LSi's 2015 greeting card

Bring on 2015!

Reda Sadki About this blog

A year ago, I announced the creation of Learning Strategies International, a talent network to connect learning leaders who yearn to solve ‘wicked’ knowledge problems. In its first twelve months, LSi has engaged with 700 leaders from 280 organizations to contribute to over 100 projects. In 2015, we will be announcing new services and partnerships emerging from connections initiated, nurtured, and strengthened in 2014. It is therefore with gratitude for your support and engagement that I share our Year 2 greeting card to wish readers of this blog a faster, smarter new year. Reda Photo credit: The Comet in Queenstown, 12 July 2012 (Trey Ratcliff/Flickr). Typography by designisgood.info for LSi.

Speaking of effigies (Dayna Bateman/Flickr)

Make a wish

Reda Sadki Learning strategy, Thinking aloud, Writing

Is the CLO really the ‘fifth wheel’ in the organizational strategy wagon? Learning leaders tend to roll their eyes upward in sour-faced agreement about ending up as an after thought – after strategic alignment has been completed everywhere else in the organization, or being considered as a support service to enable and implement rather than a partner. So, what to wish for? First, I would wish for an organization that is mission-driven. This is what everyone wishes for, of course, so let me try to be specific. The mission should inspire, giving everyone something to strive for, to encourage people and structure to reinvent themselves to face global complexity – with clarity that reinvention is a constant, not a one-off. It would require strong leadership, not command-and-control, but modelling the values and practices of the organization and the acceptance that uncertainty requires calculated risk-taking, now and tomorrow. Such distributed leadership requires a strong, vocal chief executive attuned to the …

Wicked signs (Aukje Dekker/Flickr)

What is a wicked problem?

Reda Sadki Innovation, Quotes

In 1973, Horst W.J. Rittel and Melvin M. Webber, two Berkeley professors, published an article in Policy Sciences introducing the notion of “wicked” social problems. The article, “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning,” named 10 properties that distinguished wicked problems from hard but ordinary problems. There is no definitive formulation of a wicked problem. It’s not possible to write a well-defined statement of the problem, as can be done with an ordinary problem. Wicked problems have no stopping rule. You can tell when you’ve reached a solution with an ordinary problem. With a wicked problem, the search for solutions never stops. Solutions to wicked problems are not true or false, but good or bad. Ordinary problems have solutions that can be objectively evaluated as right or wrong. Choosing a solution to a wicked problem is largely a matter of judgment. There is no immediate and no ultimate test of …

Climbing La Soufrière in Saint Vincent (Ian Usher/Flickr)

Soufrière

Reda Sadki Publishing, Quotes

“What I like,” whispered my dinner companion, “is that these publishing types have survived the fire of digital transformation, emerging out of the boiling pits of disruption, and all of that. Some were dismembered before, during, and after – acquired and merged, sold and resold. All paid a terrible price, but bear their bruises and scars proudly. They are not only smart but also scrappy, battle-seasoned veterans whose eyes still gleam with the thick knowledge that they produce. The culture (and, yes, the economy) that sustains their work is very much alive, circulating in networks that don’t care whether they are made of silicon or white matter. Blood, sweat and tears, man! And, yes, most if not all are showing a profit!” And then, like a drop of sulfuric acid on the rusty metal plate separating ‘education’ from ‘publishing’ in our fragmented knowledge universe: “Beats babbling on about 70-20-10, eh?” …

Pyramide d'abricot à La bague de Kenza (Paris)

Bite-sized update: higher education in fragile contexts, discovery without analytics, and the epistemology of learning culture

Reda Sadki Thinking aloud, Travel

As much as I wish this blog could document my reflections as I read, research, speak, and listen… it cannot. Knowledge is a process, not a product, in this VUCA world we live in. I know that I am doing too much, too fast, to be ale to process everything. Accepting this is part and parcel of navigating the knowledge landscape. So here is an incomplete round-up with some schematic thoughts about where I’m headed. Higher education in fragile contexts as a wicked problem: Most ed tech conferences I’ve attended are mostly male, and tend to focus on the education of those least-in-need. Inzone’s workshop on education in fragile contexts was at the other end of that spectrum, with a diverse team of scholars and practitioners coming together to tackle wicked learning problems such as how to ensure access to education for Syrian refugees in Turkey (access), what to do when refugee camp conditions are such …

TC103-Tech tools and skills for emergency management-screenshot

Tech Change

Reda Sadki Innovation, Interviews, Learning strategy, Video

The Institute for Technology and Social Change is a private company based in Washington, D.C. Its web site offers a course catalogue focused on technological innovation. Timo Luege is a communication specialist who has spent the last seven years working for the humanitarian and development sector, a period during which large-scale disasters intersected with the rapid rise in mobile communication. Starting on Monday, he will be delivering TechChange’s course on technology tools and skills for emergency management for the third time. In this interview he answers the following questions: What will I be able to do after taking the course that I couldn’t do before? Why should my manager pay for this, or at least support me? Why should my staff development or HR people support me to take this course? How will this help me to deliver for my organization – or to find my next job or mission? Humanitarian training …

Basketball practice

Practice practice practice

Reda Sadki Quotes

Is there any evidence that university-based continued professional development (CPD) fails when trying to develop competencies needed by humanitarian and development professionals? Or, to reframe the question, are traditional brick-and-mortar universities best equipped to support the lifelong learning journeys of people committed to this line of work? Then again, how could an industry that seldom evaluates its own training demand that universities be accountable for quality of learning outcomes? “Online delivery of education is also expanding rapidly to meet the career-specific education and training needs of adult populations. While such educational opportunities, including many at the sub-degree or certificate level, are increasingly important for social advancement and economic development, they are often not effectively accommodated within traditional higher education governance, financing and quality control mechanisms.” Source: Tremblay, K., Lalancette, D., Roseveare, D., 2012. Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes feasibility study report  volume 1-design and implementation. OECD, Paris, France

Young man at a vocational education and training center, Marrakesh, Morocco. © Dana Smillie / World Bank

Making humanitarians

Reda Sadki Learning strategy, Thinking aloud

The industry to tackle growing humanitarian and development challenges has expanded rapidly since the mid 1990s, but not nearly as fast as the scope and scale of the problems have spiraled. Professionalization was therefore correctly identified as a major challenge of its own, with over a decade of research led by Catherine Russ and others clearing the rubble to allow the sector to make sense of what needs to be done. The bottom line diagnosis is a now-familiar litany: a shortage of people and skills, lack of quality standards, inability to scale. Despite the growth of traditional university programs to credential specialized knowledge of these challenges and how to tackle them, young people armed with multiple masters find that they really start learning upon entering their first NGO. They face a dearth of entry-level positions (sometimes spending years as “interns” or other forms of under-recognized labor) and discover professional networks closed to them …

Online learning 101: Costs vs. efficacy

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Having presented three online learning approaches, here are three aspects to consider together: What is the cost of developing an online course based on each approach? What is the cost of delivering the course, per learner or per hour? What is the learning efficacy (outcome) that can be expected? Development costs for modules are comparatively expensive, as they are media-intensive and require complex production and technical skills. Often this leads to under-spending on the instructional design. The main attraction of this approach is its low delivery cost. It scales really well. Once you have a self-guided module online, the delivery cost is marginal. All of a sudden, you can abandon the elaborate schemes in place mostly to restrict access to limited numbers of seats. Unfortunately, the death knell for this approach is its limited efficacy. It doesn’t work very well and, probably, only marginally better than giving a motivated learner the …