Community health into the scalable, networked future of learning

Reda Sadki Writing

“At the heart of a strong National Society” explains Strategy 2020, “is its nationwide network of locally organized branches or units with members and volunteers who have agreed to abide by the Fundamental Principles and the statutes of their National Society.” To achieve this aim, National Societies share a deeply-rooted culture of face-to-face (FTF) learning through training. This local, community-based Red Cross Red Crescent culture of learning is profoundly social: by attending a “training” at their local branch, a newcomer meets other like-minded people who share their thirst for learning to make a better future. It is also peer education: trainers and other educators are often volunteers themselves, living in the same communities as their trainees. Although some National Societies have been early adopters of educational technology to deliver distance learning since the early 1990s – and IFRC’s Learning network has scaled up global educational opportunities since 2009 –, such …

Mobile learning: the “anywhere” in the affordance of ubiquity

Reda Sadki Writing

When I look at my Facebook friends online, I can see that most of them are connected, almost 24/7, via their phones. Those connected from a laptop or desktop computer (shown by a green dot instead of a little phone icon) are an ever-dwindling minority. As Scholar is meant to be a social application for learning, I thought it might be useful to reflect on what mobile means for learning. Recently, I invited mobile design expert Josh Clark to explain to a Red Cross audience why we should design our applications (including those for learning) using a mobile-first strategy. He’s not a learning guy, but I haven’t been able to find a learning expert with useful insights on these issues (as I explain in my conclusion). You can read about Josh’s work on the web here, for example: Josh’s first point is that we have a “condescending” view of mobile, …

Badges for online learning: gimmick or game-changer?

Reda Sadki Writing

As I’ve been thinking about building a MOOC for the 13.1 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers, I’ve become increasingly interested in connectivism. One of the platforms I’ve discovered is called P2PU (“Peer To Peer University”), which draws heavily on connectivist ideas. Surprise: on P2PU there is a debate raging on about badges, of all things. I initially scoffed. I’ve seen badges on Khan Academy and have read that they are very popular with learners, but did not really seriously consider these badges to be anything more than gimmicks. It turns out that badges are serious learning tools, and that makes sense from a connectivist perspective. A white paper from the Mozilla Foundation summarizes why and how, drawing on an earlier paper from P2PU’s co-founder Philipp Schmidt. George Siemens’s (2005) connectivism theory of learning is said to go “beyond traditional theories of learning (such as behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism) to include technology as a core element”. So badges in this theory would use …

Maybe old learning isn’t so bad, after all?

Reda Sadki Writing

When I first saw Professor Cope’s photos of a 1983 elementary school classroom, I scoffed. It was so obvious that the “communications and knowledge architecture” was one-way, focused on rote learning and rewarding good behavior which involved staying safely “inside the box”. How easy to critique, deconstructing all of the ways in which this particular “banking” form of education was unlikely to intentionally “deposit” anything that might actually be useful to the future lives of these school children. How awful, I thought, and how at odds with everything I try to put into practice with respect to my own professional role. Today’s MOOCs and flipped classrooms, with their objectives of making active knowledge-making ubiquitous, make 1983 look like the Dark Ages of education. And yet. And yet this classroom very closely resembles the ones in which I grew up, with 5th grade in 1980 as a reference point. And I …

Thinking about the first Red Cross Red Crescent MOOC

Reda Sadki Writing

You have no doubt heard about the Red Cross or Red Crescent. Some of you may be first aiders or otherwise already involved as volunteers in your community. My organization, the IFRC, federates the American Red Cross and the 186 other National Societies worldwide. These Societies share the same fundamental principles and work together to build resilient communities by reducing risks associated with disasters and, most important, by leveraging a community’s strengths into a long-term, sustainable future. The only distinguishing feature from one country to the next is the emblem in an otherwise secular movement: Muslim countries use a red crescent and Israel’s Magen David Adom uses the red “crystal” (offically recognized as an emblem) inside the star of David. Learning is a fundamental driver for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. People become volunteers, very often in their youth, to develop life-saving skills through extremely social forms of …

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The End of Paper: Interview with Richard Padley of Semantico

Reda Sadki Writing

At the 2010 Tools of Change for Publishing conference in Frankfurt, we met Richard Padley of Semantico. He spoke at the conference about mobile platforms from the perspective of publishers faced with multiple delivery models including apps and the web. We started off our interview with Richard Padley by asking: What does the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement mean to you? So, is it the end of paper? Even if I tell you that 30% of IFRC’s membership don’t have e-mail? Many people seem to think that PDF is a usable digital format for publications. So, what’s wrong with PDF? Even though EPUB is the basis for eBooks, in 2010 few people are familiar with this format. What’s right with EPUB? The Kindle is a single-purpose device. It does one thing, and is meant to it well enough to convince people who love printed books to cross the digital divide. …

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Katja Mruck on starting a peer-reviewed open access journal

Reda Sadki Writing

In 2001, Katja Mruck started a peer-reviewed multilingual open access journal FQS – Forum on qualitative social research. In this interview, recorded at the Third Conference on Scholarly Publishing in Berlin, Germany (28 September 2011), she explains what ingredients were needed to make the journal’s launch a success. Mruck is the Coordinator open access and e-publishing, Center for Digital Systems CeDis), Freie Universität Berlin.

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Stanford’s Juan Pablo Alperin on the Open Journal System (OJS)

Reda Sadki Writing

Red Cross learning and research online: Stanford’s Juan Pablo Alperin on the Open Journal System (OJS) * If I tell you that the International Red Cross is considering starting an electronic journal, does it make sense to you? * In starting up a journal, would you consider including a print edition for people in developing countries who don’t have access to online? * Where should we put resources: into helping people get access or into delivering printed materials to them? * How is a scholarly journal fit into a learning system, how does it contribute specifically to a learning system as opposed to other tools to learn about, in our context, development and humanitarian issues? * How can Open Journal System (OJS) contribute to the emergence of quality research and learning in developing countries? * What might be the incentive for scholars to publish in a Red Cross journal, if they already have access to established …