Seventh Epidemiological Training Workshop for Biologists Draws 48 Participants from Outside Organizations

New learning for radiation emergency medical preparedness and assistance

Reda Sadki Events, Presentations

My presentation for the Geneva Learning Foundation at the 15th meeting of the WHO Radiation Emergency Medical Preparedness and Assistance Network (REMPAN), World Health Organization, Geneva – 3-5 July 2017. Featured image: Participants of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation’s (RERF) Seventh Epidemiological Training Workshop for Biologists. The objective of the RERF is to conduct research and studies for peaceful purposes on medical effects of radiation and associated diseases in humans, with a view to contributing to maintenance of the health and welfare of the atomic bomb (A-bomb) survivors and to enhancement of the health of all humankind.

Blossoming across both digital and physical spaces

Meeting of the minds

Reda Sadki Events, Presentations, Theory

This is my presentation for the Geneva Learning Foundation, first made at the Swiss Knowledge Management Forum (SKMF) round table held on 8 September 2016 at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). Its title is “Meeting of the minds: Rethinking our assumptions about the superiority of face-to-face encounters.” It is an exploration of the impact of rapid change that encompasses learning at scale, the performance revolution, complexity and volatility, and what Nathan Jurgenson calls the IRL fetish. The point is not to invert assumptions about the superiority of one medium over another. Rather, it is to look at the context for change, thinking through the challenges we face, with a specific, pragmatic focus on learning problems such as: You have an existing high-cost, low-volume face-to-face learning initiative, but need to train more people (scale). You want learning to be immediately practical and relevant for practitioners (performance). You need to achieve higher-order learning (complexity), beyond information transmission to …

Digital learning with the Geneva Learning Foundation

Beyond MOOCs: the democratization of digital learning

Reda Sadki Events

It is with some trepidation that I announce the Geneva Learning Foundation’s first open access digital course in partnership with the University of Illinois College of Education and Learning Strategies International. The mission of the brand-new Geneva Learning Foundation is to connect learning leaders to research, invent, and trial breakthrough approaches for new learning, talent and leadership as a way of shaping humanity and society for the better. This open access, four-week (16 hours total) online course will start on 4 July 2016 and end on the 29th. It will be taught by Bill Cope, Catherine Russ, and myself, three of the eleven charter members of the Foundation. We’ll be using Scholar to teach the latest digital learning pedagogies. Everyone will develop, peer review, and revise an outline for a course relevant to their own context of work. This outline is intended to be the practical basis for developing and offering an actual course – so this is no academic exercise. The …

The last Saturn V launch carried the Skylab space station to low Earth orbit in place of the third stage (Wikipedia/public domain)

Education Moonshot Summit

Reda Sadki Events

This should be fun (and interesting). I’ll be heading to Amsterdam on July 21st for Google EDU’s Moonshot Summit. This event aims to bring “together top innovators from around the globe to design moonshot projects that will be launched in the Fall”. Attendees were selected, we are told, because of our “experience and belief that education can be improved for innovation”. The moonshot co-exists with skunk works, DARPA, braintrust and many other terms that describe the conditions, process, or outcomes that foster and drive innovation. Google’s concept of a moonshot intersects innovation and scale, and posits that, in specific circumstances, scaling up can define innovation. “Instead of a mere 10% gain” Google’s Project X team explains, “a moonshot aims for a 10x improvement over what currently exists”: The combination of a huge problem, a radical solution to that problem, and the breakthrough technology that just might make that solution possible, is the essence …

All the way down (Amancay Maahs/

Can analysis and critical thinking be taught online in the humanitarian context?

Reda Sadki Events, Learning design, Presentations

This is my presentation at the First International Forum on Humanitarian Online Training (IFHOLT) organized by the University of Geneva on 12 June 2015. I describe some early findings from research and practice that aim to go beyond “click-through” e-learning that stops at knowledge transmission. Such transmissive approaches replicate traditional training methods prevalent in the humanitarian context, but are both ineffective and irrelevant when it comes to teaching and learning the critical thinking skills that are needed to operate in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environments faced by humanitarian teams. Nor can such approaches foster collaborative leadership and team work. Most people recognize this, but then invoke blended learning as the solution. Is it that – or is it just a cop-out to avoid deeper questioning and enquiry of our models for teaching and learning in the humanitarian (and development) space? If not, what is the alternative? This is what I explore in just under twenty …

Peter Paul Rubens. From 1577 to 1640. Antwerp. Medusa's head. KHM Vienna.

Experience and blended learning: two heads of the humanitarian training chimera

Reda Sadki Design, Events, Learning design, Learning strategy, Thinking aloud

Experience is the best teacher, we say. This is a testament to our lack of applicable quality standards for training and its professionalization, our inability to act on what has consequently become the fairly empty mantra of 70-20-10, and the blinders that keep the economics (low-volume, high-cost face-to-face training with no measurable outcomes pays the bills of many humanitarian workers, and per diem feeds many trainees…) of humanitarian education out of the picture. We are still dropping people into the deep end of the pool (i.e., mission) and hoping that they somehow figure out how to swim. We are where the National Basketball Association in the United States was in 1976. However, if the Kermit Washingtons in our space were to call our Pete Newells (i.e., those of us who design, deliver, or manage humanitarian training), what do we have to offer? The corollary to this question is why no one seems to care? How …

Sunrise Over Cape Yamu Phuket Thailand Panorama (Kim Seng Suivre/

3 critical questions for the new Humanitarian Leadership Academy

Reda Sadki Events, Learning strategy

This morning, I’m looking forward to the London launch event for Save The Children’s Humanitarian Leadership Academy, touted by the Guardian as the “world’s first academy for humanitarian relief” that “may revolutionize” the sector. I ask the following three questions as a sympathetic observer: the Academy’s focus on the learning need for improved and scaled capacity in the face of growing humanitarian challenges is spot on. Now comes the execution. Is the Academy a platform or a hub? There are two possible roles for the Academy: as a connector, hub or platform for others and as a platform of its own (developing and delivering its own content). They certainly can overlap, but then how will the Academy both collaborate and compete for limited resources with already-established specialized training organizations? Is it a knowledge broker, catalyst, and connector – or an implementer? How will Save The Children – which has invested so much in the launch – …

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 …

City view of Beirut, Lebanon on June 1, 2014. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

Scaling up critical thinking against extreme poverty

Reda Sadki Events, Interviews, Learning strategy, Writing

In three years, the World Bank’s e-Institute enrolled 50,000 learners through small, tutor-led online courses and webinars. Its first MOOC, run on Coursera’s platform for four weeks, reached 19,500. More MOOCs are in preparation, with the next one, based on the flagship World Development Report, launching on June 30th (details here). However, the need for scale is only one consideration in a comprehensive strategic vision of how learning innovation in all its forms can be harnessed to foster new kinds of leadership and accelerate development. In this candid conversation recorded at the Scaling corporate learning online symposium, I asked Abha Joshi-Ghani, the World Bank’s Director for Knowledge Exchange and Learning, to present some early data points from the Bank’s first MOOC, situating it within a broader history of engagement in distance and online learning. Joshi-Ghani describes the partnership, business and production models for its pilot MOOC. She also shares some early …