(Skills Label) What is the Brand Name?


Skills Label™ is a standardized display to express learning expectations and outcomes in any task (experience, activity, or resource). It solves a big problem:

There is no way to compare learning from traditional learning media (books, game, course, activities, etc.) with emerging learning media (games, virtual reality, and IoT). This disarray gets worse when comparing media targeting different education, higher education, and career stages.

Skills Label™ is a patent pending process / method to create a standardized display, catalog, and database for learning resources. Skills Label™ differs from what currently exists. There is not a process for game designers, educational publishers, providers of online learning platform, practitioners of traditional high school and college programs, and other producers of educational experiences to publish the learning expectations of their resources.

Been working on coming up with a ‘brand name’ for this concept. Here are four potential names for the brand:

Skills Label™. This is the brand name we have invested all our marketing efforts in. Clearly, the prime space on the label is used to emphasize skills and elements related to skills. (Using the analogy of a nutritional label, skills are like vitamins – the essence, goodness of the resource.) In addition, putting ‘skills’ in the brand name strongly associates it with two other core apps: Skills Based Approach and Skill Syllabi. Finally, it coincides with the Skills Culture mindset.

Skills Emblem. Badging and stacking credentials has gained a significant following in education and professional development. This might emphasize what you get after consuming a label. One part of the process and utility of the label is to assign credentials. This ties skill to learning achievements.

Working with skills, competencies, and their related underlying methods is an ideal medium to express learning expectations. The database of skills is robust, representing technical and transferable skills, soft skills, and behaviors and constantly growing to accept new technologies and applications; an advantage in working in skills is they are evolving. New elements like focus values and context have been added to the label. Standards, like Common Core, are linked to skills and anchor the level of difficulty or required competency.

Education Label. The advantage in this name is it directly links the intent to reach a target audience of students in K-12 education and higher education. The lion’s share of labels might be created by teachers and professors for tasking in their courses.

Learning Label. Summarizing learning is the objective of the labels. It does not matter if the learning takes place in the classroom or out of the classroom. It does not matter if the learning is required or self-directed. The purpose is to capture learning.

Not expecting to get a response to decide on a brand name with this article, so clearly the intent is to put marketing spins on this exciting new concept. But if you have something to say, please share. Join the community: www.skillslabel.com and www.twitter.com/skillslabel



Summarize Learning in Skills


In coming up with Skills Based Approach a few years ago, I always had a wide lens for talking about skills (never exclusively worked with a technical view of skills). I see skills as the underpinning in everything we do; in every experience, we apply skills. They define how we think, play, converse, engineer, create, build, design, analyze, solve problems, etc. Types of skills include: foundational thinking and soft skills, transferable, technical, and behavioral skills. Here are some of the advantages in working with skills:

  • Definable – every skill can be defined and has related underlying methods and applications. Much of learning (traditional and new age) translate best to skills, including: gamification, badges, and adaptive and personalized learning.
  • Standardized – skill sets are concrete. Skills summarize education and employment needs. Educators, recruiters, and employers understand skill sets.
  • Portable – most social media platforms (LinkedIn, Google +, Facebook), job boards, and personal websites include skill sets.
  • Searchable – skill sets are highly effective as tags to content.
  • Flexible – new skills are created all the time. Many skills today did not exist five years ago.
  • Longevity – skills connect education, higher education, and career learning expectations.

Skills Label™ is an effective, standardized display for learning resources. Much of the display is dedicated to skills and skill competencies. (Once again, drawing on the nutritional label example, skills take the place of vitamins in the layout.)

I agree with educators who stress the importance of helping learners develop lens, perspectives to properly evaluate their circumstances – essentially drive their growth as a person. To some extent, this involves memorizing relevant facts and information. There are places on a Skills Label™ to capture this ‘other side’ of knowledge. First, for each skill line item, a teacher can add ‘skill context’ to describe what is learned for that skill in the experience. Second, below the skills section, there is descriptive ‘knowledge gain’ section to summarize an overall learning objective.

