Plan International Builds on Learning at Work Day Success

Guest Post by Sasha Smith, Plan International Human Resources Assistant

 

Open University awarded Plan International its Learning at Work Day Award for Inspiring Learning. Sasha Smith holds the award at UK headquarters in December 2013.

The Annual Learning at Work Day/Week is a wonderful opportunity to engage staff in learning, motivate them for further learning and promote the learning resources available to global staff. Plan International has successfully leveraged this event in the past, and will build on that experience – and its LINGOs membership – as it expands Learning at Work Day to Learning at Work WEEK May 19-25.

The annual Learning at Work event encourages employers to organise a day of informal training sessions for employees to learn something they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do. Plan’s event was such a success that the team won the Open University Learning at Work Day Award for Inspiring Learning. The judges commented that were very impressed with Plan’s objective for the event, the partnership work and the promotion of further learning.

Promoting learning

Plan International’s 2013 Learning at Work Day was an opportunity for our team to highlight the fact we are an organisation that promotes and encourages staff to embrace learning within their role on a day-to-day basis.

With so many employees with such a wide variety of skills and knowledge, the focus was on utilising the expertise of colleagues and the day proved to be hugely popular. Sessions and workshops ran throughout the day and included Spanish and Italian lessons, Microsoft Office training and help on how to make the most of social media among others.

Learning at Work Day Going Global

Plan began Learning at Work Day as a UK initiative, but after last year’s success the aim is to now get offices around the world involved. The team is already planning for Learning at Work Day 2014 and working hard to make sure that it isn’t just an International Headquarters initiative.

What do we seek to achieve?

  • To successfully engage employees in learning and motivating them to learn in the future
  • To promote and engage employees with our current learning offerings and resources
  • To encourage employees to take responsibility for their learning and to start actively planning their development with their managers
  • To go global with the Learn at Work Week by encouraging our Regions to get involved as well as offering some IH sessions as webinars to include Plan’s global audience.

Resources for Field Offices

The HR Operations and Learning & Development teams are creating a resource pack to equip both national and country offices with ideas, inspiration and resources to run their own Learning at Work Day. They are also planning to host webinars using Blackboard Collaborate to encourage participation from around the globe on a range of subjects, too.

The teams are also incorporating social media by creating Plan’s very own Learning at Work Day Pinterest board, and using Yammer to spread the word across Plan.

Resources for all LINGOs Members

LINGOs is celebrating Learning at Work Week by hosting several virtual classroom events that may be of interest to the staff of any member organization. Click the buttons to learn more and register. Registration is free – but space is limited. Please share with your global teams! We’d love to have your learning champions, potential eLearners and mentors participate, engage, share and learn with us!

 

For Learning Champions – We are the Champions! Structures and guidance for global NGO Learning Champions

Join LINGOs 2013 Rising Star Nick Walden of Opportunity International has he shares tips and insights from his organization’s highly successful program with Learning Champions.
Eventbrite - LINGOs - Learning at Work Week: We are the Champions! Structures and Guidance for Global NGO Learning Champions

For All who want to learn via technology - Are you ready? Steps to assess readiness and potential to succeed with eLearning

Join Jim Klaas of Dev Ed International  as he shares some the lessons and approaches for helping learners prepare to be successful online learners. Jim willl describe the online learning readiness passport program developed for a global NGO, and what you can do to prepare for success.

Eventbrite - LINGOs - Learning at Work Week: Are you ready? Steps to assess readiness and potential to succeed with eLearning

For potential Mentors –  Mentoring in an NGO 

Join Janine Hackshaw as she presents Accion’s successful and popular mentoring program. What does it take to be a good mentor? How can your organization (or country offices) adopt it? She will discuss how to overcome the challenge of finding good mentors, and answer your questions to help you get started with your own mentoring program.

Eventbrite - LINGOs - Learning at Work Week: Mentoring in a Global NGO: What you need to be a good mentor

New Kid on the Block

Posted by Gus Curran, LINGOs Manager of Member Services

Gus Curran

It is hard to believe it has been four months since my first day at LINGOs. I’ve been enjoying my time as the newest staff person, but in May, LINGOs made a new hire: Beth Bramble, Technical Support Specialist. Beth will be working with Robb Allen on all things technical support. She brings experience not only with the IntraLearn LMS, but she also has graphic design skills and experience with Moodle. We are thrilled to have her on the team. This means, however, that I am no longer the “new kid on the block” at LINGOs, and this has me reflecting on my first few months on the job.

