Reda SadkiWriting

We struggle with the measurement of learning.

Elaborate frameworks compete for attention. The sophistication of complexity theory or fractals, the business speak of ROI, levels, pyramids, concentric circles… every learning guru peddles a model to describe and diagnose the effects of what we try to do – and what learners actually do most often on their own.

How can we possibly describe the complex chain of correlation and causation between a learning intervention or incident and an outcome?

Is there an important distinction separating knowledge or skills “transfer” from the progression to implementation and, ultimately, impact? How much of a difference can we actually make on performance outcomes or human capital development, when so much is related to the environment’s learning culture?

I described a few of the outcomes we are observing for our most advanced global programme. Learners are transmuted into teachers, leaders, and facilitators. In some countries, learners are self-organizing to take on issues that matter to them, evolving course projects into a potentially transformative agenda.

“What you are doing is magic.”

Some are afraid of magic. Others try to mimic it, trying to replicate the secret sauce.

We are not, in fact, magicians. There is no secret sauce. The tool does not enable the process.

It is not about the platform, nor about the network. These outcomes result from modestly intersecting the science of learning with real, lived learning culture and from reframing education as philosophy for change in the Digital Age.

That, and a lot of elbow grease. Also known as execution.

Impact becomes something tangible once we start connecting the dots between course, context, and individuals.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” states the third of Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws.

So maybe we have discovered a corollary law about “sufficiently advanced” learning.

Image: The 600-MeV Synchrocyclotron, which came into operation in 1957, was CERN’s first accelerator. Personal collection.