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 …

Wet Times Square (Kenny Louie/

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 …

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 …

TC103-Tech tools and skills for emergency management-screenshot

Tech Change

Reda Sadki Innovation, Interviews, Learning strategy, Video

The Institute for Technology and Social Change is a private company based in Washington, D.C. Its web site offers a course catalogue focused on technological innovation. Timo Luege is a communication specialist who has spent the last seven years working for the humanitarian and development sector, a period during which large-scale disasters intersected with the rapid rise in mobile communication. Starting on Monday, he will be delivering TechChange’s course on technology tools and skills for emergency management for the third time. In this interview he answers the following questions: What will I be able to do after taking the course that I couldn’t do before? Why should my manager pay for this, or at least support me? Why should my staff development or HR people support me to take this course? How will this help me to deliver for my organization – or to find my next job or mission? Humanitarian training …

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 …

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 …

Walking with a drone

Reda Sadki Personal, Thinking aloud, Video

We went up the Semnoz this afternoon, taking our two-and-a-half year old baby on a no-pram-allowed walk for the first time. In addition to the usual suspects (cows and goats, mostly), we also ran into Benoit Pereira Da Silva, an application developer at the helm of a contraption he uses to code and walk at the same time. If I understood correctly, he has programmed the drone to document his walks. Today, his 13-year-old son manually guided a small, buzzing quadcopter equipped with an onboard camera to capture HD footage.   Our baby sized up the little machine and its four buzzing rotors, perhaps with his recent interactions with the family Roomba (plastic and metal, moves and makes noise) and the flies (the buzzing and flying things around the cows) as reference points. Given the accelerating pace of technological change (cf. The Second Machine Age), I’m expecting that he will be growing up in a world populated …

Making learning strategic in development and humanitarian organizations

Reda Sadki Events, Learning strategy, Presentations

This is the third in a three-part presentation about learning strategy for development and humanitarian organizations. It was first presented to the People In Aid Learning & Development Network in London on 27 February 2014.

Scaling up humanitarian education: my presentation at the European MOOC Summit

Reda Sadki Events, Presentations

I’ve just published my presentation (25 minutes with slides) about the urgency of scaling up humanitarian education on This is a recording with both slides and my narrative, that looks at a number of issues: Training like it’s 1899 – and why we need to think about learning beyond training The need for scale – some indicative figures What is broken about humanitarian education VUCA – What has changed about the nature of knowledge and why it matters IGO/INGO MOOC models – things to consider is the new web site for Learning Strategies International, a talent network for people who yearn to help solve the ‘wicked’ learning problems of the humanitarian sector. Right now, the network is by invitation only. Just send me a message if you’d like access to the presentation. Link to European MOOC Summit presentation (for members)