Call for applications (2016): Become a #DigitalScholar

We are pleased to inform you that applications are now open for the 2017 edition of the #DigitalScholar course. Learn more

The Geneva Learning Foundation, in partnership with the University of Illinois College of Education and Learning Strategies International (LSi), is pleased to announce an open access course to support the development of scalable digital learning.

How to apply

Please apply early, although we will accept applications until 3 July 2016. The course will run for four weeks from 4 until 29 July 2016. See detailed announcement for details.

Download this course announcement

Who this course is for

  • Training providers transitioning their face-to-face courses to digital;
  • Consultants who offer training or capacity-building services to their clients;
  • Technical experts who wish to develop effective digital learning that can scale to transfer knowledge, skills and competencies (behaviours);
  • Trainers and coaches interested in deploying their face-to-face skills in a digital environment;
  • Knowledge managers who need to rapidly develop case studies, build a community of practice, or foster collaboration across silos; and
  • Other learning leaders and managers interested in staying current with the latest digital learning pedagogies and new business models for learning, education, and training (LET).

What will you gain?

  1. Practical, accelerated learning of cutting-edge pedagogies and digital learning practices, with a focus on knowledge co-construction.
  2. Each participant will develop their own course outline using Scholar’s innovative peer-to-peer knowledge co-construction approach.
  3. The outline is intended to be immediately usable to offer your own Scholar course to staff, clients, customers, students, or other stakeholders.
  4. Participants who successfully complete the course will be eligible to use Scholar to offer their own digital courses.

What is special about this course?

The course addresses the growing need for rapid, low-cost development of digital learning courses, a tangible sign of the ongoing digital transformation of learning, education and training (LET).

It will introduce you to general principles of effective digital learning through the use of Scholar, an online learning environment developed by Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis of the University of Illinois College of Education. Scholar’s pedagogical pattern:

  • can teach both foundational and expert knowledge;
  • is designed to produce (and not simply consume) knowledge;
  • fosters higher-order thinking, analysis, reflection, evaluation, and application;
  • connects peers to each other, modelling new forms of leadership and collaboration that enable people in complex contexts to think, learn and work together to solve problems;
  • has other applications that include capacity-building, leadership development, action learning, case study development, communities of practice, and fostering collaboration across silos.

Course team

  • Bill Cope (Wikipedia | LinkedIn) is a Professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois. He is Principal Investigator in a series of projects funded by the Institute of Educational Sciences in the US Department of Education and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation researching and developing multimodal writing and assessment spaces.
  • Catherine Russ (Twitter | LinkedIn) has both researched and led change in large humanitarian organizations to move the learning agenda forward. She is an adult education and learning specialist with expertise in learning strategy and programme development, capacity building and partnership brokering, working both as an independent consultant and a senior LSi Associate.
  • Reda Sadki (Twitter | Blog | LinkedIn) is an educational innovator and social entrepreneur. After two decades in the United Nations and at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), he founded Learning Strategies International ( in 2014 and the Geneva Learning Foundation in 2016.

What will you do in this course?

Each participant will develop a project outline for their own scalable, digital learning course. In the course of developing this project, participants will:

  1. Explore and reflect on how teaching and learning are currently organized across different industries.
  2. Distinguish learning approaches based on information transmission from knowledge co-construction.
  3. Explore the relevance of knowledge co-construction for your industry.
  4. Compare Scholar’s co-construction approach with other learning environments or management systems that you have used.
  5. Determine the use cases for Scholar in your own context.
  6. Identify and describe your market (audience), learning objectives, structure and organization, and other aspects needed to outline their own digital learning course.

Requirements and prerequisites

  • Information technology: Participants will need to have access to a reliable Internet connection and a modern browser (Safari 5+, Firefox, or Chrome). A headset with a microphone is necessary to participate in the weekly group discussion. You will need to access the course web site on a daily basis.
  • Learning expertise and experience: Some prior knowledge of learning theory and practice is helpful, but not required.


Application, enrollment, and participation in this course are free of charge to individuals. Interested organisations should use this form to request one or more seats in the course.


Participants who successfully fulfil all requirements of the course will qualify for optional, paid certification from the Geneva Learning Foundation.


  • Participants should be expected to dedicate 3-4 hours a week to the course.
  • Those with limited fluency in English or digital (i.e., you find online tools difficult to use) should schedule an additional 1-2 hours per week.

