Students (all levels of education) are bombarded with many types of learning resources. Much of the consumption is outside of the classroom – some is required as part of a curriculum and some is not. At some level, perhaps middle school and later, students should manage their own learning. Skills Label Dashboard is an ideal platform to accomplish this requirement.
In addition, significant value is created by collecting and then storing learning labels over time. Assuming someone completes a given task, they get credit for completing it with Skill Points (a proprietary algorithm calculates these values). The diagram (an actual screenshot) demonstrates how this works.
On the menu, you see links based on a skill, how many tasks require the skill (the ranking), and total skill points earned upon completing the tasks. (Disclaimer: this is a pre-release so the numbers in the diagram are not actual examples, not calculated by algorithm.) Simply click on the link and the interactive dashboard appears with all the tasks for the skill (color coded based by assigned collections).
This application works with skills and competencies, demonstrating one approach to calculate competencies: summarize and analyze successful completion of tasks. Working with this medium, provides a basis (an assessment) to work laterally across subjects and disciplines, and vertically across education career stages. (And there is more forthcoming; there is much more with the learning labels.)
I fully back the traditional method in deriving a skill competency, where you take an assessment (test, simulation, project, etc.) and based on the results you get a competency. As I said before, a good assessment is purely free standing, not dependent on grade level, degree, age, etc. But I think, what I am suggesting with these labels and skill points is significantly different.
Essentially, a student gets credit’ for completing tasks (wherever and however it takes place). Part of the process (patent pending) is a verification the tasks expressed as labels are accurate with learning expectations and outcomes. Another part is verifying the task was completed. There are advantages to this approach to deriving a competency:
- Intrinsic motivator. Growth mindset. Students are motivated to complete tasks because they will get credit.
- Connected through education and career stages. Skill Points are calculated with a proprietary algorithm meant to distribute credit proportionately through this span.
- Allocates credit for all learning. For example, a student taking an economic course gets credit from economic analysis, problem solving, critical thinking, etc.
- Draws on data over time. Taking a test is a one-time, one-shot deal. Some students are better at taking tests than other. Completed tasks embodies a whole series of tasks over a period of time.
I think both ways of deriving a skills competency are valid, each having their own advantages.
So much is being talked about personalized learning and applied learning; these labels address both types of learning. First, this dashboard as an ideal way for students to track their learning and take control. A teacher might assign projects (as a learning label) to students directly or assign 20 of 40 projects and let the students choose. Second, thinking in skills and their underlying methods and applications is a focal point of the labels and dashboard, so is an ideal way to express experiential learning expectations and outcomes.
Hopefully, you start to see Skills Labels on website and mobile applications, search engine result pages (SERPs), in LMS systems (like Google Classroom), or on printed displays. The intention behind this patent pending utility is to establish a standardized display for learning in any task or experience, so it could potentially be viewed in each of these platforms.
(There is a companion application, Skill Syllabi, where a teacher or professor can assign a collection of Skills Labels. In addition, Skills Label will have its own search engine to find learning resources.)
First question I hear about these Skills / Learning Labels is (from a student, parent or teacher): What do I actually do with them?
You might simply view the learning label once and use it as a basis on comparison and utility to decide whether to: play an online game, try a virtual reality experience, take a course, or do a classroom activity.
But I see value in collecting these learning labels over time. I wanted to introduce you to a new dashboard for Skills Label, where you can collect, organize, and use labels over a period. The diagram above demonstrates what (an initial iteration) of this dashboard looks like. (Already working on the next iteration, with new functionality related to concentrating on skills.) Here is a video demonstration.
A student assigns labels to a set of ‘collections’, which they name and choose a color for. Going forward, the student can then reassign labels to collections, and access them in a user friendly tiled interface. This dashboard has features to filter and sort by collections and label characteristics. Much of this can be accomplished by drag and drop, and other intuitive interactions.
I have written what I believe is a convincing argument that collecting these labels is a way to track lifelong learning.
Start creating your Skills Labels! Let me know what you think of this exciting, new technology.
I have been working on tracking skills in applications for six years now, and I am convinced we need to get a level deeper by tracking the imparting of methods (represented as a framework) and applications (technology or specific use) in applying skills. Much of this is done implicitly (as teacher’s and experts know the methods they are teaching), but let’s make it explicit by tracking what methods students and young professionals are learning.
Four big reasons why:
- Basis to understand a competency. There is not much value in saying: “I have been applying critical thinking for ten years.” But if you can say: “I induce, deduce, verify and summarize when I solve a problem. Give me one and I will show you.” Then, demonstrate… There is context.
- Move forward in learning a skill. Some skills, like ones related to communication, you learn throughout your life. The methods you apply might gradually become more sophisticated.
- Signal chosen methods and applications. Some technical skills are extremely broad and do not mean much on their own. For example, someone applies the skill of ‘Economic Analysis’ in many different ways. Or a web designer chooses a scripting language ASP .Net, Java, or PHP.
- Situational application of skill. Different situations, require different applications of skill.
I have started to integrate ‘methods and applications’ into my suite of applications: Skills Based Approach, Skill Syllabi, Skills Label and Skills Culture. These applications share a common database and search engine.
With Skills Culture, I have created a search engine with has a SERP page for ‘one skill’ shown above. This is for one of the most in demand skills: Critical Thinking. On the left, you get the definition and collapsible sections of suggested matches for traits, fields, and jobs. On the right, you get a section for the methodologies. (In the graphic above, you see two methodologies and one expanded with a diagram and details or descriptions on using the methodology.)
What is the added value of this search engine compared to others?
- Assign desired methodologies onto a Skills Label, where it displays on the label
- Use the methodologies in Skills Based Approach – a platform for tracking learning. A user can assign skills and their methods as a task.
- Create and share methodologies with students and colleagues. Create an account, choose a skill, and add your own methodology. Ideally, practitioners use this platform to distribute their methods with an audience. Later iterations include a peer review system.
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.
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.