TIKVAH BREIMER / PROGRAM MANAGEMENT / CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT / ALONGSIDE ADVISORY
CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT / LEARNING LEAD
Teaching runs in our blood - my father is a teacher and pedagogue - and I am passionate about it. I specialise in learning by technical advisors / professionals.

Engaging in capacity development is my core business, and I am a certified and experienced teacher and trainer of professionals in a wide variety of settings (Master degree, see also under contact / LinkedIn CV).

I am always still discovering on pedagogics, inspired by great thinkers (see under gallery), and very hands on too really. Creating with your hands, is understanding (Sennett, 1997, The Craftsman).

I love to create, make ideas visible - tangible. Beautiful. And I love to collaborate with senior experts in a technical/content field, teachers, trainers to deliver them something tailored that will work for them for a long time.

I lead a light interdisciplinary core team that can create a lean remote/blended learning platform online for you; an inspiring pedagogical environment which simultaniously optimalises 'live' time (see below for a discussion on that).

I love common sense - the most forgotton tool (Payne 1983, 2000).

What does makes sense then in the post lockdown world? :
- what do you really need (as opposed to what is available out there)?
- what is the right balance with 'live'?
- what should 'live' look like, once we can go back to it
- what better guarantees quality: training of trainers approaches, or an online module with certification?
- to build or not to build from scratch?
- how can the online presence be delivered to you in such a way that you can easily update it?
- how long does can your investment last?
- what is good enough? what is optimal? what is a stellar version?
- what budgets are we talking about for that matter?

I actually embrace financial or time (or both) limitations exactly for that:
they make you and your team inventive.

It's why I work for smaller and medium clients only - and tailored. I love the inventive factor, the problem solving, the dynamics of a shorter time lines with a hands-on team.

I enjoy working on a project basis, with a direct dialogue with the client, and clear deliverables (e.g. not a prolongued program). I enjoy playfulness, lean work, flexibility and at least in my experience, that is also what IT experts enjoy better (they call it, for instance, agile working - working with brief time periods, even as short as a week or a month).

THE ESSENCE and CLIENTS
I am a visual thinker. What you will need first of all, is to be clear on the essence of the learning, in order to be able to visualise it. Edward Tufte wrote a great statement on that, how pitching out corrupts within - like we all know happens with PowerPoint. He also wrote great books on visualising information, but that is for highly experienced artists really.

Actually then, the visual aids your thinking. Our work on a learning platform will surely be iterative (a term from research, meaning: you come back to where you started, enhance simplicity, and rescript everything you developed since to be more essential) also in pedagogical terms. It's part of my added value, that I can offer that dialogue with you at the right level of expertise.

I have a lot of experience in desiging curricula for education, also with clients. We can think about your guiding question (see under question in the index), the knowledge, understanding and skills/capabilities you want to bring across. I can help you think in modular ways about it all, which in turn can guide building an environment that optimally (or pragmatically) suits your teaching/training (modular is a term from architecture, see Breimer 2011). For instance, if the modules are recurrent, and you would like to have the flexibility of inviting different experts to plug in with live education.

Actually, the essence - also from a time investment and technological perspective - always makes sense.

My common-sense approach is to have learning platforms that feature the essence, and therefore are resilient.

To put that conceptually:

A light, lean and resilient learning platform, must be more like a modular framework perhaps (see Breimer 2011 for a deep applied exploration of that architectural concept);

After finalisation, the live and remote interactions between teachers/experts/trainers and learners can ensure the material is contemporary, cutting edge, comes alive etc.


I came to this common sense essence from my own over a decade experience in education, and watching and learning how senior experts and trainers go about their material. What is wisdom? What makes sense in terms of time and budget investment? What is just making your life simpler as a trainer? I now translate these essenital ideas to the online world of learning. And as far as I understand (see below), it is way too early to set any approach in stone.

I also came to this conclusion based on the work on this portfolio (see below under beauty).

It is also my conclusion from intensive remote collaboration on programs globally; the tools rapidly change and become ever more swift. It would be wonderful to play with this contrasts of static elements, and optimal dynamics from the viewpoint of the resilience of the platform.

I'm yet to find my more specific design, featuring options in dynamics for the client, but this definately is my conceptual thinking on it. I'm working towards budget options as well, also balancing off the time of senior expert work vs. the time of a teacher/trainer or functional manager who can keep the platform updated.

All in all, the concept becomes more and more clear, and in the right time (see below under the season), I will feature it online on a light, smartphone proof platform.

My added value compared to any platform developer, is that I can think alongside you at the right level of pedagogics, teaching and training: what makes sense?

