Designing Open Education: how is your organization tackling the scalability challenge?

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Technological progress makes constant learning a must. In this respect, Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, appear to be an ideal alternative to traditional formal education. MOOCs emerged from the open education resources movement and are since then considered helpful to improve access to quality education.

However, despite the advantages MOOCs have over a traditional education, there are several challenges remained to be solved:

1. The effectiveness of Open Online Education is frequently questioned because of the low completion rates. Hence, while an effective system to measure and validate learner progress is needed, we should find a better way to boost learner engagement.
2. MOOCs require instructional design that facilitates large-scale feedback and interaction. In fact, at the ITCILO, we have identified a quality mentorship as one of the main obstacles to the scalability of Open Online Education.
3. As the idea of Open Online Education builds upon information technologies, digital literacy could be a barrier to scalability. On the other side, educators also need skills to teach in an open and online environment, as well as the ability to develop and design online education [1]. Additionally, in terms of supporting mechanisms [2] within an institution, OOE demands organizational support on multiple levels to steer towards embedding of OOE [3].

Studies show that the institution’s level of scalability is determined in part by the relative presence of ten following factors [4] :
1. interaction,
2. learning levels,
3. student class standing,
4. faculty tenure or continuing status,
5. completion rates,
6. cohort versus non-cohort settings,
7. degree- versus non-degree-seeking programs,
8. market type,
9. tuition costs, and
10. Profitability.


Besides, at the ITCILO, we agree that the attempt to improve online courses is often hindered by pedagogical effectiveness, interactivity, audience, faculty incentives, retention, program type, and profitability [5]. In order to fully leverage the potential of Open Online Education, we need to address this scalability challenge. Therefore, the course Open Online Education (05 November- 02 December) is developed to explore how the internet and networking technologies have enabled new learning models mediated by digital resources.

By the end of the course, participants will be able to:
• Define why Open Education is relevant;
• Identify the different options for development and implementation of Open Education;
• Understand evaluation approaches for Open Online Education;
• Identify challenges and define solutions for scalability.

More information about the course:

Alessia Messuti (

Mirella Scabini ( 


[1] Challenges and opportunities of open online education: a group concept mapping study. Retrieved from

[2] Schophuizen et al. 2018. Eliciting the challenges and opportunities organizations face when delivering open online education: A group-concept mapping study. The Internet and Higher Education. Retrieved from

[3] Idem.

[4] Ten Scalability Factors in Distance Education. Retrieved from

NEW ToT Certification Programme: supporting trainers in a continuously changing workplace

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Several Programmes have been designed and implemented in a competency-based manner at the Centre. Among those, there is the Competency Based ToT, which has the vision of blending the competency-based approach with learning innovation.

A competence is a fusion of values, psychomotor skills and knowledge that leads to valuable and effective performance in different environments.

The Training of Trainers (ToT) Certification Programme is a recurring capacity-development event that serves as a meeting place for capacity-development policy-makers, practitioners, trainers, facilitators, knowledge brokers, chief learning officers and staff development specialists. The goal is to facilitate the exchange of knowledge on the latest methodologies, technologies and approaches to learning innovation, and to prepare participants for official international trainers’ certification.


The ToT Certification Programme offers a wide spectrum of innovative learning approaches, tools, methods and technologies, that participants will experience and contextualize. Each participant will be treated as an individual, with their specifi c background, values and challenges to overcome. Similarly, each participant will be regarded as a valuable contributor, with a unique perspective, experience and stories to tell.

The programme has three components:

tot structure


The ToT Certification Programme is open to all practitioners who design, implement and evaluate courses for human development. Trainers, teachers and facilitators who are aiming to improve their pedagogical competences and seek certification are welcome to this Forum.

What happened in 2016 edition?

TOT Forum on Sustainable Learning Solutions for the Future. by Delta ITCILO on Exposure

Do you want to join? 

Knowledge Management: share your experience at the Academy

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We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

T.S Eliot

It’s hard to say “I manage knowledge” when prompted with the question “What do you do?”.  All the same, for all of us, knowledge is our business, this is what we do. And managing knowledge is part of the practice of every individual, team, network and organisation.

