Complexity in humanitarian and development

Online learning 101 for humanitarian managers and decision makers

Reda Sadki Learning strategy, Presentations

I’ve just posted on a comprehensive (65-minute) presentation intended for humanitarian managers and decision makers working in organizations without prior experience in online or distance learning. It includes numerous practical examples and case studies, as well as a description of the best available learning theory and best practice approaches most appropriate for the humanitarian learning context. Here are the 10 questions addressed: It’s not about technology. Really? What learning problems do you want to solve? What kind of online learning can prepare humanitarians? What do you need to know about costs, time, and complexity? Where’s the money? Do you need scale? Can you do more than transmit information with e-learning? If experience is the best teacher, how can e-learning help? Does e-learning work at all? How does all this fit together? This slide set was originally presented to the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) on 22 September 2014. It is available for members …


Thick knowledge

Reda Sadki Content strategy, Learning strategy, Quotes

Toby Mundy on books as thick knowledge: […]Books have a unique place in our civilisation […] because they are the only medium for thick descriptions of the world that human beings possess. By ‘thick’ description, I mean an extended, detailed, evidence-based, written interpretation of a subject. If you want to write a feature or blog or wikipedia entry, be it about the origins of the first world war; the authoritarian turn in Russia; or the causes and effects of the 2008 financial crisis, in the end you will have to refer to a book. Or at least refer to other people who have referred to books. Even the best magazine pieces and TV documentaries — and the best of these are very good indeed — are only puddle-deep compared with the thick descriptions laid out in books. They are ‘thin’ descriptions and the creators and authors of them will have referred extensively to books …

Lenses rainbow

Unified Knowledge Universe

Reda Sadki Content strategy, Learning design, Learning strategy, Writing

“Knowledge is the economy. What used to be the means has today become the end. Knowledge is a river, not a reservoir. A process, not a product. It’s the pipes that matter, because learning is in the network.” – George Siemens  in Knowing Knowledge (2006) Harnessing the proliferation of knowledge systems and the rapid pace of technological change is a key problem for 21st century organizations. When knowledge is more of a deluge than a trickle, old command-control methods of creating, controlling, and distributing knowledge encased in a container view do little to crack how we can tame this flood. How do you scaffold continual improvement in learning and knowledge production to maximize depth, dissemination and impact? A new approach is needed to apply multiple lenses to a specific organizational context. What the organization wants to enable, improve and accelerate: Give decision makers instant, ubiquitous and predictive access to all the knowledge in …

Baby at seven months

Seven months

Reda Sadki Quotes

Alan Todd, Founder and CEO, Corp U: Today’s workplace culture is evolving at a break-neck pace as technological advances, shifting demographics, and new economic realities force corporations to reorganize, on average, every seven months. The challenge is real. Fortunately, so are the solutions. Read Alan’s full post: The Science of Learning: How to Develop Mindsets for Success in the Workplace Photo: My baby at seven months, on a beach in Soulac, France. August 2012. Personal collection.

Learning dashboard

Elements of a learning dashboard

Reda Sadki Learning strategy, Theory

“What is clear is that a learning rich culture will emphasize informal learning and more open learning designs rather than relying only on formal training approaches. The learning infrastructure consists of all of the formal, informal, and incidental activities, systems, and policies that promote individual, team, and organizational learning and knowledge creation.” Source: Watkins, K., 2013. Building a Learning Dashboard. The HR Review 16–21.

Belle Nuit 1920x1080

Webcasts, then and now

Reda Sadki Events, Video

(No, this is not a post about the Apple keynote meltdown.) When I started organizing live webcast events for the first time in 2006, they required extensive technical preparation, specialized software and hardware, and – most important – a group of really smart people gifted with more than a little bit of luck to pull off each event. Even as recently as 2011, I remember a time in Budapest when my young cameraman (one of a team of four) announced to me that his fancy P2 broadcast-quality camera could not connect to his equally-fancy webcasting software. I ended up hacking our MacBook Pro’s webcam, piloted remotely from another laptop using VNC… It was exciting to transform what had been a local, 19th Century-style lecture series into a series of global participatory learning events, but so much energy had to be expended on the technical issues that many people missed the point about the amazing affordances of technology …


Games for health: 14 trick questions for Ben Sawyer

Reda Sadki Interviews

Ben Sawyer is the co-founder of both the Serious Games Initiative (2002) and the Games for Health Project (2004). He is one of the leading experts on the use of game technologies, talent, and design techniques for purposes beyond entertainment. He answered 14 questions by e-mail ahead of his presentation to the IFRC Global Health Team. 1. What is your favorite game? I used to reference an old RPG (role playing game) called Ultima IV. But, in reality, it’s Minecraft. Just such a great achievement and fun to play. 2. What is the worst “serious game” you have ever played? Most of them. 3. What is a game, anyway? A game by definition is a system, defined by rules, where people engage in defined competition to achieve a quantifiable outcome either against an opponent or the system itself. There are many dictionary-style definitions. In reality, a game is a mediated experience. …

Contradiction – Kyoto Train Station (Stéfan/flickr)


Reda Sadki Thinking aloud

4:35 p.m. “My working hypothesis is that the learning that matters is mostly incidental and informal.” “Maybe,” he smiled. “Yet, my conviction that we need to explore this is grounded in my formal training in knowledge management.” 5:17 p.m.  “When we are under-funded and overwhelmed,” he sighed, “is just not the right time to go off on a tangential project!” “I won’t argue with you. Let us go through with it to determine how useless it is to trade short-term survival tactics for long-term strategic thinking.”   Photo: Contradiction, Tokyo train station (Stéfan/flickr).  

On target


Reda Sadki Learning design, Learning strategy

Individually, team members continually learn in their respective area of work, by both formal and informal means. Most learning today happens by accretion, as a continual, networked (‘know-where’), and embedded process. However, occasions to share and reflect on best practice are rare, and may be felt to be interruptions or distractions from the ‘real work’ in one’s silo. Furthermore, online learning events (“webinars”) tend to be long (one hour is typical), require professionals to take “time out” from their work in order to learn, and do not provide the necessary linkage between knowledge acquired and its application to work (the “applicability problem”). To further continual learning, the practicum offers a 15-minute online presentation from a global thought leader on a topic directly relevant to the business. Participants are invited to watch the presentation together, and to stay together for face-to-face discussion (beyond 15 minutes) to determine practical ways in which the concepts and ideas may …