Two trees in Manigot. Personal collection.

Missed opportunities (2): How one selfish learner can undermine peer learning

Reda Sadki #DigitalScholar

The idea that adult learners have much to learn from each other is fairly consensual. The practice of peer learning, however, requires un-learning much of what has been ingrained over years of schooling. We have internalized the conviction that significant learning requires expert feedback. In a recent course organized by the Geneva Learning Foundation in partnership with an international NGO, members of the group initially showed little or no interest in learning from each other. Even the remote coffee, an activity in which we randomly twin participants who then connect informally, generated only moderate enthusiasm… where in other courses, we have to remind folks to stop socializing and focus on the course work. One participant told us that “peer support was quite unexpected”, adding that “it is the first time I see it in a course.” When we reached out to participants to help those among them who had not completed …

Mother and child. Fountain on the roundabout, Kigali Convention Centre, Rwanda (personal collection)

Missed opportunities (1): making a dent requires rethinking how we construct medical education

Reda Sadki #DigitalScholar

“We are training 30 people to become doctors. My focus is on developing content for open educational resources (OER) that we can use to transmit foundational knowledge.” Training 30 people at a time is not going to make a dent. Cost and scale are related. Quality does not need to diminish against lower cost or higher scale. OER are obviously about producing knowledge, but seldom question agency in epistemology. How do we know what know? Who knows how we know? Is the democratization of learning about producing new resources by conventional means, albeit in an African context in partnership with a U.S. university? I realize then that we understand the content trap in very different ways. For me, it is avoided by embracing pedagogical transformation from transmission to knowledge co-construction. The trap is to remain mired in transmissive modes in a world of content abundance. For various reasons, some people …

Efteling gold fish. Personal collection.

Why learning professionals should strive to be leaders, not just service providers

Reda Sadki #DigitalScholar, Leadership

The learning landscape is changing fast. Even the most jurassic face-to-face trainers I know are now embracing the digital transformation or at least trying to. Ephemeral fads such as the Social Age or gamification are proliferating alongside newer, more sustainable and productive approaches that match the learning contexts of humanitarians and support the development of their capabilities in a volatile world. Everyone in workplace learning – save a few proverbial ostriches going the way of the dodo bird – is trying to learn the new skills needed to operate in new ways to do new things. This is like a dream come true. But rethinking our roles, I believe, is going to be far more important than learning to run a webinar. Are we service providers? Are we a support service (like HR, security, and finance)? Who are really our clients, when those who pay are seldom those who learn? …

Partially-melted chocolate

Hot fudge sundae

Reda Sadki Writing

Through their research on informal and incidental learning in the workplace, Karen Watkins and Victoria Marsick have produced one of the strongest evidence-based framework on how to strengthen learning culture to drive performance. Here, Karen Watkins shares an anecdote from a study of learning culture in which two teams from the same company both engaged in efforts to reward creative and innovative ideas and projects. However, one team generated far more ideas than the other. You won’t believe what turned out to be the cause of the drastically disparate outcomes.   I recorded Karen via Skype while she was helping me to perform my first learning practice audit, a mixed methods diagnostic that can provide an organization with new, practical ways to recognize, foster, and augment the learning that matters the most. Recognizing that the majority of learning, problem-solving, idea generation, and innovation do not happen in the training room …

Sinistar Wallpaper – Beware — I Live! (Retroist.com)

Why gamification is a disaster for humanitarian learning

Reda Sadki Thinking aloud

Is gamification an advantageous strategy that can help increase knowledge and application when it comes to humanitarian responses? What are these advantages? Can gamification contribute to better humanitarian preparedness? Certainly, if you have been forced to maniacally click through 500 screens of a boring “e-learning” from the past – dressed up with multicolored bells and whistles or cute little Flash animation – to finally get to the stupid quiz that is insulting your intelligence by asking you to recall what you will have forgotten tomorrow but that you need to pass to earn your stupid gold certificate before your field deployment, “gamification” sounds enticing. After all, you figured out how to game that e-learning module… so maybe games are the key to the future of humanitarian learning? Not. Is gamification one of the “current innovations in the field of learning”? Well, arguably, this may have been the case… over a decade …

Submarine control panel. Bowfin Submarine Museum, Pearl Harbor. Personal collection.

How do we measure the impact of informal and incidental learning on organizational performance?

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Evidence from learning science clearly identifies how to strengthen learning culture in ways that will drive performance. However, in a recent study conducted by Learning Strategies International (LSi), we quickly found limitations and gaps in the data available from the organization examined, despite the best effort by the organization’s staff to answer our questions and requests. We found two gaps that needed to be addressed before the most effective approaches to develop capabilities could  be applied usefully – and their impact measured: The gap between a commitment in principle to learning and skepticism about its actual value. (This gap surprised us.) Gaps in data and reporting needed to measure internal learning (and how to improve it). We believe that the first gap (skepticism about the value of learning) is the direct result of the second (lack of measurement). Without a measure of its impact on performance, internal (staff) learning is likely …

Painting at Trigonos (25 January 2017). Personal collection.

The future of learning that could have been

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

In June 2017, the Institute’s president, together with its Chief Learning Officer (CLO), convened an all-hands-on-deck meeting to announce the Institute’s commitment to strengthening its learning culture of innovation and change through an innovative, evidence-based internal learning strategy. Staff were invited to nominate and then elect representatives to the Learning & Development Committee (LDC), mandated with the challenge of ingraining learning “karma in the walls and halls” as key to delivering on its promise to prepare a new generation for the coming humanitarian challenges. In July, the Institute performed its first benchmark of learning culture and performance. This demonstrated that staff learning is key to mission, financial, and knowledge performance (ie, to delivering results). This benchmark was followed by a learning practice audit in August that woke both managers and staff to their existing strengths and the amazing ways in which they were already continually learning at the point of …

It's a dead end baby (Andrew Mason/flickr)

Debunking the “Social Age”, a dead end for humanitarian leadership practitioners

Reda Sadki Thinking aloud

“And I can see no reason why anyone should suppose that in the future the same motifs already heard will not be sounding still … put to use by reasonable men to reasonable ends, or by madmen to nonsense and disaster.” – Joseph Campbell, Foreword to The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology, 1969 Humans are social beings. If there is one constant in our experience, this is it. Of course, the tidal waves of digital transformation are reshaping the cultures of how we learn, share, communicate, and grow. But this constant remains. Claiming that our entry into a “Social Age” is the key to grappling with change is akin to clamoring that we are entering a new “Age of Transportation”. There are obviously new means such as electric cars. But to try to understand what is changing – and how we can learn, grow, and lead to harness change – through such …