I can come alongside to create actual online content, in the form of training modules - either static or with the possibility to be moderated. This may be - but is not limited to - land, water or employment (see under index for the various pages related to them)

For slightly more exclusive clients and within a longer commitment and relationship, I can come alongside to optimize 'live' time. This may include coming with you to the actual training (also in country), to guide, give feedback, learn and improve the blended learning environment online. I previously worked as a teacher trainer and in training of trainers, similar workshop settings on mission etc (For a glimpse see under gallery).

Eventually, I will showcast some options for platforms on a fresh post lockdown proof website, with links to demonstrate what certain options feel and look like. And accompanying budget categories.

If you already see anything that appeals to you, feel free to contact me for an informal dialogue on possibilities. The field is so rapidly evolving, that it seems to make more sense to have an open interaction.


A SEASON OF WIDE EXPLORATION and EXPERIMENTATION
It seems quite the momentum for wide exploration and experimentation.

For the second part of the global lockdown and post-lockdown period, I set out to explore blended and remote learning with a variety of excellent actors in the field, and become clear on my preferred way of lean and light working.

My aim is to find my own set of preferred minimalistic, and modular tools and light, lean, incremental and resilient platforms, by piloting and learning from ideas that come out of the exploration.

Ideally, I am able to find ways to not only learn from developing for clients, with IT experts and artists;
- learn from users/learners. What is effective and pleasant to them?
- and especially learn from teachers/trainers/lecturers. What makes them love the blend, and not find online updating cumbersome, enjoy working with it
I systemized learning before in roles as a teacher, but also as a project lead, and look forward to synthesising this and translating it back to proposal for clients.

The element of beauty as a language is essential to me in the design of light platforms (see below under beauty). I became frustrated with the long development processes of so-called housing styles, and the straightjacket they are if you want to create something that makes sense in terms of pedagogics, something not so bound to a certain field of practice (e.g. being NGOish, or overly technical). Obviously recognisable branding is needed for a client. I'd love to find a nice balance, and very much look forward to this exploration.

I am curious whether it is possible to set up something like action planning/atelier, to realise first visible drafts for smaller/medium clients. That would make it possible to respond to an international call, and realise it more hands-on in my own city and from my own drawing table.

This endeavour is deeply interdisciplinary, technical and pedagogical. Even artistic on beauty as a language.

There is a season for everything under the sun, and I don't want to jump to conclusions in my own exploration. An important reason is that one can save a lot of development costs on projects, if the pioneering, the testing, the learning, is first done on small scale and there is a lot of cross-learning amongst other players in the same field.

This lockdown crisis is bringing a lot of cohesion, collaboration, exchange when it comes to remote learning - really a beautiful and unique time of inventiveness and teamwork. Surely, such a problem-solving and collaborative attitude, is what we need for an unknown future. A good exmample is the TU/Delft Teaching Lab, see for instance Remote teaching and learning support. At least IT experts got that right, theirs is a very level playingfield in development. I want to weave that through my approach as well, steering clear from competition, however tailored it will become.

HOW REMOTE STARTED - AND HOW BLENDED CAME BACK IN, AND 'LIVE' WILL BE OPTIMIZED
I remember the first excitement about Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) when I was a lecturer/trainer myself at the the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) of Erasmus University, Rotterdam The initial idea was to make education open for all, at very low cost, and at massive scale. It was quite pioneering work at quite a few universities of excellence globally, how to make that cost-effective on the development side, and also how to ensure the quality of the learning, the certification.

Surely, many teachers, trainers and lecturers, consultants, were quite hesitant, not only about putting their senior expertise out there, but also about the contact with the real human beings, the learners. I know I was. Also, the mass scale, was so foreign to my own interactive - live - teaching, with 5-120 international student/professionals max. at any given time.

The sudden global lockdown crisis crashed everyone into remote learning - teachers, trainers, lecturers, students, professionals, consultants. No one had an option out, and all had to start crash experimenting how to do this thing: remote learning.

Surely, apart from all the suffering due to the Pandemic and the economic crisis, this is an immensely interesting time in terms of learning from all that pioneering, frustration, inventiveness of teachers/trainers/lecuters/consultants. And equally, from the learners' experiences. It has been quite lonely for some too. I believe this is only just starting to come to the surface, with the first state of panic being over, but still in the uncertainty of just how much longer these lockdowns are going to take, well into 2021.

Without a shadow of a doubt, learning will not go back to being fully about live interaction, not even in the most exclusive cases (but that is wild guesswork) - unless you learn in a developing country perhaps. The interesting question for the post lockdown world of education becomes, just how much blended do we need? How does that balance out in terms of costs?

Eventually, the quest is not even only about what goes online, static or interactive. It is also about what 'live' learning will look like, now that it has become so exclusive and many have found their new natural rhytmns with remote learning/working across the globe. And clients are making their budget trade-offs, possibly with twinkling eyes but with potential tension with teachers/trainers. What is the optimum way forward? The minimum? The wild-card?

