Skills Culture: What’s Behind This Growth Mindset For Learning

Skills Culture SM is a growth mindset to learning, first introduced in 2016. The mindset is based on getting learners and practitioners to rally around learning and practicing skills properly. Perhaps the central ethos of the concept is: “Every experience is an opportunity to apply skills”. The mindset fits well with a suite of applications: Skills Based Approach (a methodology) and Skill Label (a system). All together, the applications and mindset create an effective platform for lifelong learning.

To understand Skills Culture, you must agree to three premises: 1) consider a broad interpretation of skills not limited to technical ones; 2) agree it is possible to define all learning in skills, their underlying methods and applications, and competencies; and 3) acquiring skills is for not only job or career preparedness, but also to make life more meaningful. So, a person builds a strong foundation in thinking skills and other transferable skills which serves as the basis for learning technical skills. And tracks soft skills like any other skill; their importance cannot be understated as they are applied in our every interaction and cannot be easily automated.

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Macro Level Benefits of Skills Label

When you create an original concept, you think how it solves a specific problem – on a micro level. But later, as it gains momentum, you start to see how it solves bigger problems – on a macro level. The idea of learning labels is intriguing.

The genesis idea of learning labels was based on trying to reduce the amount of typing in a tasking application (Skills Based Approach). But the learning labels solve a bigger problem. There is not a standardized display (representation) of learning expectations. (For a point of reference, examples of standardized displays include a nutritional label for food or resume for professional evaluations.)  There is no basis of comparison between traditional and emerging learning resources. Over the past couple of years, I realized these learning labels have even more potential.

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New Personalized Grading

I am creating new personalized grading with the learning labels technology. It is easy to think of new features for a product, the difficult part is narrowing the list and focusing on ones that add the most value. There are clear reasons why this feature adds value.

With learning labels, I work to convince practitioners we need to track learning on a discrete level – a task level. To accomplish this, there needs to be a mechanism and navigation to connect learning labels into a series – so they represent a project, learning plan, or course. I think this was the biggest influence in adding personalized grading into the platform. It is possible to create a series of labels, connect them based on performance, and grade each learner. Then, a learner navigates through the series based on their achievements.

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Keep a Record of Learning

I like to see the progress and movement we are experiencing with competency-based learning. In 2011, I started Skills Based Approach; I do not think there is much difference in what the phrases represent.

A key aspect of this type of learning is an assessment – evaluation or estimation of a person’s ability. It is intriguing to play a game, complete a project, or take a test and through an assessment get an accurate portrayal of a competency – like taking the SAT, GMAT, or LCAT, which produces a score of a capability in a field of study. But these standardized tests have a similar shortcoming in that they do not consider the context behind the knowledge –experiences.

For this reason and others, I think there is significant value in tracking the successful completion of learning tasks – a record of learning. An assessment might be included within or after a task or series of tasks.

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Get Ahead With a Mentor

I am fortunate to have had two tremendous mentors in my life. My experiences had such a powerful, lasting impact on me, I feel compelled to share my stories and promote mentorships. I created this graphic without doing any research or reading articles on mentoring, this was based on purely personal reflection of my experiences.

I believe all students and professionals benefit from a mentor, regardless of their field or discipline. When I first conceived Skills Based Approach (almost five years ago), I put mentorships squarely in the building stage. In A Skills Based Approach to Developing a Career, I dedicate a section to discuss how mentorships work with acquiring skills. I am convinced for many technical skills, learning from a mentor is the quickest, most effective way. You learn from a master who shares their methods and applications. (Besides the technicalities, is there much difference between an apprenticeship and mentorship?)

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