Designing for Authenticated Skills™


I have recently met with several frustrated business owners and operators who have articulated that while they hire people with validated “pedigrees”, those same people often lack the skills to do the work most vital to their role in the organization. Many people have knowledge, but can they apply it?

In a previous Ease Learning blog titled “Designing Effective Learning for the Learning Economy”, the idea of learning design with a “Pull Approach” was defined as essential preparation for the Learning Economy, one in which we must remain curious and constantly update our skills for the rapidly changing demands of the world. A distinct approach is needed to address the complex job readiness issue that frustrated owners and operators are describing.

Job readiness is the accumulation of a variety of skills, in combination with a degree of mastery that allows someone to DO their role effectively. Surely they must know things, but they must also be able to apply that knowledge to effectively contribute to their organization. To move from “knowing” to “doing” is commonly the challenge facing employers in their talent pipelines. Three trends have emerged within this challenge:

  1. Specific skills are missing in organizations and employers are struggling to organize how to identify and catalog them

  2. Current training and methods of measuring skills are not effective or do not exist

  3. Organizations’ productivity is significantly impacted by missing skills

I recently discussed the types of skills that are broadly lacking and why this trend is growing in “The Corporate Skills Crisis”. Additionally, I discussed areas of focus that should be prioritized and what types of skills are desperately needed. But how does one structure learning to be more effective to solve these problems?

At Ease Learning, our main focus has been creating learning approaches that specifically aim to solve this skills gap. Specific design methodologies combined with our patented software, Skillways, allow us to curate Authenticated Skills™. This process includes three main components:

  1. Identifying the missing skills that contribute to organizational deficiencies 

  2. Design intentionally focused on learners being able to DO, not just know 

  3. Ongoing measurement, tracking, and analysis of specific skills profiles across an organization


What does it mean to curate Authenticated Skills™?

Based on work by Cathrael Kazin, Volta Learning Group, opportunities to measure learning must be present in both authentic and performance based approaches. Authenticity in an assignment provides context and relevancy and is an important part of fostering understanding and tapping into prior knowledge. Performance based opportunities extend understanding by creating environments for learners to execute real world skills in an authentic context.

Time on task is not a critical element, as performance and incremental levels of mastery are most important. Because of this, learner time may vary. Based on seat time, traditional, credit based learning is centered on spending a certain amount of time on something to “know it well.” This old paradigm was not geared for the Learning Economy. People have varied prior knowledge, and integrate new skills and concepts at different rates.

Skills stack, meaning that there are foundational skills and then more advanced skills that build on those. Building skills requires integration of knowledge, ongoing opportunities for application, and continuous feedback. Seeing mastery is not possible by only measuring what someone knows – we need ways to measure what they can DO. 

Some key characteristics that make Ease Learning’s process of curating Authentic Skills unique:

  • Learning is designed in stackable, skills aligned concepts that are modular in nature – we call these Authenticated SkillsTM Learning Units (ASLUs)

  • Rather than simply acquiring knowledge, higher order application of learning is the focal point of design – doing, not just knowing

  • Learning consistently includes real world context to ensure it is relevant and authentic  

  • Ability to measure learning in both authentic and performance based scenarios (Source: Cathreal Kazin, Volta Learning Group)


Authentic Performance Assessment Checklist

An assessment is both “authentic” and performance-based if it:

  • Is realistic

  • Requires “doing”

  • Involves judgement, problem-solving, or innovation

  • Replicates or simulates real-world context

  • Requires integration of knowledge and skills

  • Provides opportunities for feedback and practice

What is an Authenticated Skills Learning Unit (ASLU)

ASLU Model

  • Learner-focused

  • Flexible

  • Aligned to industry needs; employer validated

  • Designed with skills/competencies first

  • Assessments aligned to skills/competencies and integral to learning experience

  • Focused on what a learner will be able to demonstrate (performance-based)

Traditional Model

  • Focused on instruction

  • Linear

  • Aligned to theory over practical application

  • Designed with content/curriculum first

  • Assessments typically not aligned to skills/competencies

  • Focused on what a learner will know or understand


An example of an Authenticated Skills Learning Unit (ASLU)

Explore the Solutions

Higher Education

Higher Education

Our unique combination of learning design and development services, managed help desk support and skills assessment solutions prepare your students for the jobs of tomorrow and empower your instructors to deliver an inclusive experience for their students.

Corporate Solutions


Our tech-enabled solutions identify skills gaps in your workforce. Paired with our learning design and development services we help to fill those gaps with impactful, accessible and equitable program developments, assessments and improvements.

Healthcare Solutions


It is vital to create accountability and transparency around validation of skills in onboarding and ongoing training programs. We help you authenticate skills for various healthcare job tracks while powering your ongoing training solutions.

feedback 1

Learning Design

“I am so grateful for your patience with us throughout this process—we’ve been able to learn a lot with this pilot and have valued you all as thought partners in that work.”


Girlie Delacruz
Associate Vice Chancellor of Teaching and Learning at Northeastern University


“This work has illustrated mapping of existing nursing content to the draft AACN Essentials through the Skillways platform.  This offers us a way to move toward competency-based education by truly modularizing our content for small-bite delivery because we can measure progress toward outcomes as students proceed along individual paths.”

David Bodily
Director, ReNEW & RN-BSN Completion Programs University of Wyoming


“Thank you for all of your hard work and support! We appreciate your professionalism, knowledge, and participation in this wonderful experience to create two creative and dynamic courses.”

George Lacuesta

Help Desk

“Ease was always quick to work with us as an institution to quickly resolve issues. The follow up of agents was amazing.”

Nancy Artaz
Friends University