Making the transition from LMS Administrator/Key Contact for a member organization to a LINGOs staff member was generally very smooth. I had already met almost everyone on the LINGOs team at the annual meetings or at various conferences. I was familiar with LINGOs and its mission, and I was excited about joining the team in the newly created position of Member Services Manager.

My first assignment and priority was to help Robb on the technical support help desk so that he could focus on bigger projects such as coding the Last Mile Learning portal. A few months spent solving technical problems and helping members has been a great way to meet many of you. It has also given me both valuable insight into some of the challenges members face and ideas on how we can address those challenges moving forward.

While stepping into my role at LINGOs has been mostly stress-free, the transition from traditional office worker to a virtual worker was more challenging. At LINGOs we don’t call ourselves telecommuters; that term doesn’t apply, because we all work from home and there is no office to commute back to. I like the term “digital nomad” because I truly can work from anywhere in the world. That said, anywhere in the world up to this point is two places: my house and a Starbucks down the street. But I can work from anywhere, if I want to. I suppose I’m more of a digital roamer. I do occasionally roam over to the dining room with my laptop.

If we’ve met before, you might have guessed that I’m what some refer to as a “people person.” On the Insights Color Wheel, I’m sunshiny yellow! Going from an office full of people to just me in my house was a bit of a shock. The first few weeks were difficult. I placed a bird feeder outside of my home office window and named some of the regular visitors after former colleagues. I looked forward to the mailman dropping by and found reasons to be near the door at the time so I could say “hi.” When the woman who makes a daily run past my house with her dog hadn’t gone by in a week, I was concerned. (Don’t worry—she returned, with the dog.)

By Sarah Stierch (Flickr: Yellow Finch) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Over time, however, I have come to enjoy this working-from-home thing. With Skype, Blackboard Collaborate, and that old standby the telephone, I’ve discovered that I stay connected with my LINGOs colleagues and members throughout the day. Skype IM is now my water cooler. I get what I need.

Now I’m handing the new-kid-on-the-block baton to Beth. As Beth takes over as key support contact, I will begin to take what I’ve learned from the past few months and think of ways to improve the LINGOs membership experience.

My “door” is always open. As LINGOs members, you are always welcome to email me  (Gus[at]LINGOs.org) or find me on Skype (gus.curran) if you ever want to talk to me about your LINGOs membership. Not only am I always happy to speak with members, I could probably use the company.

LINGOs Member Logs into Virtual Classrooms on the Go

Guest Post by Gus Curran, Ipas Senior Associate, IT Training

Recently, Ipas has seen an explosion of staff purchasing mobile devices for personal use. In fact, when global staff visit the Ipas office here in Chapel Hill, NC, one of the first questions they ask is usually, “can you take me to the Apple store?”  Of course, US staff have been using iPhones for some time, and the IT unit is always happy to help them set up their devices (Androids too) so that they can access their email and calendar with no problem.  While our IT unit does not officially support iPhones and iPads, our friendly IT staff is always willing to help if time permits.

Blackboard Collaborate’s new mobile feature

So you can imagine the response when I announced that we would offer internal training and workshops on iPhones and iPads thanks to a free app released recently by our friends at Blackboard Collaborate. People were ecstatic! I immediately started hearing stories of people lugging their laptops on short trips or home for the evening for the sole purpose of joining an eRoom session (as we call them at Ipas).

This mobile feature added high value for staff at little or no cost to Ipas, and we decided to promote the feature heavily and help staff make the most of it.

First, we had to upgrade our Blackboard Collaborate rooms to version 12. This free upgrade includes a couple of nice features not available in V 11, including the ability to quickly take away features from participants, such as video or whiteboard rights. This makes grabbing an open microphone much easier.  You may remember these features from Elluminate, and now they are back. More importantly, of course, Blackboard Collaborate 12 Enterprise Licenses are mobile ready.

The Blackboard Collaborate support site offers handouts on how to use the applications. You will find them here . (I absolutely love it when someone else does all the work for me!) I posted links to these handouts on our intranet, along with information that moderators will need to know, which you can find here.  Only participants can use the mobile apps to attend virtual classroom sessions. Moderators still need to use a PC or Mac.