Skills act as the ‘verb’ in knowledge; it is the action part of knowledge. Arguably, this becomes the biggest factor because we are already seeing technology augmenting our ability to retrieve facts and information.

Learn more about Skills-Based Approach and Skills Label™ .

Photo Credit © Camrocker, DmitryPoch, diego_cervo, Wavebreakme

Network Vs. Identity: Slideshare

My first blog was about the concept of representing a network versus an identity. Since I wrote the blog, establishing and thinking about an online identity has become even more critical. Social media is pervasive in everything we do. It also becomes relevant once we start making connections and projecting a representation of ourselves online (so high school and college student should be considering it).Here is a slideshow summarizing some key points:

Blogging Is A Thrill

Made another milestone with this blog, a three year anniversary. Welcome all new followers! Like every year, I want to dedicate a blog to summarize the main themes covered this year.

I successfully launched the Online Personal Brand: Skill Set, Aura, and Identity  model in a book and website. The model simplifies personal branding into a functional, mainstream approach. Some blogs have excerpts from the book, other blogs apply the model to new topics: taking on a thought role, idea promotion, gossip, and pulling feedback.

There is a series of blogs on individual intelligences  (cognitive, emotional, creative, and contextual), artificial intelligence (AI), and collective intelligence. One conclusion is we must focus on elevating a collective intelligence because we increasingly work on teams, connect on networks, and use various technologies

With a Skills-Based Approach, I discuss some new takeaways: self-guided learning, early education and career planning (translated into a skill set), a changing definition of knowledge, and basing performance reviews  on the methodology.

In a series of blogs, I talk about adopting a ‘company culture’. I further discuss the importance of making ‘actualizing ideas’ as a key element of the culture. To be successful, a company must institute programs that encourage, stimulate, and move new ideas forward – what I define as actualizing an idea.

Finally, as I have been doing from the start, I discuss how the above mentioned and other concepts relate to a personal website. One clear signal from trends this year is a personal website must be optimized for digital access. The delineation between an app and a website is becoming blurry. Nevertheless, establishing and owning an online identity is critical.

Blogging is a thrill; it gives you a voice in a noisy world. Personally, I like committing to the process: acquiring knowledge, creating compelling media (sometimes with a metaphor, stats, etc.), thinking of a stance, and write convincing content. If you have the time and interest, you should consider writing one yourself. I sincerely hope you get something from this blog and thank you for your participation.

Cautions in ‘Going Social’

In A World Gone Social, Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt share a compelling case why businesses and persons must establish a social media presence – their future depends on it.[i] Here are some of the underlying themes in their book:

  1. Everyone – employees, customers, competitors, and candidates – is using social media; according to a study referenced in the book: “46 percent of the US population reports having accounts on three or more social networks”.
  2. A social media interaction is usually a more intensive, personalized experience than traditional marketing channels. (It is also much less expensive.)
  3. Interacting in social media collectively within an organization creates ‘company culture’.
  4. A social media presence has become a pillar in personal and company branding. Social media is a platform that promotes and amplifies individual thinking.
  5. Think the acronym “OPEN: ordinary people extraordinary network”.

Social is not change for change’s sake. It is a monumental shift in how we think, work, and live.


Cautions in 'Going Social'
Cautions in ‘Going Social’

Three conclusions I had after reading the book and reflecting on my experiences:

Participating in social may not cost much, but requires a significant commitment. The authors say there is not much of actual expense in running an organic social media campaign, which is true. However, it requires time, attention, and diligence. They say you may spend on average two hours a day in social media (often seven days a week). Moreover, it is not two hours you knock off in one sitting. It requires multiple bursts throughout the day, something they imply when they say you are expected to respond to requests within two hours.

