skill set. Students learn their own way.
  • Experiential Learning. Learn to practice and apply skills. Students get motivated on actually applying their knowledge.

Join the online community:

Hire Character. Hire Skill. Train Skill.

When I first heard the phrase: “Hire Character. Train Skill.” I protested, not because of the character statement but rather the skill statement. The intention is to emphasize character over skill in hiring. But I think someone who has mastered his or her skills deserves commendation (getting hired). Skills have a very human element, especially when you start to talk about ‘soft skills’ and behaviors and analytical thinking skills, both of which are extremely hard to automate.

I got in a social quagmire trying to express my point of view as many argued hiring is all about character. So, I thought it was worth further exploration.

Hire Character. I understand you hire someone based on character. You always evaluate someone for sound character. The evaluation differs based on the type of role this person plays in your organization. A leader, manager, or someone in HR must have exceptional character. They are interfacing with your workers and lead by example. The bar for programmers might be lower – it is a highly technical skilled job with less interface with the team. (If an employee does not lie, cheat, or steal and has the skills, then they perform well and do not hurt the company.)

The type of company matters too; perhaps this is where the promotion versus prevention relationship comes into play. If a company is in marketing, branding, or hospitality, character is measured not only internally, but also externally by clients and the public in general; in a way, a company promotes the character of its employees. A software company hires engineers based on whether they can immediately start contributing; a company wants to prevent poor character from harming the normal flow of business.

Hire Skill. I think you hire based on skills. These candidates have already put the time, expense, and dedication to properly learn a set of skills. You have candidates prove they have the skills by demonstration and /or assessments. Furthermore, in applying, candidates signal they know what it takes to apply the skills and they want to move forward in learning them. In addition, you should assess the soft skills (non-technical, and subtle skills) that represent your company culture.

Train Skill. I believe in a growth mindset, where a student or professional feels motivated to acquire skills if they put in the necessary time and effort; part of a skills culture. Therefore, if a company is willing to pick up the expense (time, money, and resources), then they should be able to teach the necessary skills. However, there will be variances in the expenses and motivation levels of new hires. There is no guarantee a new hire sticks through the process.

So, all I did was insert “hire skill” into the phrase ahead of “train skill”.