The ILO’s strategic vision attaches great importance to enhancing the Organization’s knowledge base and strengthening its role as a knowledge leader facing the transformative changes in the world of work. Becoming a global centre of excellence in labour statistics, research, knowledge management and policy development also means working collaboratively with others in ways which strengthen knowledge management as a means to achieving this transformative change.

In building a knowledge-centric environment we aim to create a regular rendezvous, which we are calling an academy, for practitioners interested in better creating, applying, sharing and managing knowledge at their workplace. This is our starting point.

This autumn, the International Training Centre in Turin and the International Labour Office will run their first ever Knowledge Management Academy (“the Academy”), developed in collaboration with world leading experts.

We’d like this post to cultivate your curiosity, pique your interest in this event, convince you to join us and invite others along too. Perhaps you’ve already committed to participate, or would like to learn more before deciding if this is the right programme to join or tell others about.

Knowledge management is a very broad subject, and there are lots of ways to view it.

As it is not one swallow or a fine day that makes a spring” we count on your participation to turn what we hope to be an excellent curriculum into a regular must for knowledge workers.

So, whether you’re interested in surfacing and sharing knowledge, building networks, exploring narratives and storytelling, or defining the enabling environment for Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Management Academy 2018 is the place to be this coming October.

Most of the diagnostics run in the field and headquarters showed that – while we are making progress in coding explicit knowledge – tacit knowledge, knowledge in networks, and the relevant skills for application remain a big unknown in our work routines.

You’ll find a brief tour of the topics on ITCILO Online Catalogue

Photo credits: jannoon028 / Freepik 

Competency-based approach: blending performance with learning innovation

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Competency-based Training of Trainers is a strategy that aims at recognizing and certifying pedagogical competences, being innovation the main transversal competence.

In the last decades, the competency-based approach spread worldwide with the purpose of being the conjunction between the educational offer and the labour demand. There are several systems – related to their cultural and economic environment – and they all have their comprehensive set of practices and tools for competences’ recognition and certification as well as for learning design and implementation. The common denominator is the collection of evidence that can prove the capacity of the practitioners of performing according to quality standards in different contexts.

A competence is a fusion of values, psychomotor skills and knowledge that leads to valuable and effective performance in different environments.

When designing education and training for competency acquisition and certification, the performance is disaggregated into a series of competence units, which are again decomposed into competence elements, being each of them made by values, skills and knowledge and related to a specific evidence or assessable proof or product.

ITCILO supporting trainers in a continuously changing workplace

Several Programmes have been designed and implemented in a competency-based manner at the Centre. Among those, there is the Competency Based ToT, which has the vision of blending the competency-based approach with learning innovation. More info here.

Competency Based ToT  supports trainers in the development of up- to-date pedagogical competences, with a special focus on creativity.   In fact, the demand for ability to generate (good) ideas and readiness to be flexible and adaptable is not a trend or a future forecast but is already happening. People are daily requested to be innovative, creative and ready for continuous learning and change.

But is training designed to support them? Are trainers able to support human resources to develop their capacity of being innovators?

Most people consider themselves as not creative. However, we can all be, if immersed in a culture of creativity and training is there to create this environment, open and conducive for innovation.

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Trainers are the first ones who are pushed to learn how to be innovative in order to create inspiring environments. Learning technologies and methodologies, learning innovation in general, can do so much, for trainers first and then of course for their trainees.  A Competency-based ToT strategy has the rigorousness and the flexibility to help trainers to move forward and acquire those competences there are needed in a continuously changing world.

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No matter what is the content ones trains on, trainers need to be ready to help their participants to become able to face unpredictable changes and a competency-based ToT can be seen as the channel toward such a capacity.

Photo Credits: Jacopo Maino/

Become a Social Changemaker

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The ITCILO is organizing its first course on Communication for Development

From 12 to 15 June 2018, the ITCILO will invite development practitioners, policymakers, creatives and academics for 4 interactive face-to-face training days on communication for development. Through interactive sessions, inspiring talks and a creative lab setting, participants will learn how to adopt design thinking and visual storytelling to their work.

Built around three approaches, the course will provide participants with the skills to create more and lasting impact when working on communication initiatives, reaching from health promotion to labour rights advocacy. The course is not limited to one specific area; it gives the tools to better understand and reach any type of audience, worldwide.

