How Do You Measure Learning?

How Do You Measure Learning?

Over the past two months or so you have heard me talk about the end of college as we know it today. Kevin Carey goes into a lot of detail about this in his terrific book “The End of College.” He exposes the fact that Colleges and Universities have a monopoly on “the degree.” Without this monopoly there would be a significant change in the view of the value of this piece of paper: the parchment, the degree. You need that degree on your resume. It tells your prospective employer something about you. But it really doesn’t tell them much about what you know. It doesn’t really measure your learning.

The Internet is disrupting the universe of education,  just as it has most other aspects of our lives. As an example, the Khan Academy can take your children all the way from Kindergarten through graduating from High School.  It provides wonderful learning opportunities for children and young adults. There are learning avenues for professionals and university level courses. Businesses such as EdX and CorpU are disrupting this aspect of learning as well. We are involved with Learning Without Scars in this area: adult education.

The problem for on-line learning is a fundamental question: how do you measure the learning of the students? I started down this path with the book “The Six Value Medals, The essential tool for success in the 21st century,”by Edward de Bono. This is the gentleman that coined the phrase “Thinking outside of the box.” He assigns medals to knowledge and this got me thinking.

At Learning Without Scars, we are now using badges. We have four categories of badges based on the category of learning in each of our classes. We have split them into: Sales, Finance, Operations, Leadership. And we have four recognition levels for each of these learning categories: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. Then we have the badges and categories split into their respective departments: Parts, Service, Product Support Selling and Parts and Service Marketing. We struggled a bit in determining how to assign a specific value to each class. We came to the conclusion that each class would earn a badge and the accumulation of badges would be the differentiator. What we do is set a point value for each knowledge level within each category of learning for each department.

We are currently seeking input from our clients on how we should present these badges. Should they be a patch that can be put onto an employees’ uniform? Should they be put into a holder, like your name plate, with differing badges represented in a manner like a pin? Or even a pin that could be put on your collar. How should be present this? We are designing the badge to include Socrates and thinking we should use the wings to represent the discipline and department. Time will tell.

What I think will be the end game is that this could lead to a skill set requirement for each job category in the Parts and Service businesses. That could be compared to a Skill Set Inventory for each employee. Then we could be on the path to being able to provide a “meaningful” job certification with learning prerequisites. I believe that would be very helpful to the Industry.

I would have appreciated knowing what the prospective employee knew in an interview. Not just information obtained in the interview and discussion but an objective measure of the skills of the employee related to the job I was trying to fill. That is where we are trying to take the measurement of learning. That should allow us to more objectively measure the probability of success of each prospective employee. This will work particularly well when we start adapting and having remote employees, and more part time employees, this would work particularly well for people who have retired and want to keep working. After all they have a lot of knowledge.

Keep tuned in as we will continue to share information on this important area as we come to our conclusions. Please let us know how you would approach this important subject. If you would take a moment and send us an email it would be sincerely appreciated.

The Time is NOW.