Mindjourney-online learning network-abstract-colorful

Which is better for global health: online, blended, or face-to-face learning?

Reda Sadki Learning, Research, Theory

A long time ago, I asked Bill Cope what the evidence says about the superiority of online learning over blended and face-to-face. My experience had already consistently been that you could achieve so much more with the confines and constraints of physical space removed.

Of course, it is complicated. But Bill pointed me to the two meta-analyses published in 2010 that provided fair and definitive evidence to answer two questions. Yet, in the field of global health, the underlying assumption of funders and technical partners remains that there is no better way to learn than by flying bodies and materials at high cost. This is scientifically and morally wrong, does not scale, and has created a per diem economy of perverse incentives. It is wrong even if it is easy to understand why international trainers and trainees both express a preference for the least effective, low volume, high cost approach to learning.

Question 1. Does supplementing face-to-face instruction with online instruction enhance learning?

No. Positive effects associated with blended learning should not be attributed to the media, per se. (It is more likely that positive effects are due to people doing more work in blended learning, once online and then again in a physical space.)

This is the conclusion of the U.S. Department of Education’s “Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: a meta-analysis and review of online learning studies” in September 2010. You can find the full document here.

Question 2. Is the final academic performance of students in distance learning programs better than that of those enrolled in traditional FTF programs, in the last twenty-year period?

Yes. Distance learning results in increasingly better learning outcomes since 1991 – when learning technologies to support distance learning were far more rudimentary than they are now.

This is the meta-analysis done by Mickey Shachar and Yoram Nuemann reviewing twenty years of research on the academic performance differences between traditional and distance learning: summative meta-analysis and trend examination in the Merlot Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. Vol 6, No. 2, June 2010.

Image: Online learning networks. Personal collection generated by Mindjourney.

How we make sense of complexity, together, at the Geneva Learning Foundation

Reda Sadki The Geneva Learning Foundation

Unique learning experiences generate not just data points but complex stories about what it takes to make change actually happenBy connecting the dots between ideas and implementation, we can zero in on the highest-value insights. 

Our Insights Unit uses the latest advances in learning analytics to map how ideas and practices shared between countries and system levels make a difference. 

The Unit facilitates international partners to work hand-in-hand with local practitioners. 

In addition to thousands of local practitioners contributing and using insights to drive shared learning and action, our Insights Unit’s work is being used by leading global agencies. Examples include: 

  • Effective strategies to overcome vaccine hesitancy in districts and health facilities (BMGF) 
  • Motivation of local health professionals for COVID-19 vaccination (Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance) 
  • Learning culture as a key driver of frontline health worker performance (Wellcome Trust) 
  • Gender barriers, vaccine confidence, and other immunization challenges (WellcomeTrust) 
  • Analysis of implementation of recovery plans in TGLF’s COVID-19 peer support programme (WHO and USAID Momentum) 

We are exploring affordable, practical ways to extract meaning from large data sets 

To learn more about the Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF), download our brochure, listen to our podcast, view our latest livestreams, subscribe to our insights, and follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Or introduce yourself to our Partnerships team.

Teach to Reach: peer learning at scale

Reda Sadki The Geneva Learning Foundation

Teach to Reach are fast-paced, dynamic digital events connecting local and global practitioners to each other in a new, potentially transformative shared dialogue. 

Teach to Reach and other TGLF special events rally thousands, serving as powerful moments of inspiration, providing the amazing sensation of being connected with thousands of fellow, like-minded people and the impetus to transform this feeling into shared purpose and action. 

Meet, network, and learn with colleagues from all over the world 

Successive editions of TGLF’s flagship event series, “Teach to Reach: Connect”, enabled a cumulative total of 27,000 health professionals to share experiences, test approaches, and identify solutions with international experts listening and learning with them. 

To learn more about the Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF), download our brochure, listen to our podcast, view our latest livestreams, subscribe to our insights, and follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Or introduce yourself to our Partnerships team.

How does the Geneva Learning Foundation’s approach break the norm?

Reda Sadki The Geneva Learning Foundation

100% digital 100% human: using the latest learning technologies and interfaces, we adapt our digital networking interfaces to learner needs and habits to augment their digital and networking capabilities. 

Grounded in experience: we foster problem-solving that values both participants’ lived experience and the world’s best available global knowledge. 

We open access: participation can be opened for all, across geographic, sectoral or institutional barriers. 

New knowledge is created through peer learning: national and international practitioners sharing experience, giving and receiving feedback, and using this new knowledge to solve problems together. 

We build trust and mutual respect: safe spaces encourage authentic sharing of experiences to learn what actually works, how, and why. 

Driven by intrinsic motivation: proven high engagement rates with no per diem or other extrinsic incentives. 

Sustainability built-in: 78% of TGLF programme participants feel “capable” of using TGLF’s methodology for their own needs, and 82% want to organize their own activities using it with their colleagues. 

To learn more about the Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF), download our brochure, listen to our podcast, view our latest livestreams, subscribe to our insights, and follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Or introduce yourself to our Partnerships team.

The Geneva Learning Foundation: Localizing programming and grounding policy

Reda Sadki The Geneva Learning Foundation

By defying distance to connect with each other, practitioners expand the realm of what they are able to know beyond their local boundaries. 