Each participant will develop their own project draft, then review the drafts of three peers, and finally revise their own draft. This process will be broken down into short daily tasks (30 minutes each) to complete each day, Monday through Friday. We encourage you to complete each task on the day it is posted. Nevertheless, you are free to catch up any time during the week, preferably before the Thursday discussion group. As each week builds on the preceding week’s activities, it is important that you do not fall behind the schedule.

Weekly 30-minute meetings will be held as virtual web meetings every Thursday and start at 20h00 Geneva (CET), on 7, 14, 21, and 28 July 2016.


WeekDatesLive discussion groupTime req.
Week 14–8 JulyThursday, 7 July3–4 hours
Week 211–15 JulyThursday, 14 July3–4 hours
Week 318–22 JulyThursday, 21 July3–4 hours
Week 425–29 JulyThursday 28 July3–4 hours

Question or comment?

Please check the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) before sending a message. Please use this form to send us your questions or comments. If you are interested in this course but not available during its scheduled run, please register your interest.

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H2L2 briefing note

What is H2L2?

H2L2 (Humanitarian Health Lessons Learned) is a knowledge community to connect health workers, volunteers, and affected families in order to improve humanitarian health preparedness and response, building on a pilot run by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in 2013. We propose to launch the initiative with an inaugural exercise open to all those involved or affected by the Ebola crisis in 2014-2015. The purpose of the exercise will be to explore if and how lessons learned from the Ebola response have been applied to new crises.

View the initial H2L2 concept presentation (2 November 2015)

Who is developing H2L2?

The Geneva Learning Foundation, a new organization with the mission of fostering learning innovation, is working with the University of Illinois. The initiative is supported by an advisory group that includes other universities, humanitarian health practitioners, policy experts, and other stakeholders.

Why do we need H2L2?

The unprecedented complexity and scale of the current Ebola outbreak demonstrated that existing capacities of organizations with technical, normative culture, methods and approaches are not necessarily scalable or adaptable to novel or larger challenges. Large and complex public health emergencies are different each time. Each new event poses specific problems. Hence, traditional approaches to standardize “best practice” are unlikely to succeed. H2L2 aims to ensure that learning is continually captured and embedded in systems, practices, and structures so that it can be shared and regularly used to intentionally improve human resources and coordination.

What is different about H2L2?

H2L2 aims to open access to shared learning from humanitarian health crises, increasing the volume (scalable to accommodate hundreds or thousands of participants), diversity (any organization, country, role in the epidemic), and efficiency (faster knowledge production without sacrificing quality). Furthermore, knowledge sharing and peer review ensure that participants are learning from each other as they work, so that the lessons identified and reflect on have an immediate impact across the network of those taking part (and, by extension, their work contexts and organizations).

Why start with lessons learned from the Ebola crisis?

Lessons learned are already a major topic (2,690 articles found by Google Scholar for the search terms “Ebola” and “lessons learned”, with 70% of them published in 2015). Yet, many if not most of these processes have relied on small, closed feedback loops, inside expert circles or established organisational hierarchies. This has limited the ability of such reviews to achieve double-loop learning in which governing values as well as actions are questioned. Furthermore, affected communities have seldom been included – and mainstreaming community engagement is unlikely to be achieved as long as we lack mechanisms to do so effectively.

How does H2L2 align to the reform of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme?

H2L2 can provide a platform to both scale up and open knowledge production, sharing, and learning, to support the development of country-specific plans aligned to global strategy, build response team coordination and trust (preparedness), provide an always-on network of capabilities and experience (crisis response), and engage post-crisis actors through reflective exercise on what worked and why. H2L2 technology can enable and support efforts toward an organisational culture of improved coordination, leadership, and preparedness in and between organizations, governments, and local communities.

Is it value for money (V4M)?

The Year 1 budget covers the full cost of developing H2L2, running the inaugural exercise on lessons learned from the Ebola crisis, and includes a research component to measure impact. Furthermore, there is no upper limit on the number of participants. This may be compared to low-volume, high-cost training or single-time, limited audience lessons learned events.

Geneva Learning Foundation
5 April 2016 (Updated 24 May 2016)

Learn more

To learn more about H2L2, you may read this five-part blog series.

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