Embrace algorithms to make sense of massive flows of content. As everyone establishes their online presence and creates and curates content, we become inundated with the flow of knowledge. We cannot read all of the knowledge in our subject area created on a given day and, therefore, become increasingly dependent on a personal network and machine algorithms to feed us relevant content. Frequently they use the phrase “More Social. Less Media”.  Perhaps they are trying to say that  a back-and-forth personal interaction is priceless . I agree.

Exciting to jump on the social bandwagon but the road will have bumps. Everyone wants to become an expert in a discipline, where they get recognized for their work and have interactions with an audience. Not everyone captures the attention of an audience. For example, 71 percent of tweets are ignored[ii] and a small minority of users – around .05% of the site’s population – are generating half of all Twitter posts[iii]. (Granted these articles were published in 2011, perhaps these stats have improved.) Not everyone can be an expert. The average income of a LinkedIn user is a $109,000 and over 60 percent of LinkedIn users make over $66,000 – making connections is a lot about the high income earners you know. To be egalitarian, social must: be accessible to all, have communities, and allow status movement.

I think Coine’s and Babbitt’s social revolution is spot on. My only concern is the vastness of it all: billions of people and millions of companies vying for influence and content creation and dissemination at a magnitude we have never experienced before. A common perspective with personal branding is to create a personal marketing plan that mimics how a company brands a product. This is a good start, but tilts to an upper echelon of professionals (at least in my opinion). There are too many professionals. (This is why I suggest a functional perspective to personal branding.) Similarly, I fear social media might become a ‘popularity contest’ where influence is decided by the number of connections in your network and how many impressions you get on your posts. Hopefully, the authors’ notion of building communities based on an OPEN framework is adaptable to the massive growth in online communications we are and will continue to experience in the Social Age. I recommend picking up a copy of their book, they provide plenty of examples and stats to buttress their thesis.

[i] Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt (2014). A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt To Survive. New York: AMACOM.

[ii] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/12/71-percent-of-tweets-are-_n_759176.html

[iii] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/28/twitter-study-statistics_n_841666.html

Original Image © Depositphoto/  lightsource #7854546

Generation Z, Mobile Natives

While I looked into the ‘monthly average users’ for the big four social media services, I realized there is a major new trend: users are using mobile devices on par with regular desktops. According to a recent publication, Facebook has reached 1 billion monthly active users using mobile devices compared to 1.28 billion overall. And this is also playing out with Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google +.

The major implication is a good web service must function just as well on a mobile device, it cannot be a secondary afterthought. It is not like building a web service first and then saying “Oh, maybe I should make this mobile friendly.”, but rather, “How can I make a web service that functions on a desktop and mobile devices effectively, where there are little discernible differences in functionality as I go from one to the other?” Another implication is the next generation is being brought up using mobile devices, and could be labeled as ‘mobile natives’ (in a similar fashion Millennials are labeled as ‘digital natives’).

Network vs Identity
Network vs Identity

The use of mobile apps is soaring. There are millions of apps offered on Android, Windows 8, and Mac OS platforms. What is great about apps is they do one simple task really well. You can have hundreds of apps, each providing a particular service.

Our next generation will be accustomed to this ‘app way of doing things’. Microsoft realizes this. This is why they changed their operating system, Windows 8, into a hybrid of what they had before with an app interface. They want to have their operating system accessible on all devices, desktop and mobiles. Facebook realizes this too. This is why they acquired Instagram and WhatsApp.

I do not think usage of desktops disappears. Simply put, there are just too many things we do that we prefer a larger screen or more processing power, and if you are at a desk, why not take advantage of it. For example, if you are playing a graphic intensive game, you need a desktop. So the platform we use is dependent on the task we are trying to accomplish and whether a desktop is accessible. That’s why new web services should be built to work on both desktop and mobile devices effectively.

In a New York Times article, the CEO of a content distributor says:

We used to interact with personal computers daily, for two or three hours at a time. With laptops, we started interacting three or four times a day for 20 minutes each. Mobile phones made that into sessions of two minutes, 50 times a day.[i]

[i] http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/26/writing-in-a-nonstop-world/?hpw&rref=technology