Reda Sadki Thinking aloud

Knowledge management has met its timely demise. No matter how sophisticated or agile, knowledge management (or “KM”)  remains fundamentally embedded in a container view of knowledge. Where the ephemeral and superficial nature of social media reflects the failure of communication in the Twenty-First Century, KM’s demise stems from the Chief Information Officer’s view of knowledge as discrete packets of data, each one destined to be filed in its own pigeon hole. The death of KM is a soulless one, because it is devoid of culture. Even though KM shares commonalities with publishing (static knowledge, expertise frozen in time), the latter adds the significance of culture (whether organizational or literary) to the flow of knowledge. A book as an object (physical or electronic) does not confuse the container with the message or the processes that infuse the former with meaning. Photo: Tables in disused autopsy room (Eric Allix Rogers/Flickr)

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 …

Opencast Mine / Tagebau - Garzweiler / NRW / Germany

Opening workplace learning

Reda Sadki Thinking aloud, Writing

For organizations, the paradigm of workplace learning remains focused on internal development of staff, on the premise that staff need to be learning to improve, if only to keep their knowledge and competencies current. In the past, education advocates struggled to gain recognition for the need to continually learn in the workplace. Opening workplace learning was difficult to justify or finance due to the economy of effort required to deploy educational activities. In today’s hyper-connected world, organizations can no longer afford to restrict their educational activities to their own staff. Nor can they rationally allow for such activities to be limited to ad hoc face-to-face ‘trainings’ that do not scale. They need to reach their target audiences through education if they want the knowledge they produce to have more than superficial impact. This is part and parcel of sustainability. Closed learning restricted to the workplace is the knowledge economy equivalent of strip-mining. Photo: Opencast Mine, Germany (TablinumCarlson/Flickr).

Summer leaves near Annecy Gorges de Fier

In the leafy month of June

Reda Sadki Thinking aloud, Travel

June is good busy. Here are three highlights. Wednesday and Thursday 4-5 June 2014 I’ll be at the second Google Course Builder Faculty Workshop in Zurich. Google engineers built their own platform to host courses internally, but soon offered public-facing courses like “Power searching with Google”, and then open-sourced Google Course Builder. For an organization that seeks to retain full control of its content and data, Course Builder is one of only two MOOC-era open-source platforms available. (The other one is OpenEdX. Moodle is the elephant in the room). The workshop will bring together 30 learning leaders from universities, companies, and non-profit organizations to share diverse experiences, ranging from citizen math to entrepreneurship and global health. Only downside: this workshop overlaps with EdX’s Future Edu. Then, for two days, I’ll be in the open online symposium on scaling corporate learning, on 18-19 June 2014, organized by George Siemens and hosted by Corp U. Last but not …

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 …

MAVEN Atlas V Launch

A question of such immense and worldwide importance

Reda Sadki Thinking aloud

Scale: Predictions over the impact of climate change and globalization suggest that we will see more frequent disasters in a greater number of countries, along with more civil unrest in those states less able to cope with this rapidly changing environment, all generating a greater demand for humanitarian and development assistance (cf. Walker, P., Russ, C., 2012. Fit for purpose: the role of modern professionalism in evolving the humanitarian endeavour. International Review of the Red Cross 93, 1193–1210.) Complexity: The world’s problems are characterized by volatility, uncertainty, and complexity in a knowledge society. The industry to tackle these growing challenges has expanded rapidly to become increasingly professionalized, with a concentrated number of global players increasingly focused on the professionalization of more than 600,000 paid aid workers and over 17 million volunteers active worldwide in UN agencies, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and the main international non governmental organizations (INGOs). …

Lifebuoy soap for health


Reda Sadki Thinking aloud

In a complex, knowledge-driven society, learning, education and training are key to sustainability. Sustainability initiatives need to explicitly make learning strategic in order to succeed in the face of growing challenges. No organization, no sector can do so alone. Professionalization alone is not the answer. Education is failing to prepare humanity for disasters, climate change, globalization or conflicts. Existing partnerships do not address this gap. Attempting to do more of what has been done in the past is not the answer. There are three main reasons why a profit-making enterprise has a shared interest in sustainability: To increase and maintain stability To resolve crises so that business can continue To improve the economy This is what links profit and non-profit sectors. Learning is the unexplored conduit. Photo credit: Under the floorboard

Chicken crossing the road

Panamanian chicken

Reda Sadki Thinking aloud, Travel

Why did the chicken cross the road? Lunch time, after a jet-lagged conference morning. Hand shakes and smiles, mingling Spanish and English. Forks and knives scrape plates as we skewer the plump, roast chicken. Within the first 90 seconds, I am being mandated or tasked to request funding immediately upon returning to headquarters. Before dessert, we are exploring how Caribbean and Asia Pacific island nations could – should – work together on sustainability. There is funding for that, too. Pause. Smile. Eyes light up.  Puckers his lips. Whispers. Confides. “Cross-cutting.” “It’s a magic word,” he bursts out. Say this word and you are skewering the organizational silos. You are cutting through the red tape. You are opening the doors to the world. You are bridging the gap. Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side, of course.

There is no spoon

There is no scale

Reda Sadki Thinking aloud

So, you are unhappy with a five percent completion rate. Hire tutors (lots of them, if it is massive). Try to get machines to tutor. Use learners as tutors (never mind the pedagogical affordances, you only care about scale and completion). Set up automated phone calls to remind people to turn in their homework. Ring the (behaviorist) bell. Or not. Google’s Coursebuilder team has an interesting take on completion rates. Let’s start by asking learners what they want to achieve. Then examine their behavior against their own expectations, rather than against fixed criteria. Surprise, surprise: take learner agency into consideration, and it turns out that most folks finish… what they wanted to. Bill Cope has an interesting take on scale. He says: there is no scale. It is not only that face-to-face/online is a false dichotomy. The intimacy of learning can be recreated, irregardless of how many people are learning. …

Château de Divonne


Reda Sadki Thinking aloud

Demure, soft-spoken, personable, affable, no-nonsense. All those things, in that peculiarly North American way. Those words don’t do justice to B., the uniquely compelling individual I met for the second time last night in Divonne-les-Bains. To describe him as a living legend in the world of learning and development is accurate, but far from complete. The first time we met, our lunch turned into a nine-hour knee-to-knee exploratory journey of the linkages between corporate learning and the wicked problems of humanitarian education. Reflecting on his insights kept me awake at night. When I finally found sleep, it was only to find myself wrapped in vivid dreams in which the ideas became colors and shapes, many moving parts dancing in complex patterns. B. shared three lessons from a time when he set out on his own, leaving the comfort of an established organization. Lesson #1: Autonomy. Learn that being independent means …