Once the rooms were upgraded and the materials were ready, we held a Lunch and Learn Brown Bag session to officially launch Blackboard Collaborate Mobile. We invited staff to bring their iPhones and iPads over a lunch hour. IT helped staff download the application from the Apple Store and test it out in a live environment. We had everyone play with the interface and test making smileys, typing in chat, raising hands, all of the participant greatest hits.

So, how is the application?

I can share with you that the iPad version is getting great reviews. Feedback has been very positive. In fact, the interface is very simple to use and intuitive, and many people prefer it over the standard interface on their computer. I have personally participated in several sessions via iPad and the sound quality has been very good, there is very little lag time on audio and the participant tools were easy to find and use.  We have briefly tested application sharing on the iPad, and it worked well, but we haven’t done enough testing yet to offer a definitive review.

The iPhone version gets less spectacular reviews. Obviously the smaller screen can be an issue, but if you’re used to using your iPhone a lot you’re probably used to the small screen. The bigger problem is audio. People report that the sound delay can be significant. Participants do hear the audio and see the content, but due to the delay in audio, the content on slides seems off.  Already one update to the application has addressed the audio lag, so Blackboard is aware of the issue and working on it, but they aren’t quite there yet. However, when your attendance at a session is mandatory, and you are stuck in an airport or in the field, the iPhone works well enough to allow for participation with just a little frustration.

Overall, people are very happy with the Blackboard Collaborate Mobile Application. Promoting this feature has not added support time to the IT help desk and was relatively simple thanks to the tools provided by the Blackboard Collaborate support site.

Key info before you get started

Blackboard Collaborate Mobile Web Conferencing

iOS Operating System 4.3 and above
Apple iPad 2 Certified
Apple iPad 3 Certified
Apple iPod Touch (4th Generation) Certified
Apple iPhone 4 Certified
Apple iPhone 4s Certified

*Blackboard Collaborate Mobile Web Conferencing, available in version V12, is included in the license for enterprise and departmental-licensed customers and has already been enabled for these accounts. Mobile is not available for Moderator access, or single room vclass customers. To learn more about licensing, please visit -> http://www.blackboard.com/Platforms/Collaborate/Products/Blackboard-Collaborate/Licensing/Comparison-Chart.aspx

The Blackboard Collaborate licenses included in LINGOs membership have access to the mobile feature. Many LINGOs member agencies have also purchased additional Moderator Access licenses for which Mobile Web Conferencing is not available.

To create a Blackboard Collaborate session with access for mobile users:

  1. Log into the moderator interface at https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/myelluminate
  2. Click the Schedule a Meeting button.
  3. Click the Default Fields button.
  4. Fill out the meeting form being sure to change the Version field to 12.  (NOTE:  If you want all future meetings to automatically use Blackboard Collaborate 12, click the Save as Defaults button).
  5. Click the Create the Session button.

DevLearn: from geeks to witches and everything in between…

Guest Post by Shannon Cavallari, PATH; Samantha Hackett, Save the Children; Catriona Moriarty, Conservation International; and, Jenn Soliman, Ipas

 Introduction to DevLearn

We had the wonderful opportunity to attend DevLearn 12: Embracing Technologies, an event that is targeted for like-minded geeks who use new technologies to make us better at what we do. A second and equally beneficial opportunity was to strengthen relationships among the LINGOs members attending the conference.

It was important for us not only to get the most out of the conference, but also to ensure that we were frugal with costs given the location. As a partner of LINGOs, the eLearning Guild donates one Premium Membership, which also includes one admission to a conference and pre-conference workshop (a cost savings of almost $1500!). Continuing our cost-saving strategy the four of us shared two rooms, a decision which would yield way more benefits than splitting the bill. If you know anything about this group, you know that networking and sharing does not stop once you leave the conference room floor.

The eLearning Guild always hosts a fantastic conference and this year’s DevLearn was no exception. Located in the Aria Resort and Conference Center on the Las Vegas Strip, it was hard to show up the glitz and glamour of all the lights, but they did.

Favourite moments

Samantha Hackett, Save the Children UK

Wow, what an amazing week, there were some fantastic speakers at this year’s conference, and I was both excited and a little freaked out to be counted among them presenting on the Mobile Learning stage for a session called The Potential for Cloud Learning with an amazing co-speaker Gerry Griffin from Skill Pill M-Learning. The session looked at the challenges organizations like ours face both culturally and technologically and how to best approach these challenges using innovations like mobile learning, how delivery mode impacts the style and shape of the learning content and how best to take advantage of the cloud.