Listening to these diverse voices and experiences is critical to inform programming, policy and decision-making and build bridges across sectoral silos and other boundaries, by providing: 

  • A direct, unmediated connection to the priorities and challenges of frontline staff, as well as their perceptions of key obstacles and enablers of progress. 
  • Impactful learning and knowledge building by and for frontline responders and practitioners. 
  • A “reality check” to assess whether current global assumptions match those of frontline workers. 
  • A “test bed” to co-design, develop and pilot tools or resources. 

Thousands of ideas are turned into action, results, and impact 

In every TGLF programme, practitioners develop action plans and then report to each other as they implement, documenting results, outcomes, and impact to help each other. 

Such peer accountability has proven more reliable, in some cases, than conventional monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. 

For individuals, TGLF enables: 

  • Increased knowledge of low-cost digital tools for learning and networking at scale. 
  • Opportunities to blossom as a leader, no matter who you are or where you are. 
  • Sense of community across system level, sectoral, geographic and institutional boundaries. 

Measurable impact in countries: Examples of outcomes tracked in immunization since July 2019 

  • Following up on finding and vaccinating zero dose and defaulting children 
  • Tracking and vaccinating migrant populations 
  • Setting up a Missed Opportunities in Vaccination (MOV) system to ensure eligible children present at outpatient/other PHC “stations” in a facility receive vaccinations 
  • Improving geographic equity by increasing outreach sites in hard- to-reach areas 
  • Increasing frequency of services in higher volume urban facilities 
  • Using community engagement approaches to bring on board leaders to support immunization, who were previously opposed. 

To learn more about the Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF), download our brochure, listen to our podcast, view our latest livestreams, subscribe to our insights, and follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Or introduce yourself to our Partnerships team.

The Geneva Learning Foundation: Scale, reach, and sustainability

Reda Sadki The Geneva Learning Foundation

In its first years of operation, the Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF) built digital infrastructure to foster and support several global networks and platforms connecting practitioners.

Communities supported included:
•  immunization and primary health care professionals,
•  humanitarian workers advocating gender equality during disasters and other emergency operations,
•  doctors, other health workers, and communities addressing neglected needs in women’s health, and
•  health workers tackling neglected tropical diseases.

This digital infrastructure enabled TGLF to rapidly respond to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the first two years of the pandemic, a team of three people developed and implemented… 

To learn more about the Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF), download our brochure, listen to our podcast, view our latest livestreams, subscribe to our insights, and follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Or introduce yourself to our Partnerships team.

The Geneva Learning Foundation: Spanning the full spectrum of learning

Reda Sadki The Geneva Learning Foundation

We empower practitioners to tailor learning experiences that fit their own needs to drive change: Participants do not  stop work to learn, every step of the process is embedded in and focused on their daily work.

Typical learning events include:  

“Hackathons”: 2 to 4 days fast-paced context and challenge analysis and idea generation

“Peer learning exercises” : 2 to 4 weeks, on and offline facilitated learning among and between practitioners and international experts, including knowledge sharing, situational analysis and action planning.  

 “Full Learning Cycles”, a nurturing space for learners and leaders over several months to explore and take action together, identifying common challenges, generating and sharing ideas, testing innovative solutions, and implementing action plans.

To learn more about the Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF), download our brochure, listen to our podcast, view our latest livestreams, subscribe to our insights, and follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Or introduce yourself to our Partnerships team.

Motivation and connection for transformation at the heart of the Geneva Learning Foundation’s approach

Reda Sadki The Geneva Learning Foundation

Our approach based on intrinsic motivation, continuous learning and problem–solving leads to impact. Practical implementation with peer support accelerates progress to get results and document impact. 

To learn more about the Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF), download our brochure, listen to our podcast, view our latest livestreams, subscribe to our insights, and follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Or introduce yourself to our Partnerships team.

How local practitioners use the Geneva Learning Foundation’s approach to accelerate progress to impact

Reda Sadki The Geneva Learning Foundation

In the final stage of a comprehensive TGLF learning programme, alumni implement action plans they have developed together.

We compared the implementation progress after six months between those who joined this final stage and a control group that also developed action plans, but did not join.

To learn more about the Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF), download our brochure, listen to our podcast, view our latest livestreams, subscribe to our insights, and follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Or introduce yourself to our Partnerships team.

How the Geneva Learning Foundation uses learning science to drive change

Reda Sadki The Geneva Learning Foundation

As developed by our founders, the TGLF learning-to-impact pathway draws on the best available evidence and our own practice in the learning sciences and multiple other disciplines. 

TGLF’s diagnostic instruments rapidly identify the most effective strategies to develop people, teams, and networks to drive change and performance. 

Working with our network of founders and advisors, our approaches are continually honed and improved to ensure their effectiveness. 

For example, TGLF co-founder Karen E. Watkins, working with Victoria Marsick, developed the framework proving the strong correlation between learning culture and organizational performance. This evidence-based framework is central to the Foundation’s learning-to-impact pathway. 

Marsick, V.J., Watkins, K.E., 2003. Demonstrating the Value of an Organization’s Learning Culture: The Dimensions of the Learning Organization Questionnaire. Advances in Developing Human Resources 5, 132–151. https://doi.org/10.1177/1523422303005002002

To learn more about the Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF), download our brochure, listen to our podcast, view our latest livestreams, subscribe to our insights, and follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Or introduce yourself to our Partnerships team.