If you are looking for new ways for people to engage with your cause, or you feel your organization needs a different mindset to tackle old problems, join us in Turin to learn those methods. Human-centered design experts and talented creatives will help you to visualize and refine your message, while you’ll discover digital and low-tech solutions on the way.

Get more updated information on the course in the upcoming weeks, on our website and social media.

Join us on this unique, global learning experience in the heart of the United Nations!

Graphic Design in Development

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A case for sustainability, universality and true human needs.

Design for world peace

Back in 1945, a Yale architecture graduate called Donald McLaughin designed one of the world’s most recognizable symbols: the United Nations emblem. But at that time he wasn’t fully aware of the impact his design would have. When the delegates from 50 Allied nations gathered that spring in San Francisco, the conference required brochures, placards and, of course, badges. Mr. Mc Laughlin, then chief of the graphics presentation branch of the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the C.I.A., originally designed a 2.7 cm round lapel pin. The emblem of the continents and olive branches was also stamped in gold on the United Nations Charter, and a year and half later it was adopted, with modifications, as the official seal and emblem of the United Nations.

To this day, few symbols are so widely recognised and universally understood as the UN emblem. It’s a demonstration of the power of graphic design in its ability to unite people through graphic images and rendering complex ideas into one visual symbol. Over the last several years we’ve seen the most influential development agencies fully embracing the role of graphic design including The World Bank, Unicef and many others.

Design must be meaningful

There is a strong cultural dimension to graphic design that is affected by traditions, language, diversity, gender, beliefs and value systems. Graphic designers within UN agencies carry the responsibility to embody these dimensions in their designs. Experience turned them into experts designing in all six official 400+ national languages, but also in integrating complex ideas such as impartiality, dignity and tolerance. They have the duty and power to represent the underrepresented and to promote inclusiveness through their ideas.

Making it look pretty is not enough. Design must be meaningful where ‘meaningful’ replaces rather void concepts such as ‘beautiful, ‘ugly’, ‘cool’, ‘cute’, or ‘nice’. Designers need to put end-users’ needs ahead of their own taste and love of aesthetics. Or as Victor Papanek put it back in 1971’: “design must become an innovative, highly creative, cross- disciplinary tool responsive to the true needs of men.”

Design is inherent to all cultures and the next generation of graphic designers needs to be aware of their ability to emphasise on deeper cultural meanings. Design can impact the world and therefore designers should cultivate their capacity in strengthening mutual understanding amongst people and nations.

From ITCILO's Future of Learning Magazine

From ITCILO’s Future of Learning Magazine

In-house capacity and training

The ILO Turin Centre has its own inhouse graphic design unit. Multimedia Design and Production (MDP) provides
graphic design solutions for courses, training materials, conferences and publications. For many years MDP has also designed the publications of other UN agencies including UNHCR, OHCHR and the World Bank.

This year for the first time, the Center will organize a course on how to design communication solutions for development purposes. As a discipline, Communication for Development embraces a broad range of functions and practices which centre around dialogue, participation and the sharing of knowledge and information, all with a view to creating empowerment and sustainable social change. From a human centred approach, this on-site training course will explore the possibilities of contemporary and traditional communication tools in addressing development
challenges and maximizing the impact of initiatives.

The Communication for Development (C4D) Course will be organised in Turin, from 5 to 8 June 2018. All information and applications on the course’s web page.

Sustainable Learning Solutions for the Future

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Between 7 and 11 November 2016 the Centre will hold its bi-annual Training-of-Trainers (TOT) forum which this year will focus on sustainable learning solutions. In the world of learning and training trends, patterns and forecasts are identified on an annual base which will form the basis for reflection and discussion in this forum. Some of the questions we would like to launch already here:

  • How can we move beyond the traditional workshop factory model and move into more cost-effective learning solutions that have more impact? Which new trends can be scaled and can move beyond the pilot stage?
  • Which new forms of crowdsourced learning and peer-to-peer learning can really tap into the power of collective intelligence and views the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ hype from a pedagogical angle that adds value?
  • MOOCS, MOOCS and MOOCS … are there any other interesting learning modalities that focus on increased outreach, access and inclusion?
  • Can we move beyond our workshop interventions and dive into transformational learning solutions where the power of interdisciplinary thinking and complexity approaches are fully harnessed?
  • Which innovative learning interventions really made the difference this year (gamification, mobile learning, augmented learning, …)?
  • Which new metrics do we need to adopt to fully measure the quality of (e)-learning? What do learning and engagement analytics mean in the world of learning for development?