What a great opportunity this was and looking back on my first eLearning Guild conference three years ago, where everything seemed so new and complicated, it highlighted to me, how far we as LINGOs members have come over the last few years. I was subjected to the usual challenges of a speaker (failing equipment, background noise, dessert trolley arriving mid-way through), but I really enjoyed it and I would encourage other LINGOs members to think about taking the plunge and becoming a speaker at the next eLearning Guild event- as we really are doing some innovative “stuff.”

This was a truly wonderful week with some great sessions, but it also provided many networking opportunities. I met some really fantastic people who were very interested in the work that we do, so I saw this not only as an opportunity for ourselves to look at how we could support our own individual work, but as a way to highlight the work that LINGOs is doing and encourage people to get involved. After the Welcome Reception Halloween night, it seemed that everyone knew about the LINGOs witches.

Finally, it was great to use the DevLearn app to keep up-to-date on agendas, vendors, speakers, and thankfully, maps . I hope next year, we can do away with paper all together.

Left to right: Samantha Hackett, Catriona Moriarty, Eric Berg, Jenn Soliman, Shannon Cavallari.

Jenn Soliman, Ipas

There are two moments that stick out in my mind about this conference: the pre-conference workshop and the Tin Can API session.

Full of confidence, Samantha, Shannon and I initially enrolled into the Intermediate to Advanced Storyline workshop. After all, we were confident in our Articulate Studio abilities, had downloaded and played in Storyline and even watched a few demos and tutorials. Unfortunately, this was not enough and at the first break, with our heads down, we moved to the Introduction to Storyline workshop led by Ron Price of Yukon Learning. The Yukon Learning team led us through exercises to gain knowledge on the basics of Storyline.  I feel much more confident in my Storyline skills and look forward to putting my skills into practice on my next course. Our lesson learned: just because you are confident in one tool doesn’t mean those skills or knowledge will easily translate to another. Articulate Studio and Articulate Storyline are significantly different.

Tin Can API is an entirely new concept to me, one that I probably still don’t fully understand. That being said, it is moments like this that excite me the most about attending these conferences. I feel like I am on the edge of innovation and I can’t wait to learn more. I attended a session with Tin Can experts and their knowledge and explanation of Tin Can API enticed me to learn more.

Here is a shortened explanation of what Tin Can API is from their website: The Tin Can API is a brand new learning technology specification that opens up an entire world of experiences (online and offline). This API captures the activities that happen as part of learning experiences. A wide range of systems can now securely communicate with a simple vocabulary that captures this stream of activities.

I think this learning technology creates many opportunities for data to support our programs and is something we should not miss out on.

In addition to learning at DevLearn, we were also able to build our relationships by spending time together. On Saturday, after the conference ended, Shannon, Samantha and I drove to the Hoover Dam. We arrived just as the sun was starting to set. The reflection on the water was magnificent and the mountains looked like they were painted pink. It was a beautiful sight.

This was the first time I have attended DevLearn and let me just say, I completely geeked out. I attended the conference with two specific objectives in mind: to walk away with a better skillset and use of Storyline and to wrap my head around the term gamification. And of course, network.

As Jenn pointed out, the Introduction to Storyline workshop was excellent. The trainers, the materials, and the hands-on activities were exactly what I needed to start to think about how and when I would use this new tool within PATH.

There were a ton of interesting sessions, sometimes overlapping. It wasn’t a problem identifying what to attend; it was identifying which session I wanted to attend more. In some instances, this is where teamwork paid off as some of my LINGOs friends would attend one session while I attended another. Later in the evening we would debrief and share notes.

I attended a few sessions on gamification, a term used to describe the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in non-game contexts. One particular session, Understanding the Value of Games and Gamification for Serious Learning, not only presented on the topic but demonstrated how to incorporate games into learning. Dividing the room into two teams, we used a polling technology and texted our answers to questions the presenter asked. I’d like to point out that my team won J I walked away from DevLearn with an understanding on how, when and why you would try to incorporate gamification into your design.

