New learning and leadership for front-line community health workers facing danger

Reda Sadki Global public health, Learning design, Scholar Approach

This presentation was prepared for the second global meeting of the Health Care in Danger (HCiD) project in Geneva, Switzerland (17–18 May 2017). In October  2016, over 700 pre-hospital emergency workers from 70 countries signed up for the #Ambulance! initiative to “share experience and document situations of violence”. This initiative was led by Norwegian Red Cross and IFRC in partnership with the Geneva Learning Foundation, as part of the Health Care in Danger project. Over four weeks (equivalent to two days of learning time), participants documented 72 front-line incidents of violence and similar risks, and came up with practical approaches to dealing with such risks. This initiative builds on the Scholar Approach, developed by the University of Illinois College of Education, the Geneva Learning Foundation, and Learning Strategies International. In 2013, IFRC had piloted this approach to produce 105 case studies documenting learning in emergency operations. These are some of the questions which I address in …

Old cash register (Andrés Moreira/flickr)

Inventing by investing in new business models for humanitarian training

Reda Sadki Education business models, Thinking aloud

Through research and broad sector collaboration, a consensus has emerged on the recognition that uneven quality of personnel is a major limiting factor in humanitarian response, and that serious effort is needed to address the global gap in skills and build capacity of countries and local communities. At the same time, there is growing recognition that existing models for learning, education and training (LET) are not succeeding in addressing this gap, and that new approaches are needed. Structured learning has long been assumed to be an expenditure and, for a long time, remained unquestioned as a necessary investment. Yet learning advocates increasingly find themselves in a defensive posture, in part due to the complexity involved in correlating education initiatives with measurable outcomes for a cost centre. However, new business models point to education driven by demand that can not only cover its own costs but generate revenue to be reinvested …

All the way down (Amancay Maahs/flickr.com)

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 …

The Infinity Room (The House on the Rock) (Justin Kern/Flickr)

7 key questions when designing a learning system

Reda Sadki Learning, Learning design

In the design of a learning system for humanitarians, the following questions should be given careful consideration: Does each component of the system foster cross-cutting analysis and critical thinking competencies that are key to humanitarian leadership? Is the curriculum standardized across all components, with shared learning objectives and a common competency framework? Is the curriculum modular so that components may be tailored to focus on context-specific performance gaps? Does the system provide experiential learning (through scenario-based simulations) and foster collaboration (through social, peer-to-peer knowledge co-construction) in addition to knowledge transmission (instruction)? How are learning and performance outcomes evaluated? Are synergies between components of the learning system leveraged to minimized costs? Have the costs over time been correctly calculated by estimating both development and delivery costs? These questions emerged from the development of a learning system for market assessment last year, thinking through how to use learning innovation to achieve efficiency and effectiveness despite limited resources. Photo: The Infinity Room …

Climbing La Soufrière in Saint Vincent (Ian Usher/Flickr)

Soufrière

Reda Sadki Publishing, Quotes

“What I like,” whispered my dinner companion, “is that these publishing types have survived the fire of digital transformation, emerging out of the boiling pits of disruption, and all of that. Some were dismembered before, during, and after – acquired and merged, sold and resold. All paid a terrible price, but bear their bruises and scars proudly. They are not only smart but also scrappy, battle-seasoned veterans whose eyes still gleam with the thick knowledge that they produce. The culture (and, yes, the economy) that sustains their work is very much alive, circulating in networks that don’t care whether they are made of silicon or white matter. Blood, sweat and tears, man! And, yes, most if not all are showing a profit!” And then, like a drop of sulfuric acid on the rusty metal plate separating ‘education’ from ‘publishing’ in our fragmented knowledge universe: “Beats babbling on about 70-20-10, eh?” …

Bookshelves

Thick knowledge

Reda Sadki Content strategy, Learning strategy, Quotes

Toby Mundy on books as thick knowledge: […]Books have a unique place in our civilisation […] because they are the only medium for thick descriptions of the world that human beings possess. By ‘thick’ description, I mean an extended, detailed, evidence-based, written interpretation of a subject. If you want to write a feature or blog or wikipedia entry, be it about the origins of the first world war; the authoritarian turn in Russia; or the causes and effects of the 2008 financial crisis, in the end you will have to refer to a book. Or at least refer to other people who have referred to books. Even the best magazine pieces and TV documentaries — and the best of these are very good indeed — are only puddle-deep compared with the thick descriptions laid out in books. They are ‘thin’ descriptions and the creators and authors of them will have referred extensively to books …

Lenses rainbow

Unified Knowledge Universe

Reda Sadki Content strategy, Learning design, Learning strategy, Writing

“Knowledge is the economy. What used to be the means has today become the end. Knowledge is a river, not a reservoir. A process, not a product. It’s the pipes that matter, because learning is in the network.” – George Siemens  in Knowing Knowledge (2006) Harnessing the proliferation of knowledge systems and the rapid pace of technological change is a key problem for 21st century organizations. When knowledge is more of a deluge than a trickle, old command-control methods of creating, controlling, and distributing knowledge encased in a container view do little to crack how we can tame this flood. How do you scaffold continual improvement in learning and knowledge production to maximize depth, dissemination and impact? A new approach is needed to apply multiple lenses to a specific organizational context. What the organization wants to enable, improve and accelerate: Give decision makers instant, ubiquitous and predictive access to all the knowledge in …

On target

Practicum

Reda Sadki Learning design, Learning strategy

Individually, team members continually learn in their respective area of work, by both formal and informal means. Most learning today happens by accretion, as a continual, networked (‘know-where’), and embedded process. However, occasions to share and reflect on best practice are rare, and may be felt to be interruptions or distractions from the ‘real work’ in one’s silo. Furthermore, online learning events (“webinars”) tend to be long (one hour is typical), require professionals to take “time out” from their work in order to learn, and do not provide the necessary linkage between knowledge acquired and its application to work (the “applicability problem”). To further continual learning, the practicum offers a 15-minute online presentation from a global thought leader on a topic directly relevant to the business. Participants are invited to watch the presentation together, and to stay together for face-to-face discussion (beyond 15 minutes) to determine practical ways in which the concepts and ideas may …

Philadelphia, early morning

From communication to education

Reda Sadki Content strategy, Thinking aloud

There is of course an intimate relationship between communication and education. In many universities, both sit under the discipline of psychology. However, in most international organizations, these tend to be siloed functions. Communication often focuses on external media relations and, in the last few years, has expanded to take on the role of organizing social media presence. Education is reduced to ‘training’ or subsumed under staff (or talent) development, sometimes (but not always) inside of human resources. Worst-case scenario: an organization may not even have a centralized learning function, even though a quick survey would probably reveal that learning, education and training are at the core of its knowledge production and dissemination. Communication counts eyeballs, downloads, or retweets. Education tracks what is happening behind the eyeballs – and changes it, in measurable ways. This is equally true of the industrial-age classroom (and its organizational corollary, the training workshop) as it is of online learning environments that maximize technology’s amazing economy …