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Towers of technology

Reda Sadki #DigitalScholar, Learning strategy

This came up in one of the Live Learning Moments in the first week of the Geneva Learning Foundation’s #DigitalScholar course: This is for Reda: I’m very used to the Coursera/EdX kind of LMS and I’m finding it difficult to follow the course related postings and schedules on the digital learning community currently. I just feel that we are missing some structure. This comment calls for reflection on the knowledge architecture of Scholar in relation to other technologies. In the first week of #Digital Scholar, we examined the architecture of the lecture and the classroom. I understand the yearning and the preference for a container view of knowledge, even though I believe the time has come to autopsy the discipline known as knowledge management. This view is reassuring because it is familiar. It mirrors the experience of mass industrial-age education that has shaped most of us. But does it correspond to …

Wet Times Square (Kenny Louie/flickr.com)

Choose your own adventure

Reda Sadki Learning strategy, Presentations

This is my presentation at the Online Learning Summit in London on 16 June 2015. I asked participants to choose between a set of four questions: Question #1: Why are learning, education and training so impervious to change? Number two is the Extinction Event question: It’s 2025. Your organization ceased to exist in 2020.  What happened? What was your role, i.e. the role of the learning leader in what happened?  What are you doing now? Question #3 is about LSi’s capabilities: What problems can we help you solve? And, last but not least, Question #4: why does e-learning suck? I will let you guess which question(s) were chosen for the discussion and workshop… Credit where credit is due: the Then-And-Now photo series is from a brilliant presentation by Michael T. Moe at the Global Leadership Congress held in Philadelphia a long time ago where I was a featured speaker. The Ferrari pit stop crew as …

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 …

Read the news (Georgie Pauwels/flickr.com)

Publishing as learning

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

We are both consumers and producers of publications, whether in print or online. Publications are static containers for knowledge from the pre-Internet era. Even if they are now mostly digital, the ways in which we think about them remains tied to the past. Nevertheless, at their best, they provide a useful reference point, baseline, or benchmark to establish a high-quality standard that is easy, cheap and effective to disseminate. In the worst, they take so much time to prepare that they are out of date even before they are ready for circulation, reflect consensus that is so watered-down as to be unusable, and are expensive – especially when printed copies are needed – to produce, disseminate, stock and revise. With respect to the knowledge we consume, some of us may heretically scorn formal guidelines and other publications. Reading as an activity “remains a challenge”. Others manage to set aside time to …

Empty (schnaars/flickr.com)

Why we secretly hate webinars

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Webinars reproduce the structure and format of the formal training workshop in an online space. The sole positive distinction for participants is that they may now participate from anywhere. However, to ask questions or otherwise contribute requires one to be present at a specific time (synchronously). Recordings of webinars are usually made available, so in theory we may catch up after the event but lose the ability to connect to others… and seldom actually do. If there wasn’t time (or justification) when it happened, that is unlikely to change later. Like the face-to-face workshops they emulate, webinars require us to stop work in order to learn, which we can seldom afford or justify. They are mostly transmissive, as the available tools (Webex, for example) do not facilitate conversation. By default, most facilitators will mute everyone in a conference to avoid an unintelligible cacophony of multiple squawking voices. Despite the existence …

Doc Porter Museum of Telephone History, Houston Texas, USA (Texas.713/flickr.com)

Why supposedly boring conference calls are actually amazing

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Where phone and Skype remain the gold standard for one-to-one communication (and learning), many of us find value in conference calls, irrespective of the technology (phone, Skype, Webex, Hangouts…) used. Conference calls may seem as unimpressive or mundane as that other piece of paradigm-changing learning technology, the whiteboard – but that’s the point. They are learning technology that is already embedded into the fabric of work, and directly contribute to informal and incidental learning across time and geography. The pedagogical affordances of conference calls include structure, transparency, dialogue, and accountability. Photo: Doc Porter Museum of Telephone History,  Houston Texas, USA (Texas.713/flickr.com)

Ici on consulte le bottin, panneau à la Closerie des Lilas, Paris (Hotels-HPRG/flickr.com)

How do we use technology to embed learning into work?

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Of the myriad technologies in use, we may find it useful to focus our attention on those that (1) are now widely used, to examine their benefits and the process for their acceptance; (2) continue to be used, despite the existence of better alternatives; or (3) are new and in use only by early adopters. We may also classify technologies depending on whether they are synchronous (need to be connected at the same time) or asynchronous (anytime, anywhere), networked (for group communication) or individual (self-initiated or self-guided). In this next series of posts, I’ll look at the relevance and limitations for learning of conference calls and webinars, as well as the place of print-centric publications in our learning (work) lives. Photo: Ici on consulte le bottin, panneau à la Closerie des Lilas, Paris (Hotels-HPRG/flickr.com)

More face (Stephanie Sicore/flickr.com)

Skepticism about learning innovation

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Online technologies have afforded us many ways in which we can now learn even when we are not in the same location. Yet, some of us remain skeptical about the impact of new technologies, and in particular about new ways of learning that rely on technology. We prefer to do things the way we have done them in the past. New approaches to learning may be seen as too complicated in our task-oriented learning culture. Furthermore, we question whether experience can be taught or transferred. With some members in the network, access to the Internet may be limited either due to resources, policies, or culture, deepening the Digital Divide even for simple tools that many of us take for granted. And, of course, we remain attached to the face-to-face culture that has been our primary source of learning, enabling us to form our networks of trust, to directly experience and …

Tons of shattered glass, Robert Smithson's Map of Broken Glass at the Dia:Beacon (Augie Ray/flickr.com)

We need learning processes, not just tools

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Knowledge management and informal learning processes are not resourced, even when the organization may have made a significant investment to build containers for knowledge or its sharing. This “build it and they will come” approach has failed, time and time again. Yet the seemingly intangible nature of knowledge and learning processes makes it difficult to build a case to resource learning itself. As a cross-cutting, often unrecognized activity that enables work rather than produces results, how do we convince donors that it is worth the investment – paradoxically when donors are increasingly skeptical about the value of formal training? Photo: Tons of shattered glass, Robert Smithson’s Map of Broken Glass at the Dia:Beacon (Augie Ray/flickr.com)

Shards (Martin/flickr.com)

Wishful thinking cannot fix broken tools

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

“Continuous learning at the individual level is necessary but not sufficient to influence perceived changes in [performance]. […] Learning must be captured and embedded in ongoing systems, practices, and structures so that it can be shared and regularly used to intentionally improve changes in [performance]” (Marsick and Watkins 2003:134). “I still can’t find it. And I still need to work on it. It’s a mess.” “That’s a struggle. I don’t have a good system on that.” In the last five years, we have mainstreamed the use of electronic media for communication and, to a lesser extent, for formal learning. The tools we use in learning (whether formal or informal) may change, based on need and context. We know that constant and rapid advances in technology and their costs make it difficult for headquarters (center) and field (periphery) alike  to afford or use the latest, cutting-edge tools. Tools that are officially …