We used the LINGOs booth as our central meeting place during the conference. On more than one occasion, I spoke to interested designers and vendors who wanted to know what LINGOs was, how I was affiliated and what they could do to get involved. It’s an amazing feeling to sing the praises of LINGOs and the member agencies. To discuss with confidence the Last Mile Learning initiative, Global Giveback and what the consortium does as a group. I think I may be pretty good at this gig, for I was abandoned by Eric at least once to man the booth due to a “meeting” he had. Either that or he knows I have no problem asking people to donate their time or resources to such a worthy consortium. Next time, I think Eric owes me dinner! ;)

Catriona Moriarty, Conservation International

It’s early Wednesday morning, and I’ve finally arrived in the glistening Las Vegas desert! With Hurricane Sandy a swirling blur behind me, I am ready to dip a toe into DevLearn! As anticipated, it is an enticing mix of techies, hash tags, QR codes, and innovative TECHNOLOGY! My red-eye wander shifts to wide-eyed wonder after the first of many coffees in the hall. My first session is Tracy Bissette of WeeJee Learning! She is brilliant. Tracy introduces an instructional design challenge, and three different panelists. They each pitch their unique methodologies for planning, designing, and delivering training solutions to solve for the challenge. It’s super interesting to see their different approaches, mock ups, and the platforms they leverage to launch! It gives me unique insight into the questions one needs to ask up front before moving eLearning ideas into design, introduces me to iBooks authoring (love!) and reinforces the importance of understanding your audience. With each concurrent session, I settle deeper and deeper into the dizzying and dazzling technology dose that is DevLearn!

After hours, we do find some fun! It is Vegas, after all… Our LINGOs crew rallies and we find ourselves sharing new insights, knowledge, and many questions! What is this Project Tin Can thing all about anyway?!? We are messaging and tweeting and connecting and most importantly, inspired by everyone around us. It’s all very sparky and cool! And yes, there are some costumes and cocktails involved!

After three days of tech madness and stimulating discoveries, we are poolside, perusing the DemoFest guide, and soaking up some serious sun. Aaaaaaaah! DevLearn. See you next year!

Closing thoughts

A conference is just that…a conference. It’s what you make of your time while you are there that matters; what sessions you choose to attend, soaking up new information and skills, networking, and strengthening relationships. We each came to the conference with our own objectives, but I think we not only made the most of our time while we were there. We also strengthened the relationship between each other and are still using “whatsapp” to group text regularly in preparation for meeting up at the Lingos conference.  A special thanks to David Holcombe from the eLearning Guild for your and the Guild’s participation in LINGOs.

Left to right: Catriona Moriarty, Shannon Cavallari, Samantha Hackett, Jenn Soliman.

Ten Tips to Increase e-Learning Usage

Guest post by Suziana Shukor, Learning & Development Coordinator, Islamic Relief Worldwide

Inspired by recent LINGOs webinar with Dawn Kohler of The Inside Coach on eLearning Effectiveness, Suzi did some research put together Guidelines on How to Increase eLearning Usage for her team of learning Champions and has shared it with the LINGOs Community. This post contains 10 tips from the Guidelines, built from her review of the literature and The Inside Coach session.

1.     Talk to your audience – and share the results

While it would be nice if there were a ‘magic bullet’ that would make hordes of learners flock to online courses, there is no one right answer to the question of how to get users more involved with e-learning.

In fact, the most consistent point that came out of research was the importance of thoroughly understanding your users before figuring out how to ‘sell’ e-learning to them. We must know our target audience before selecting or designing e-learning courses that will appeal to them.

Some simple questions to find out about your users and their needs:

  • What type of computer and internet connection do they have at work and at home
  • Which learning topics are most important to them
  • What time of day they prefer to learn
  • What is their IT proficiency level

Do

Research your audience before launching an e-learning initiative. Give users what they need. Then advertise the fact that they are getting exactly what they asked for.

 Don’t

  Assume you what users what without asking   them.

 

 2.     Pay attention to culture

Surveys and focus groups are good ways to find out what users need, but it’s equally important to understand something much less tangible: an organisation culture. And within a single culture, there are distinct subcultures, many of which develop around job titles. Project workers who are accustomed to competing in their jobs may respond well to games and contests – an approach that may fall flat with IT professionals.

Do

Think long and hard about your organization’s culture and the types of marketing approaches might work with different groups of learners.

Do users appreciate humour and whimsy, or do they want “just the facts”? Do contests and games motivate them, or are they more likely to respond to simple e-mail reminders?

Don’t

Market e-learning the same ways in a “command-and control” environment as you would in a more team-oriented culture.

 

 3.     Be specific in your marketing

One of the most common mistakes people make when marketing e-learning is that promoting the initiative as a whole, rather than what’s in it for them. It’s important to talk with target groups about specific offerings. Mass marketing delivers the strategic message; target marketing is for sending very specific messages.

