Online learning 101: Approaches

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

There are myriad approaches to online learning. I’ve selected three. One of them should no longer be recommended. This is the production of information modules that test information recall. In some cases, aware of the limited outcomes using this approach, attempts have been made to encourage reflection or analysis, but then the limitation of the approach leaves the learner with limited or no formative feedback and reductive forms of assessment. We need to stop producing these “click-click” modules, as they are teaching all of the wrong things, even if the subject matter content is spot on. They are purely transmissive, leaving the learner to passively consume information. They substitute multimedia bells and whistle for substance. Their only real usefulness, in the past, was to introduce people in the sector to “e-learning” as a digital version of transmissive trainings in which the slide deck is the pedagogy.

The other two approaches, fortunately, are grounded in more constructive (and constructivist) pedagogies. They have been shown to scaffold, support and promote realistic outcomes that matter for developing competencies around analysis, team work and leadership. Once we realize that how we teach is at least as important as what we teach, these two distinct approaches open up new possibilities for humanitarian learning. They are the topic of much of my presenting, which reviews the evidence, case studies, and practical aspects of each.

Three online learning approaches relevant for humanitarians

Three online learning approaches relevant for humanitarians

This infographic is excerpted from a comprehensive (65 minutes) talk originally presented to the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) on 22 September 2014. Its content is largely based on my experience in managing a 1.7 million CHF pipeline of online course development. The full set and recording are available for members via this link. is a non-profit talent network for learning leaders from corporate, academic, and humanitarian/development sectors interested in solving wicked problems. (Note: there are some display problems on which should be fixed soon. Thank you for your patience.)