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“Sphere in Practice” online training and MOOC



Sphere’s newly released e-learning course “Sphere in Practice” supports students, humanitarian professionals and anyone who wishes to learn about humanitarian standards in an interactive and engaging way.

On top of being entirely free of charge and soon available in multiple languages, Sphere in Practice is designed to adapt to your time availability and needs. You can study at your own pace, completing all lessons in 8-10 hours in total, or attend a massive open online course (MOOC) which includes assignments, moderated discussion forums and interactive webinars. Being part of the MOOC will help you exchange with fellow students, discuss with expert practitioners, expand your network and make the most of your learning experience.

The online training is based on the 2018 edition of the Sphere Handbook and reflects the major challenges currently faced by the sector. It features realistic examples from complex and protracted crises, a range of settlement scenarios including urban settings, and covers many topics including Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA). Dynamic links to the Interactive Sphere Handbook will help you connect these scenarios to the guidance provided by Sphere standards.

For more information, do not hesitate to contact us or read the Frequently Asked Questions below.


Registrations for the first edition of the MOOC (March-May 2021) are now closed.
Take the self-paced course instead.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is this online training free of charge?

    Yes, Sphere in Practice is entirely free of charge. All you need is an internet connection.

  • How is Sphere in Practice different from previous online courses?

    The new course references the 2018 edition of the Sphere Handbook and includes dynamic links to the Interactive Handbook.

    Compared to the old course, Sphere in Practice reflects the same changes between the 2011 and 2018 editions of the Sphere Handbook. For example, the course scenarios are more representative of current humanitarian crises; covering complex, protracted crises with less focus given to sudden-onset disasters compared to the old course. Similarly, a range of settlement scenarios (including urban settings) are covered with less focus on formal camp settings.

    The new course has a brand-new Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) topic, and a new section describing the critical difference between standards and targets, which must not be overlooked.

  • What will I learn during the course?

    By the end of this course, you will be able to:

    • Define the rights of people affected by crises and disasters;
    • Discuss the value of the Sphere principles and standards in supporting a high-quality and accountable humanitarian response;
    • Describe how to use the Sphere Handbook in key areas of humanitarian work including:
      • accountability to affected populations (AAP), which includes participation, building on and strengthening capacities and two-way communication;
      • needs and capacities assessment;
      • programme design, monitoring and evaluation and coordination;
      • upholding the rights, security and dignity of affected populations;
      • resilience and early recovery.
  • How long will it take to complete the course?

    The Sphere in Practice self-paced course represents around 8 to 10 hours of study. Subject to availability, the new course can also be taken as a massive open online course (MOOC), which adds a further 8 to 10 hours of study time split between live webinars and moderated discussion forums. The first edition of the MOOC will take place between March and May 2021.

  • I don’t speak English. Can I still take the training?

    Sphere in Practice is currently available as a self-paced online course in English. French, Spanish and Arabic versions are currently in production. Other versions may follow (contact us for more information!).

  • I already took the “Sphere Handbook in Action” online training. Should I take this new one?

    Yes! This new course replaces the “Sphere Handbook in Action” course, which was accessed by over 40,000 people since release in 2013. Sphere in Practice borrows some elements from the previous course, but most of the content is new or significantly refreshed. So, even if your already passed the old course, please don’t hesitate to study the new one.

  • Will I receive a certificate at the end of the course?

    Yes. All those who successfully complete the training will receive a certificate of completion.


  • I cannot attend the live MOOC in March 2021. Will there be more opportunities to do it in the future?

    We certainly hope so. The Sphere office will be encouraging, supporting and enabling our partners around the world to run the Sphere in Practice MOOC. If this could be you, please get in touch!