Target groups based on more than just job titles. Other factors to think about: level within the organisation (e.g. entry level workers, middle managers or executives), location, the language they speak and the extent of their compute knowledge. For example, if you are offering a basic course on using the Windows interface, send an e-mail to a group of computer newbies across all job functions, not to everyone in the organisation.

Craft your messages to answer the “what’s in it for me?” question for each group. If you’re sending an update to upper-level management, include personal comments from other higher-level managers who have seen their employees’ productivity rise as a result of the e-learning initiatives. If you are targeting a group of IT people, include testimonials from IT workers who have received valuable certifications using e-learning. Show how e-learning can give different values to different learners.

Do

Make sure your marketing messages are directed at specific groups of people. Let each group know what’s in it for them.

Don’t

Put all your effort in to mass marketing, leaving learners overwhelmed by a mountain of courses.

4.     Find e-learning champions

One of the keys to increasing e-learning usage is having a few strong advocates who will talk up your initiative. Again, the identity of these champions depends on your organisation’s culture. But no matter who your champions are, they should have the following characteristics:

  •  A genuine, passionate belief in the value of learning. Don’t ask disinterested executive to say a few words at the organisation meeting simply because of his or her rank within the organisation. If your organisation dictates that you must have specific individuals speaking on behalf of the e-learning initiative, do everything you can to bring them on board before they begin promoting the programme.
  • In some cases, your e-learning champions might simply be a talented entry-level employee who’s friendly, articulate and respected by his or her colleagues. If this individual takes an online course and spreads the word about his or her positive experience, it becomes a powerful incentive for the co-workers.

Do

Put some of the marketing onus on users and managers. If they believe in the programme, it’s to their advantage to tell others about it.

 Get users’ stories of how the learning initiative helped them to do their work better to achieve your organization’s mission.

Don’t

Count on e-learning champions to come out of their own without any effort on your part.

 Identify which groups or individuals are most likely to benefit and make sure they understand how online learning will help them.

 5.     Get learners’ managers involved

The most powerful champions or resistors of e-learning are often the learners’ own managers. E-learning may be supported at the highest levels within the organisation and employees may be clamouring for it, but your initiative will go nowhere if front-line managers don’t buy in.

Do

Make sure managers understand the benefits of e-learning so they recommend it to the people who report them.

Provide data from your LMS on employee learning to the learner’s managers.

Share announcements and information on course availability to managers.

Let managers know how their department is doing compared to others in terms of learning resources.

Don’t

Direct your marketing efforts only at learners.

 

Assume managers don’t want to be able to check in with their staff on their learning progess.

 

 6.     Brand your programme

Any company that’s launched a product or service knows that one of the keys to success is branding. When consumers have a positive experience with a certain brand, they’re likely to remember it and to buy it again and again. A branded programme will help learners remember it and go back for more. It’s also likely to give staff the impression that the learning is supported at the highest levels of the organisation.

Do

Brand your e-learning effort – or your training programme as a whole with a logo/animated character and/or consistent typefaces. You’ll provide users with a visual trigger, reminding them that this new flyer or Web Page is related to the one they saw last week.

Don’t

Haphazardly send out communication pieces that look and feel different from each other.

 

 7.     Don’t stop with the launch; keep communicating

While a launch party or other kick-off even can help generate excitement for a new e-learning initiative, that’s only the beginning. Other types of communication methods include: newsletters, e-mails, events etc.

  •  Refresh users’ memories of what they learned at the launch of your program
    • Send a series of emails or
    • post pamphlets/fliers around the work place
  • Send personalised email messages with updated offerings every couple of weeks or once a month, to specific groups.

Do

Keep people engaged long after the kick-off party by regularly informing them of new courses, certifications and services. Also, communicate in a variety of ways, including e-mails, pamphlets, posters, and lunch-and-learn sessions.

Don’t

Overwhelm people with too much e-mail. Weekly or biweekly messages give just enough information without being perceived as “junk.”