Even as, from my experience as a project lead working with professionals on the ground in for instance Africa, in terms of equipment, technology, and connectivity, remote working is still very cumbersome. Several of our program managers, in 2021, had to regularly check in to hotels to have strong enough wifi for our meeting. And equally, these countries typically have huge inequalities in these matters, which may also be reflected in a batch of trainees. This aspect too, will be in my exploration, considering my deep passion to bridge inequality, and making learning accessible to all. It is also relevant to clients I work with, such as trainers of professionals in-country. It makes a case to keep learning platforms as light and simple as possible, including the design of tools etc.

In sum, it seems that the future (post 2021+) of learning and collaboration, innovation, acculturation and dedication is blended (e.g. includes face to face) - leveraged by virtual interaction and learning. This impacts budgets too, as live interaction becomes a precious opportunity. What can really not be replaced by live interation? And: what would make this live interaction optimal? See for instance Harvard Business Review.



Teaching Lab, Technical University Delft, Delft, Randstad metropolitan area. One early morning close to the coast, summer 2020.

I really enjoy seeing just how responsive this TeachingLab team has been to the needs of lecturers. They are also collecting input from lecturers on best practice, and bundling their expertise and suggestions online: Remote teaching and learning support


CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT PHILOSOPHY - ASK a good QUESTION. DIALOGUE.
My interest in capacity development of professionals stems from my time as a teacher / trainer for professionals from all over the world at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development (IHS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Here I was inspired by a decades strong tradition of capacity development, both in country and at the institute.

With time, as I started working within civil society organisations and with private consultancy firms, my understanding of capacity development broadened. Such as when bridging silos within organisations, fostering communication across layers of an international organisation, or liasing between various essential stakeholders in different (country)offices to troubleshoot an issue, e.g. financial.

To me, capacity development is an authentic interaction between equal experts - yet in different fields. Capacity development, in my experience, can be in many ways similar to interdisciplinary teamwork. Sometimes the one professional teaches the other something from his/her field of expertise, and - even in the same session, or later on - the roles turn.

'Only dialogue truly communicates', as Freire wrote (1974 - 2013, p. 43). It is not a one-way direction, which is why I prefer not to use the term capacity building.

My approach to capacity development is that of an 'alongsider', and of asking questions. By 'alongsider' I mean that as a professional I like to be alongside another professional and see what s/he is already doing. To listen first. And to then start to ask questions. Ideally, I am able to ask good questions; questions to stimulate new understandings, connections, realisations on the way forward, questions rooted in the expertise the professional already has.

Important to mention is that in this approach I do not necessarily know the answers to the questions, since it may not be my field of knowledge. But that, to me, is exactly what capacity development is also about (as opposed to merely the transfer of knowledge and skills in a one way direction).

The greatest influence and inspiration on me as a teacher and technical advisor, has been that of the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire who speaks of education for critical consciousness, and the Italian pedagogue Malaguzzi who works a.o. with curiosity, play, creativity and questioning. In essence, my approach comes from a genuine love for the art of asking a good question.


BEAUTY AS A LANGUAGE
If (!) we come to the conclusion, that it does indeed makes sense to build a learning environment for you from scratch, the element of beauty also comes in.

It is always tricky; who can debate beauty?

Yet, the beauty of your learning environment will also be a certain representation of your technical expertise.

This a deeply visual era, globally, and the users of your learning platform will definately be affected by its beauty.

You will need to choose a style for the learning environment, and I'm delighted to think alongside you, or come with suggestions if you are out of ideas yourself (or perhaps, don't really care).

Investment-wise, my ideas on style relate to the robustness of your learning platform, based on the past decade of experience with this portfolio (2012-2021).

What stands the test of time? Not just in technological terms (html, use of devices, security walls, heaviness etc), but also on the layout?

My guesswork is that an environment that is calming in her atmosphere, creates clarity, also ignites learners and teachers/trainers to come back for her, and enhances all the pedagogics built in.

My inspirations for beauty:
- Lots of calming white space as seen in architecture in Brazil/Barcelona Airport/The White City (see under 'gallery').
- Lightweight, almost Japanese drawing like, lines and font as used in architecture/photography publications.
- Masculine corporate and technical - Italian, Turkish, and Elegant at the same time.
- Photography without people, you'll find my angle to that under 'photography'. For the resilience of a platform, I actually feel it will be more robust without people. You could simply add to that in social media.

I love to work light, and lean, be flexible and design following functionality and pedagogical angels. Which is why I cannot work with the corporate house style of a marketing and communication department. We'll look for something in the same lines, but more robust. It need not be from scratch, eventually I will display variations online.

I am in touch with artists - alternative and corporate/commercial - who work along these guidelines, graphic or online.
If you are an artist, and interested to be in this pool of artists, feel free to approach me for an espresso, including your portfolio.