Which other questions and expectations do you have with relation to the theme of sustainable learning solutions for the future? Participate in this short survey or below and we will send you additional information on the upcoming TOT forum.




“Gamifying” Employment Policies

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Last week we experimented the use of, a free web application that offers an easy and friendly experience to trainers to engage and assess their learners.

We then organized a Space Race!

The Space Race is one of the features offered by that allows turning an old-fashion quiz into an intergalactic trip.

The learning objective was to let participants assess their learning in small groups, review and reinforce the knowledge acquired during the training.

Time: 40 min


  • 1 tablet/laptop per group;
  • Flipcharts where to provide the PIN codes for learners to access Socrative virtual room;
  • 1 big screen where learners can see their rockets;
  • Internet connection


  • Learners are divided in groups;
  • Learners are informed that they are going to play the Space Race game asking them to review the knowledge acquired during the training;
  • Each group is provided with a tablet or a laptop and the link to access Socrative web-application (;
  • Learners choose the “Student Login” and enter the PIN code that enable access to the virtual room;
  • After having entered the PIN code, the groups are asked to provide a name and to select their team’s rocket colour (e.g. Blue, Magenta, Lime, Peach, Violet)
  • Now they can start racing! Each group competes with other groups;
  • There are 20 questions, quite short but with multiple choice answers.
  • If participants answer correctly, their space rocket will advance accordingly on the space board. If they don’ answer correctly, their space rocket doesn’t move.
  • The WINNING TEAM is the team who answer the highest amount of questions in less time, therefore achieving the furthest distance.
  • At the end of the game it’s also possible to download the results and check what are the questions that have been answered correctly/incorrectly and eventually discuss in class.



– The activity constituted an energizer exercise suitable for an after-lunch session;

– Increased discussion and reflection, and team sharing as learners were forced to discuss together each question before submitting the right answer;

– Learners were forced to go through all the quiz questions, therefore being exposed to a comprehensive knowledge check;

– It was fun: cooperation and competition were key elements;


Things that need to be considered:

– Clear instructions to learners at the beginning;

– All teams should start at the same time

– First provide instructions, then allow learners to access the Space Race;

– Make sure all Space Race questions are well formulated;

– Make sure the main computer does not freeze or sleeps otherwise the advancements of the space rockets is blocked;

– Print the results of the Space Race for the facilitator to comment at the end of the exercise;

– Have groups of 4 people max. to make sure interaction is adequate


Mobile Learning with Tablets: Free E-Book for Trainers

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Photo by Chandni Lanfranchi.

We have recently written a post about the Learning with Tablets pilot, the first large scale ITC-ILO Academy supported by tablet computers, which took place in October 2014. The reasons behind the integration of tablets into learning activities were mostly related to creating interactive experiences for learners and gradually moving towards a paperless strategy where tablets are going to be used throughout multiple activities at the Centre. If you want to know more, there is a paper about the impact evaluation conducted here.

One of the key insights from this experience is that technology integration into learning is not only about the availability of devices but rather about trainers and facilitators effectively using technology. Therefore, despite all technical evolutions, trainers are the most important factor for success when using and integrating technology inside and outside the classroom. However to effectively use it, trainers firstly need to get familiar with it and acquire key competences. Media literacy is today recognized almost universally as one of the key competences in the educational system. According to UNESCO publication on Media Literacy and New Humanism, it is a basic skill that includes the individual capacity to using any media competently, a skill that supports many others.

That is why we are sharing the Mobile Learning with Tablets, a guide for trainers and facilitators interested in designing learning activities enhanced by tablet computers. The guide is available as a FREE eBook on the iBooks store for IOS.


You can also find it in PDF format on this ITCILO Community of Practice on Learning & Technology.

Read more

Learnscapes. Towards new learning landscapes.

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The Centre is currently exploring new ways to combine design thinking, architecture and learning. This resulted in the ‘Learnscape’ project which gives you an interesting perspective on how to consider the importance of the physical environment for learning and training. The learning journey helped us to think outside the box of a typical classroom setting and made us aware that there is a fundamental need to introduce the important notion of a learning ecology. Feel free to download the publication and please share your views with us.