Use of Skills Label

The value of learning labels is clear. There is not a standardized way to represent learning expectations, Skills Label solves this problem. The labels create a basis of comparison among learning resources; the labels bridge learning expectations across education and career stages. The actual display (the label itself) is meant to be understood by all parties (students, parents, teachers, etc.) so is simple and concise.

Process

I understand learning is complex, but the labels are meant to summarize and provide an overview of a learning experience. To provide more context and deeper analysis of the learning, simply provide a link to a landing page for the resource.

If you are trying to implement “deeper learning” or “project based learning”, then use a series of labels to accomplish your goals. Perhaps even provide conditionals in the series: complete this task successfully then go to this learning label, if not, then go to this label.

What do students do with learning labels? They collect and manage them with drag and drop dashboard. Over time, students mark completed tasks and archive them when they are no longer needed.

What are Skill Points? They summarize learning for a task. As students work on tasks, they get Skills Points as they successfully complete tasks. Over time, a student shares the progress in learning a skill as a Skill Emblem.

As a practitioner (or what you expect of students), you might any or all of this functionality.

Skills Emblem

One problem with learning badges is a learner might collect hundreds, thousands of them through education and higher education. I am developing a Skills Emblem, which is essentially one learning badge for each skill you work on. Perhaps, a learner works on forty skills (so forty emblems) during this period. As a learner completes tasks (and progresses through their education), the information is updated automatically. Skills Emblems are dynamic learning badges.

One problem with verifying learning is so much learning takes place outside of the classroom. Skills Labels help bridge all learning expectations, such as self-guided and required learning. A Skills Emblem is a great way to present and validate learning.

Skills Emblem is a presentation of skill competencies, along with supporting information: number of tasks and hours working on the skill. As learners complete tasks, the elements are calculated and appear in green on the lower part of the emblem; likewise, as they collect tasks, they appear in blue on the top (as tasks in queue). The competencies are in the center – Skills Points. (Calculated with a proprietary algorithm based on time, difficulty and focus values.)

The designation between queued and completed work is useful by signaling to a learner and their audience how learning tasks are impacting their growth each step of the way.

All the data updates automatically as a learner consumes learning resources (represented as Skills Labels). At this stage, they are part of the Skills Label platform. In future iterations, these skill emblems will be accessible across platforms – like in social media, LMS systems, personal websites or portfolios, etc.

The information is meant to be used throughout education and career stages. Now, it is possible to work on and track the development of a skill like Critical Thinking throughout stages and across disciplines. Critical thinking is the benchmark of college education. So, a student might get credit for doing tasks in a humanities, economics, and statistics course (and so on).

A skill emblem represents a competency for a single skill, so a learner has many of them – one for each skill in their skill set. Useful for a learner navigating through a career. It becomes like a lifelong record of learning. A learner might evolve into other skills, but can always go back and access previous progress.

Skills Emblem is currently one aspect of a Skills Page, which is part of Skills Label application. This Skills Page will have other functionality, including a table to track, sort, and filter learning tasks over time (based on the consumption of Skills Labels). (This is still in the works.) Moreover, big differentiation, students and young professionals will be able to access standards and method and applications they have learned.

If you create learning resources, start creating Skills Labels for each of them; the resource is currently free!

New Skills Label Dashboard

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.

Dashboard Skills

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.

Start creating your Skills Label today. Learn about Skills Based Approach .

New Skills Label Dashboard

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.

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(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.

 

Exciting Time to be in Primary Education

Over the last few weeks, I have been working on a Skills Label for primary education. These labels bridge with the mainstream ones, so the whole process of finding and using the learning labels starts earlier. Now, the learning labels effectively work with K-12 education, higher education, and early career training.

prmaryedlabels

Through the process, I built labels for projects, games, and activities targeting STEM, STEAM, and basic skill development. It is exciting to see all the resources available for younger students. Some might seem surprising because they target what seems are mature skills, like learning to be an entrepreneur. And there are far better science projects – like creating a motorized LEGO object.

All of this is great for the students who have the ability, time and resources to participate in these projects. Not all students are prepared for these learning experiences, and it seems educators are still exploring how to incorporate this type of learning in the classroom. But, coming from a growth mindset – Skills Culture, I think students feel if they put the time and effort into acquiring skills, they should be able to acquire them.

Perhaps the biggest barriers are providing awareness what resources exist (many are free), motivating students to try them, and giving student the time they need. What is exciting is after students follow the instructions and complete the project – setting off a rocket, creating a business, or building a robot – they start to ask questions, such as: “How can I make a rocket fly higher and farther?”; “Can I actually sell my graphics and make money online?”; and “How do I get a robot to do a particular task?”.

This exploration in applied learning is plausible. Students have the opportunity to see what skills they might want to continue working on, perhaps even as a possible career. (This might also address the dismal high school engagement, or provide alternative paths to a job.)

Some of the other observations I had:

For many of the projects and games, there is a fair amount of information regarding what is being learned. But, it is all in a narrative. If you are an interested parent or teacher, you are going to have to read paragraphs discussing all the knowledge learned in a project. This learning summation is not precise and has a different format and style for each project, experience, or game. Skills Label sets the standard as a clear, concise, and quantitative way to measure what is being learned.

For many of the games, there are two kinds of games: old ones (many in Adobe Flash); and new ones (native applications, with depth to them). Finding the best games on Google is not easy. Many of the older games are higher ranking in search engines (due to number of years with a domain/link and cross linking), so it takes some time finding the best ones. I see this as a long-term benefit of Skills Label, building a search engine to find and make comparisons of learning resources; once enough educational publishers and game creators are using these labels, then this value – a specialized learning search engine – is realized.

If you create learning resources or are a teacher or professor, visit Skills Label and start creating labels.