 8.     Link learning to outcomes

Research shows that most companies are using a variety of incentives to encourage employees to learn online. However, it usually takes more than a gift or certificates to turn employees into repeat e-learners.  Some ways to add accountability include:

  •  Talking about training expectations during performance appraisals. Many managers already require their employees to complete continuing education or upskilling courses as part of their professional development plans. Build eLearning resources into this education plan.
  • Making e-learning a prerequisite to classroom learning. If your online library includes a course that complements an instructor-led class, require people to take the online class before signing up for the in-person event. Not only does this bring everyone up to speed on the basics before they come into the classroom, allowing you to make the most effective use of the valuable “face-time” with the instructor, but it reminds employees of the valuable eLearning resources available to them 24/7.
  • Offering certification. Offer online courses that lead to highly desired (or required) certifications that will allow the motivated learner to advance within your organization.

Do

Let learners know how important e-learning is by tying courses usage or completion to performance reviews and access to certification.

Don’t

Assume people will take online courses without a “push” from managers.

 

 9.     Give learners enough time and space to do e-learning

In a classroom session, it would be unusual (not to mention rude) for a learner’s manager or co-worker to barge in and ask a quick question or borrow a pen. But when an employee is sitting at his or her desk, quietly staring at the computer screen while typing or clicking, the person’s co-workers don’t know – and, in some cases, don’t care – that he or she may be in the middle of a class. These constant interruptions, as well as, the resulting perception that e-learning is somehow less important and therefore easier to disrupt than classroom learning may discourage people from taking or completing online courses.

One of the best ways to increase e-learning usage is actually one of the simplest. Make sure learners are able to concentrate while they’re taking an online course. There are several ways of doing that, including:

  •  Setting up a separate area for e-learning. Ideally, this would be a designated room for quiet learning. If there is none in your organisation, give some time e.g. afternoon session to enable your staff to learn;
  • Posting visual reminders that someone is “in class”. If your organisation isn’t able to set aside separate e-learning areas away from learners’ desks, make sure people have some way of communicating that they’re taking a course and should not be interrupted. For example: tape a sign “Learning in Progress” to the back of your chair.
  • Forwarding e-mails and calls. If someone is taking an instructor-led course off-site, they wouldn’t be expected to check their e-mail every five minutes, nor would they be required to take phone calls during class. The expectations for e-learning should be no different.
  • Offer your employees an option to take eLearning courses off-site (from home, or another location with internet, either during work-hours or on their own time).

Do

Minimise distractions to learners as much as possible, either by creating a separate learning section or by posting visual symbols in e-learners’ offices to let their colleagues know they’re busy learning.

Don’t

Expect e-learning usage to increase in situations where learners are constantly interrupted by phone calls, e-mail messages and colleagues.

 

10.     Make it easy

From our experience, easy access is crucial because if it is difficult to access to e-learning, staff will be put off. If they have to jump to 10 loops and have to get multiple approvals and long delay, they won’t bother. As such at Learning & Development we have designed a very simple process.

We have also developed a three-piece ‘Managing e-learning courses in your office’ for   e-learning champions which comprise of:

1) Enrolment process for learners

2) Approving courses as LMS Order Manager

3) eCornell process (this resource runs on a separate platform)

Do

Make easy access to learners – don’t make them have to jump over 20 loops.

Make approvals easy for learners – don’t take 3 months to approve one course! Ideally, your local learning champions should be able to do this. So train them.

Limit the number of courses learners can take at one time – if not, you will find 20 courses on your LMS for each learner. Again, local champions will be able to advise learners what courses they should prioritise.

Don’t

Require multiple approvals – remember easy and open access

Assume learners don’t want to learn – if some learners or Country Offices have a low e-learning take up, find out why. Never assume staff is lazy!

Lump all the hundreds of courses on the LMS and expect them to work wonders because you need to “sell” them.

Assume that the best learning technologies can lead to the best learning because they won’t. You will still need to engage with your learners. And that means, folks, sometimes you need to sound less clever so that others can sound cleverer (get rid of that hubris!).

For more insights and tips, read the full Guidelines on How to Increase eLearning Usage.

 

                                                              

Watch the recorded webinar with Dawn Kohler of The Inside Coach

    

Attend the LINGOs 2012 Member Meeting – it’s all   about Engagement

Review   the preliminary agenda

    

Check out the gold medal tips from a learning champion, posted on the blog last summer

Gold Medal Tips from an NGO Learning Champion

Guest Post by Regina Bell, International Justice Mission

International Justice Mission (IJM) is a human rights organization that works with local governments to rescue victims of sex trafficking and labor slavery and helps local police and prosecutors apprehend and prosecute perpetrators. Over the past 15 years, IJM has grown from one field office to fifteen, and from a small group of Washington DC lawyers to an international team comprised of 455 global staff members. Approximately 95%IJM’s staff members are nationals of the countries in which they work, and IJM is committed to supporting its indigenous leaders with world-class professional development resources.

