Thick knowledge

Reda Sadki Content strategy, Learning strategy, Quotes

Toby Mundy on books as thick knowledge: “[…] Books have a unique place in our civilisation […] because they are the only medium for thick descriptions of the world that human beings possess. By ‘thick’ description, I mean an extended, detailed, evidence-based, written interpretation of a subject. If you want to write a feature or blog or wikipedia entry, be it about the origins of the first world war; the authoritarian turn in Russia; or the causes and effects of the 2008 financial crisis, in the end you will have to refer to a book. Or at least refer to other people who have referred to books. Even the best magazine pieces and TV documentaries — and the best of these are very good indeed — are only puddle-deep compared with the thick descriptions laid out in books. They are ‘thin’ descriptions and the creators and authors of them will have referred extensively to …

Lenses rainbow

Unified Knowledge Universe

Reda Sadki Content strategy, Learning design, Learning strategy, Writing

“Knowledge is the economy. What used to be the means has today become the end. Knowledge is a river, not a reservoir. A process, not a product. It’s the pipes that matter, because learning is in the network.” – George Siemens  in Knowing Knowledge (2006) Harnessing the proliferation of knowledge systems and the rapid pace of technological change is a key problem for 21st century organizations. When knowledge is more of a deluge than a trickle, old command-control methods of creating, controlling, and distributing knowledge encased in a container view do little to crack how we can tame this flood. How do you scaffold continual improvement in learning and knowledge production to maximize depth, dissemination and impact? A new approach is needed to apply multiple lenses to a specific organizational context. What the organization wants to enable, improve and accelerate: Give decision makers instant, ubiquitous and predictive access to all the knowledge in …

On target


Reda Sadki Learning design, Learning strategy

Individually, team members continually learn in their respective area of work, by both formal and informal means. Most learning today happens by accretion, as a continual, networked (‘know-where’), and embedded process. However, occasions to share and reflect on best practice are rare, and may be felt to be interruptions or distractions from the ‘real work’ in one’s silo. Furthermore, online learning events (“webinars”) tend to be long (one hour is typical), require professionals to take “time out” from their work in order to learn, and do not provide the necessary linkage between knowledge acquired and its application to work (the “applicability problem”). To further continual learning, the practicum offers a 15-minute online presentation from a global thought leader on a topic directly relevant to the business. Participants are invited to watch the presentation together, and to stay together for face-to-face discussion (beyond 15 minutes) to determine practical ways in which the concepts and ideas may …

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 …


Four billion

Reda Sadki Global health

A few months ago, a malaria guy showed me the $20 dumb Nokia phones he buys in a Geneva convenience store and then gives out to trainees who then use it to collect data via SMS text messages. ARM says that the US$20 smart phone (read: Android with an ARM chip) will arrive this year. At stake: how to get the next four billion people online. Source: ARM says $20 smartphones coming this year, shows off 64-bit Cortex-A53 and A57 performance. Photo:

Hamburger University

Accreditation in higher education is based primarily on inputs rather than outcomes

Reda Sadki Education business models, Learning strategy

Burck Smith describes how accreditation is based primarily on a higher education institution’s inputs rather than its outcomes, and creates an “iron triangle” to maintain high prices, keep out new entrants, and resist change. To be accredited, a college must meet a variety of criteria, but most of these deal with a college’s inputs rather than its outcomes [emphasis mine]. Furthermore, only providers of entire degree programs (rather than individual courses) can be accredited. And even though they are accredited by the same organizations, colleges have complete discretion over their “articulation” policies—the agreements that stipulate the credits that they will honor or deny when transferred from somewhere else. This inherent conflict of interest between the provision of courses and the certification of other’s courses is a powerful tool to keep competition out. Articulation agreements, like API’s for computer operating systems, are the standards that enable or deny integration. In short, …

Masooda Bano: the impact of international aid on volunteering and development

Reda Sadki Events, Interviews, Learning design, Video

The negative impact of aid on development has been a recurring and controversial subject in recent years. Drawing on her extensive research in this field, Masooda Bano asserts that there is a strong negative correlation between foreign aid, and voluntary organisations’ ability to mobilise communities. Masooda Bano is a Research Fellow at the Oxford Department of International Development & Wolfson College, University of Oxford, with a DPhil from Oxford and MPhil from Cambridge. Her work focuses on real life development puzzles with a focus on mapping the micro-level behaviour and incentive structures drawing on rich empirical data especially ethnographic studies. Dangerous Correlations: Aid’s Impact on NGOs’ Performance and Ability to Mobilize Members in Pakistan