Much scaffolding, King's Cross Station, London

Back to London on Thursday to talk learning strategy for humanitarian and development organizations

Reda Sadki Writing

I’m looking forward to being back in London on Thursday 13 March for People In Aid’s Learning & Development network meeting. This group meets four times a year to discuss issues in which there is a shared interest across organizations. Previous topics have covered how to “measure” learning or the design of competency frameworks, for example. Recent projects presented at the meetings include Save The Children’s Humanitarian and Leadership Academy (a major project to scale up professionalization of the sector) or RedR’s competency framework for humanitarian training. Each meeting’s report is a short but often insightful summary around a project or theme, and can be found here. As for me, I’ll be sharing key insights from the European MOOC Stakeholders’ Summit as we try to figure out what these massive, open online courses might mean for the humanitarian and development sector. I’ll also share a couple of case studies documenting …

Meet Barbara Moser-Mercer, the lady who did MOOCs in a refugee camp

Reda Sadki Interviews, Video, Writing

I first heard her described as the “lady who did MOOCs in a refugee camp”. It was completely ambiguous what that meant, but certainly sparked my curiosity. Barbara Moser-Mercer is a professor at the University of Geneva and a  cognitive psychologist who has practiced and researched education in emergencies. I finally caught up with her at the Second European MOOC Summit.  

The MOOC Tornado

European MOOC Summit: What looks tasty – for organizations thinking about transforming how they learn

Reda Sadki Events, Writing

This is a quick overview of what I found of interest for international and non-governmental organizations in the program of the Second European MOOC Summit – possibly the largest and probably the most interesting MOOC-related event on the Old Continent – that opens tomorrow at Switzerland’s MIT-by-the-Lake, EPFL. The first interesting thing I found in the program is that it includes an instructional session, titled “All you need to know about MOOCs”. Indeed, the more I meet and talk to people across a variety of international and non-governmental organizations, the more it is obvious that the so-called “hype” has remained circumscribed to a fairly narrow, academic circle – despite international media coverage and a few million registered users. That makes it both smart and relevant to offer a primer for anyone attending the conference who is discovering MOOCs, before they get plunged into the labyrinth of myth, paradox and possibility that …

Alligator trumps turtle

Learning beyond training, to survive and grow

Reda Sadki Writing

Humanitarian organizations already organize and deliver training on a massive scale. For example, the Red Cross and Red Crescent train 17 million people each year to practice life-saving first aid, in addition to the training of its 13.6 million active volunteers. Training has been tacitly accepted as the primary mechanism to prepare volunteers and staff for humanitarian work, from the local branch (community) to the international emergency operations (global). However, the humanitarian sector lacks a strategic approach for learning, education and training (LET), despite a widely-acknowledged human resource and skills shortage. In addition, the sector is deeply ensconced in face-to-face training culture, with many humanitarian workers earning at least part of their livelihood as trainers, and training events are key to developing social and professional networks but not necessarily to developing key competencies needed in the field. Whatever its merits, this approach to training cannot scale up to face the …

Ancient Mayan port city of Tulum, Yucatán Peninsula. Personal collection.

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 …