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.

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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.

 

 

Skill Syllabi

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I wanted to come up with a good way to share a ‘collection of labels’ representing tasks for a course. So, I created Skill Syllabi – standard syllabi with additional sections and features to support the managing and tracking of skills. In addition, to address the collection, teachers use an interface to bring in the labels they have created into the syllabus (as shown in the diagram above).

Most teachers and professors are already using a learning management system (LMS). (I would like to get most LMSs to import and display the labels, like what has been accomplished with Google Classroom.)

Here are some arguments why you should consider Skills Syllabi (regardless whether you are using a LMS system):

  • Accepts a collection of Skills Labels. First create the labels, then create a syllabus and bring in the labels.
  • Provides options and a basis of comparison. From a collection, students choose twenty out of forty possible tasks. Students use the labels to make comparisons, then add them to their tasking.
  • Prioritizes skills. Starting to see a movement towards applied learning and thinking in skills, these syllabi distinguish how and when skills are applied in learning – a necessary addition to the traditional syllabus.
  • Fits on a page. Simple display, everything is readable from a single page in a browser.
  • Uses interactive features. When students are logged in, they can personalize and use the syllabus their own way.
  • Replaces a Word or PDF syllabus. If you are a professor, you are already creating a syllabus. Use this application instead of Word. Still, prints nicely from a browser.
  • Efficient, not time consuming. With the wizard, it is easy to make a new syllabus. If you create the labels, it takes seconds to import them into a LMS and the syllabus (and you assured of one display – label – wherever you use it).

As a new semester starts, consider using Skill Syllabi to build your syllabus and a way to assign a collection of Skills Labels to your students.

Versatile Learning Labels

It is clear I am a big supporter of skills. One of my common taglines is: ‘Skills are the Verb of Knowledge”. In our every single experience, we apply skills. Though, there is more to learning than acquiring skills.

As a basis for how we view and interpret situations, remembering ‘facts and information’ is necessary. Over time, it is also important to develop ‘perspectives’ on subject matter. Taken together, these three components (skills, facts and information, and perspectives) define knowledge.

Skills Label™ is versatile as a display for learning and acquiring knowledge. (As the name suggests) Skills are a focal point on the labels, and there are skill line items for each designation. Skill line items include a ‘focus’ and ‘difficulty level’, and two other important fields: ‘Skill Context’ and ‘Standard or Methodology’. Both fields are places to present a more in-depth learning experience.

‘Knowledge Gain’ captures an overall learning objective, particularly what is not necessarily covered by in the skills section.

Prerequisites are useful when a learner must have prior knowledge before attempting to use a learning resource. Create the prior knowledge in a series of prerequisites. (They appear as live links on the label.)

Finally, it is possible to include a short composition of instructions and more in-depth description of the learning resource on the ‘landing page’ for the Skills Label. Each Skills Label has a public URL, which has interactive features. Simply point your audience to this URL.

Skills Labels are meant to be as clear and concise as possible. The display is meant to be easy to understand, and include only content expressing what is needed to consume a learning resource and a subsequent ‘learning gain’.

The display is also meant to be portable. A learning label is represented as a standalone file. To implement and use the labels, create the learning label, then place the file on your website/ application. The labels are scalable, so even choose the size and space they take up.

(Recently had an interaction with someone who was concerned about implementing learning labels with their current platform. There is nothing to it. The labels render as an image in all browsers, image viewers, etc.)

I have developed a suite of applications based on acquiring skills that interact with each other (Skills Based Approach , Skills Culture, and Skill Syllabi), so the name – Skills Label – stuck. But, I have the domains learninglabel.com and educationlabel.com pointing to the same learning label concept.

Start Tracking the Underlying Methods and Applications of Skills

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.