Technology and Inspiration

I got the inspiration for learning labels (Skills Label) as I was working on tasking in an application (Skills Based Approach). I wanted to reduce typing of information for each task, so with a learning label, one person creates the label and the information becomes available to all the users.

As I worked through the concept, I saw the potential of a learning label – a standard representation of learning expectations as a display. I decided to move forward with intellectual property (IP) protection for the technology. Two prior art searches (2016 and 2017) did not reveal any close matches. A market analysis conducted by me and business students found competing services (at some level), but there is clearly a niche and differentiation for the learning label technology.

I hear the remark: “So these Skills Labels, they are like nutritional labels but for learning (education)”. As I made clear the inspiration did not start with a nutritional label. Though later it had some influence. A nutritional label is a highly effective standard display, it: reads well – understandable to children to adults, informs, creates uniformity (measurements), and aids in making a basis of comparison. And these are also target attributes of learning labels. They are also a big deal: mandated in the US and every country uses them.

But I think the learning labels have significant other attributes:

  • Optimized for a digital experience. They are interactive, scalable vector graphics that appear well on any device.
  • Data can be interpolated over time. As learners consume resources, the data collected from the learning labels becomes available.
  • Link to standards. Most set of standards should work with learning labels.
  • Learning gain calculated as a number. Each label has calculated Skill Points to represent learning (the return part of a ROI). (Basis of one of the research projects described later.)
  • Interface to manage labels. Separate interfaces for learners and practitioners to manage labels.

With the grant, looking to move forward with two research projects and resources to sell / market the product (if this is a possible use of grant funding).

Proposed Research Projects

I started building the system in 2016 (around the same time I applied for patents) and it is fully constructed. I worked with a number of reputable, major universities through the years (two formal UI tests by RIT graduate students; market value and IP landscape by Syracuse University). I am looking for the future (5 to 10 years) regarding two research projects. Already talked to directors at universities where the research could take place. I have written a paper and videos pitching these projects.

For the first research project (Skills Points 2.0) I propose determining growth rates for skills on a skill by skill basis. To accomplish this, there are four mutually exclusive scenarios (which can be initiated at any time): conduct a time longitude study; map learning labels with current credit hour system; track learning by human learners; and track learning by machine learning. The results are particularly interesting for soft and thinking skills. And the coefficients plug into a next generation learning measurement: Skill Points (improve and add science to the current algorithm).

For the second research project (moving from screens to a system), I propose moving the screens and displays of learning labels into an interactive system. This is analogous to a messaging or operating system. The seeds of this are described in the patent applications (in 2016). The value proposition is this type of system works well with interactive books, games, and VR resources -the future of learning.

Marketability

Plan to introduce a three-tiered pricing subscription with a basic free tier, and a free trial for one of the paid services. Also, allow institutions to purchase the learning labels in bulk (on a per label basis). (Learning label counts and turning on and off features is built into the system. Though I am not currently charging for accounts.) So, teachers, professors, and learning practitioners create labels themselves. Also, the education publisher, game creators, and book authors create learning labels for their resources. Learners get to use the service for free.

Another revenue source is with verifying the accuracy of the labels. (For reference, think of the nutritional label stamp of approval by the FDA.) The system already includes a full peer review process. This same functionality could be used by standards providers or experts evaluating learning labels. Verifying the accuracy of learning labels is the number one request by practitioners in the field.

Education, higher education, and training standard providers might use the learning labels as a vehicle in delivering their standards to the practitioners and learners. This is an ideal platform for finding, assigning and representing all standards.

A challenge is working with learning practitioners where there is so much leverage with institution wide platforms for LMSs, credentialing, and education publishers. The response for learning labels is they are meant to work with these systems and not opposed to them. For example, there is a one-click import into Google Classroom as an assignment; does exactly what it is intended to accomplish. A learning labels is the standard for expressing learning expectations for a single unit of learning - need to convince learning practitioners to adopt the standard.

Team

Ryan M. Frischmann leads the team. His education background is in business (BS - SUNY Geneseo and 1 year towards MBA - University of Maryland) and computer applications. His experience includes more than 15 years in application, software, web development. He is an author of two books. He formally applied for the patent behind the technology in this grant. He designed and built the system.

He started a DBA in 2011. Skill development was always a focal point of the service offered by the company. Skills Based Approach is a methodology for lifelong learning; learners constantly cycle through four stages with an evolving skill set. Skills Label is a system to track and manage skills (primary focus of this grant proposal). Skills Culture is a growth mindset for learning. The methodology, system, and growth mindset work together as a platform for lifelong learning.

Looking to add a team member specializing in sales (a huge need right now). I made connections with research institutions and professors who will participate in the two research projects.