TECHNICAL DISCLAIMER / A little STORYTELLING on whether html still makes sense
This website originated with a Japanese pen, on white drawing paper back in 2012, when I started as a freelancer. I also brought photography/architecture pages, to be clear on the atmosphere and fonts I wanted. The simple idea was to have a visually attractive contact address, just a little more interesting than a paper card, by including my more artistic photography. Something light, swift - like my racerbike.

Together with a befriended website builder, we translated my drawings into html, systematically filed photographs in half a day really. He said, that was an unicum. You can only have that, when the lead is super clear on what she wants and able to indicate it clearly, such as with actual examples.

The idea was to go for the lowest cost possible in online presence in the longrun, using freeware and paying only for the domain name and hosting.

I recall long espresso sessions, with befriended website builders, and IT experts, exchanging ideas, trying to speak each others' language, and being inventive.

These IT experts equipped me with understanding the basics of technological limitations - and took it from my drawings into broad sketches of possibilities online, and actual solutions. I was in the lead, obviously since it was for my freelance undertaking, and balanced all the input, to take a decision for the way forward. We did laugh a lot. And equally got frustrated (the birthplace of ingenuity). IT experts speak a whole other language.

Equally with an artist/graphic designer: how do you translate an idea about an atmosphere and beauty for the other? A Brazilian artist designed my paper businesscard, with so many suggestions and lots of practical experience on the difference between what you see on a screen and on paper, and vice versa.

I became skilled in updating content in html myself, uploading pages online, and even building new pages. Only for the migration to my second hand Mac, did I need another befriended website builder.

Inspired by my love for architecture, I also discovered, that I can challenge a website builder - with ideas on the lightness and sustainability of simplicity in layout (as opposed to ready made layouts), the elegance of a line. Creating an environment that breathes a certain atmosphere that might stimulate a visiter to lingering longer, possibly learning better, and a layout that is more resilient to trend changes in a decade.

Obviously, for the post-lockdown world, html is something close to using DOS.

Admittedly, this html site is rather frustrating for the user. It doesn't even adjust to your smartphone screen, or might be blocked by your firewall because it doesn't use https (you can add the site in settings). If you are visiting here after Jan 19, 2021 for the second time, you may need a hard refresh to import all the content such as images (Cmnd + Shift + R for Apple, Ctrl + F5 for Windows).

Confident then, but without taking myself too seriously, I let this portfolio linger just a little longer. An artist from Brazil even said about this porfolio, that html has become a bit artistic, or a statement - who knows. What is for certain, is that I haven't yet fully explored technically, what the requirements are for professionals in developing countries, to be able to see my portfolio, with weak wifi (see also under 'Capacity Development').

These pages at least are telling. On how an artistic take may bring beauty as a language and create a calming presence. On how that can collide with pedagogical insights on how to spark understanding, curiosity or how to inspire, and is always in dialogue with technical requirements.

These pages are also telling on just how fast the world of education must be changing, through this global lockdown crisis. Not only just based on technological possibilities but also on the immense surge in necessity.

There is a whole spectrum between the freedom of building something from scratch - and the time investment of that - and simply plugging into a template. It has great implications for its adaptability for teachers/trainers too - and functional managers for that matter.

And there is a huge spectrum between fully remote learning platforms that are universally accessible, and blended learning which includes live interaction with a teacher/trainer.

With so much flux, I prefer to take a step back, make the most of this global lockdown season, and first look at what is actually happening in terms of learning and innovation about blended and remote learning as teachers/trainers and students alike resurface a bit, before jumping to conclusions.

What makes sense? Where do we need inventiveness to keep things simple?

For me, to reflect how I'd also weigh options for a client, it seems to make most sense, to keep the 2012/html portfolio, as a reference. It's not visible on your smartphone, but I can send a link in an email so that you can look up information on a laptop screen. Fit enough for the purpose of information on activities that don't depend on a website. And actually telling, on the learning process with technology and art. Building a new website from scratch, once in a decade only, is a good score I'd say, for any client too.

Rather than migrating this site, I prefer to focus my time and inventiveness on being dedicated to visible conclusions in my exploration of capacity development post global lockdown. Creating that lightweight, lean, smartphone proof platform where you as a client can see various options for blended/online learning. Stay tuned throughout 2021, if you're interested in this exploration. It is the heart of my business.

REFERENCES

Freire, Paulo 1974 (2013). Education for critical Consciousness. Bloomsbury Academic, London/New York (UK USA).

Smidt, Sandra 2013. Introducing Malaguzzi; Exploring the life and work of Reggio Emilia's founding father. Routledge, Oxon (UK)

Harvard Business Review (HBR) 2021, When do we really need face to face interactions? Harvard Business Review