TOC Frankfurt Ignite! Presentation: Of Emergencies, E-Books, and Literacy

Reda Sadki Writing

In this session, Reda Sadki, will examine his own organisation’s non-profit publishing activities. With 750 publications given away each year in print and on the web, he has initiated an effort to rewire a traditional publishing workflow into a digital one, including the use of XML for layout automation, print-on-demand (POD) and e-books.

Reda Sadki is the Senior Officer for Design and Production of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the world’s largest humanitarian organisation. For over 15 years, Reda Sadki has worked with U.N. organisations and international and local NGOs to improve visual communication by implementing high-impact design and cost-effective production workflows. The premise for his design work is that visual design and brand management for a cause are fundamentally different from mainstream advertising whose sole motive is profit. Reda has overseen design and production for numerous high-profile global reports on public health issues, including seven successive editions of the World Health Report (2001-2008). In addition, he has helped organisations improve how they organise publishing activities through careful planning and cost management of all aspects of production.

On Air

Crossroads radio show on celebrating life with HIV in the poor suburbs of Paris

Reda Sadki About me, Audio, HIV advocacy

Click on the audio player’s right arrow to listen to the radio show.

Arab and African families were hit hard by the AIDS epidemic in France. They were amongst the first to be diagnosed in the early 1980s. The conjunction of poverty and racism then resulted in thousands of infections that were preventable and deaths that – once combination therapy became available in mid-1990s – were avoidable. It is estimated that men, women, and children of Arab and African origin account for half of the 35,000 AIDS deaths during the first two decades of the epidemic in France.

Survivre au sida (Surviving AIDS) is a weekly programme broadcast from a small, community-access radio station since 1995. After more than a decade hosting this radio show, Reda is still at its helm, but the show is now produced by the Comité des familles, the organization he founded in 2003 to mobilize families of all backgrounds facing HIV.

First public demonstration by Arab and African families facing HIV in France in 2002 (Photo: Reda Sadki)

First public demonstration by Arab and African families facing HIV in France in 2002 (Photo: Reda Sadki)

“It’s not a radio show about AIDS. It’s about speaking to the needs of people living with HIV,” explains Reda. It’s about living with the virus, loving with the virus, and having healthy children despite the virus. “In 1995, when I started, the virus was still equated with a death sentence. Yet, a clinical trial had already demonstrated that antiretrovirals could prevent mother-to-child transmission. And the power of ‘harm reduction’ to reduce infections amongst injectors had just been recognized.”

Today, the radio show celebrates the progress of medicine and its impact on the lives of families facing HIV. To love and to be loved. To have children and grand-children, knowing that (with a supportive doctor and good insurance) you will see them grow up as you grow old.

This report by Michel Arseneault for Radio France International (RFI), first broadcast on 11 December 2006, is the only time an English-language journalist documented this singular story of how families facing HIV, poverty, and disease responded to a radio show’s call for empowerment by speaking for themselves, in their own names, and for their own needs.

Click below on Play to listen to the radio report.

George Siemens at TEDxNYED (3 June 2010)

A few of my favorite excerpts from George Siemens’s Knowing Knowledge (2006)

Reda Sadki Theory

My own practice (and no doubt yours) has been shaped by many different learning theorists. George Siemens, for me, stands out articulating what I felt but did not know how to express about the changing nature of knowledge in the Digital Age. Below I’ve compiled a few of my favorite excerpts from his book Knowing Knowledge, published in 2006, two years before he taught the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) with Alec Couros and Stephen Downes.

Learning has many dimensions. No one model or definition will fit every situation. CONTEXT IS CENTRAL. Learning is a peer to knowledge. To learn is to come to know. To know is to have learned. We seek knowledge so that we can make sense. Knowledge today requires a shift from cognitive processing to pattern recognition.

Figure 5 Knowledge types

Construction, while a useful metaphor, fails to align with our growing understanding that our mind is a connection-creating structure. We do not always construct (which is high cognitive load), but we do constantly connect.

We learn foundational elements through courses…but we innovate through our own learning.

Figure 17 Learning and knowledge domains

The changing nature of knowledge

The Achilles heel of existing theories rests in the pace of knowledge growth. All existing theories place processing (or interpretation) of knowledge on the individual doing the learning. This model works well if the knowledge flow is moderate. A constructivist view of learning, for example, suggests that we process, interpret, and derive personal meaning from different information formats. What happens, however, when knowledge is more of a deluge than a trickle? What happens when knowledge flows too fast for processing or interpreting?

Figure 23 Knowledge as process, not product

Knowledge has broken free from its moorings, its shackles. Those, like Francis Bacon, who equate knowledge with power, find that the masses are flooding the pools and reservoirs of the elite. […] The filters, gatekeepers, and organizers are awakening to a sea of change that leaves them adrift, clinging to their old methods of creating, controlling, and distributing knowledge. […] Left in the wake of cataclysmic change are the knowledge creation and holding structures of the past. The ideologies and philosophies of reality and knowing—battle spaces of thought and theory for the last several millennia—have fallen as guides.

Libraries, schools, businesses—engines of productivity and society—are stretching under the heavy burden of change. New epistemological and ontological theories are being formed, as we will discuss shortly with connective knowledge. These changes do not wash away previous definitions of knowledge, but instead serve as the fertile top of multiple soil layers. […]

Or consider email in its earlier days—many printed out a paper copy of emails, at least the important ones, and filed them in a file cabinet. Today we are beginning to see a shift with email products that archive and make email searchable and allow individuals to apply metadata at point of use (tagging).

Knowledge has to be accessible at the point of need. Container-views of knowledge, artificially demarcated (courses, modules) for communication, are restrictive for this type of flow and easy-access learning.

Everything is going digital. The end user is gaining control, elements are decentralizing, connections are being formed between formerly disparate resources and fields of information, and everything seems to be speeding up.

“Know where” and “know who” are more important today that knowing what and how.

Figure 16 Know Where

Once flow becomes too rapid and complex, we need a model that allows individuals to learn and function in spite of the pace and flow.

We need to separate the learner from the knowledge they hold. It is not really as absurd as it sounds. Consider the tools and processes we currently use for learning. Courses are static, textbooks are written years before actual use, classrooms are available at set times, and so on.

The underlying assumption of corporate training and higher education centers on the notion that the world has not really changed.

But it has. Employees cannot stay current by taking a course periodically. Content distribution models (books and courses) cannot keep pace with information and knowledge growth. Problems are becoming so complex that they cannot be contained in the mind of one individual—problems are held in a distributed manner across networks, with each node holding a part of the entire puzzle. Employees require the ability to rapidly form connections with other specialized nodes (people or knowledge objects). Rapidly creating connections with others results in a more holistic view of the problem or opportunity, a key requirement for decision making and action in a complex environment.

How do we separate the learner from the knowledge? By focusing not on the content they need to know (content changes constantly and requires continual updating), but on the connections to nodes which continually filter and update content.

Here is what the connectivism implementation cycle looks like as a mind map. (Click on the image to download the PDF).

Connectivism implementation cycle (George Siemens, 2006)

Source: George Siemens, Knowing Knowledge (2006).

Image: TEDxNYED