An e-learning course that allows humanitarian workers to undertake an ambitious training programme on Sphere principles and standards in an autonomous manner is now available via the Internet.
The course aims to increase the understanding and effective use of the Sphere Handbook, Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response. For the time being, the course is available in English; Arabic, French and Spanish versions are in the making.
The Sphere Handbook in Action e-learning course brings the Handbook to life through the use of realistic scenarios, helping the learner to get acquainted with its core messages and to understand how to use it holistically. Taking the course is free of charge.
"We believe the course fills a gap and will play an instrumental role in further disseminating Sphere principles and standards," says the Sphere Project manager John Damerell. "Thanks to this course, anyone involved in humanitarian work can more easily get acquainted with - or deepen their knowledge of - the Sphere Handbook."
The course is accessible online and will soon be available as a CD, aimed at those with slow or no connectivity to the Internet.
The learning design is based on challenging scenarios and dilemmas that humanitarian workers typically face while working in the field. The full course takes about six hours, and may be completed at each person's pace.
Among the key aspects of humanitarian work explored by the course are: accountability to affected populations, needs assessment, impartiality, keeping populations safe from harm and looking after oneself as a humanitarian worker.
"We focused the learning on the early chapters of the Sphere Handbook as those define the principles, rights and standards that should be applied to all humanitarian work," says Verónica Foubert, responsible for Training and Learning Management at the Sphere Project office. "Through different scenarios, the course explores their practical application, relating them to the minimum standards in the technical chapters."
The Sphere Project is keen to help humanitarian agencies incorporate the course into their staff development curricula. A number of organizations are already exploring this possibility. Agencies interested and willing to do so should contact Verónica Foubert.
Designed to be an integral part of core learning for humanitarian staff, the course is complementary to traditional training methods like workshops.