Drawn to the abundant resources LINGOs provides for international NGOs, IJM joined LINGOs in 2007 as a Level 1 Member, using the shared LINGOsLearning portal. The staff in IJM’s office in Chennai, India, has been the biggest user of the LINGOs learning resources. The key reason for this is a highly engaged leader in that field office, Director of Administration Priya Juliet.

 

Priya’s Story

Priya Juliet

Priya’s story is particularly inspirational, as the LINGOs Learning resources played a big part in her professional growth and ability to make a difference for her colleagues in Chennai. In fact, Priya is a model for the type of internal leadership development that IJM is working to develop more widely in its field offices. She joined IJM in 2005 as a legal assistant, and has also filled roles as a receptionist and paralegal.

Priya remembers distinctly the day that she received an email sent from IJM HQ announcing the rollout of LINGOs courses. For Priya, the opportunity to take courses for free which would promote her own professional development was exciting because high quality, accessible professional development resources are scarce in Chennai. Priya was particularly interested in the Harvard ManageMentor courses (due to the Harvard name), and she completed all of the courses in short order. “When an opportunity like the Harvard Management Course Series comes along, take it,” she said. “It’s an incredibly accessible program, yet, it comes free (through IJM’s membership in LINGOs).  This is an excellent opportunity for learning and professional growth.”

As a reward for Priya’s diligence, the field office director offered her a day off, but in Priya’s words, “the better motivation was receiving the completion certificate.” When IJM first launched LINGOs learning resources for staff, there was little formal support in place, and staff were instead encouraged to take advantage of the programs based on their personal interest – as Priya says, her learning efforts were “200% [her] own personal interest.”

Two years after Priya completed all of the Harvard ManageMentor courses, she was promoted to Director of Administration and charged with overseeing all Human Resources and Finance functions in the Chennai field office. Since then, she’s become a gold-medal learning champion. During her tenure as Director of Administration, Chennai staff members have completed close to 400 courses, with 10 staff members earning completion certificates in the past year. These results far exceed those of IJM’s other field offices, no doubt due to Priya’s hard work and personal involvement with learners in her office. We’ve learned from her approach and shared with the IJM Global HR team – and here with the LINGOs community.

Our hope is that as more IJM HR staff in the field take an active role in encouraging learners, future leaders like Priya will take advantage of the courses and will be better equipped to provide rescue and relief to the clients we seek to serve.

 

5 Tips from a Learning Champion

Priya is a Learning Champion – here are a few tips she recommends to others taking advantage of LINGOs training in their organizations:

 

1.  Motivate and Encourage Learners

  • Introduce each staff member to learning resources

Priya meets with each staff member individually and informs them using simple terms about the available courses. Responses to these informational meetings have been enthusiastic.

  • Language support- audio versions

 Priya makes certain that staff members with varying degrees of comfort in English have the support they need. For example, she found that at times, individuals are better able to understand the audio version of the Harvard Business Publishing courses.

  • Communicate to encourage use of courses

Priya encourages staff members to complete the courses with frequent communication (weekly status updates, calls and texts), and even goes into the office on weekends to help trainees as they work through the courses.

 2. Monitor learner progress

Priya created a simple monitoring system once staff were registered, and personally monitors learner progress. She uses the reporting functionality of the Learning Management System (LMS) to track user access and progress and communicate progress with learners.

 3. Keep supervisors up-to-date with learner progress

Priya also keeps supervisors aware of their employee’s learning achievements. Now that she is an office leader, she desires to motivate and encourage staff in their learning efforts, recognizing how important this is as a source of encouragement.

IJM Chennai learners proudly display their hard-earned Harvard ManageMentor completion certificates. (Faces obscured for security reasons).

In Chennai, as in many places, certificates are an important way to publicly recognize achievement. IJM has developed a certificate of completion for the Harvard ManageMentor courses, in accordance with the Harvard Business Publishing Guidelines available through the LINGOs membership.

 5.   Share Successes and Support Learning Champions with Promotional Resources

IJM’s global learning team has sought to replicate Priya’s methods on a global scale, with the goal of similar engagement in other field offices. Recently, IJM’s LMS administrator held virtual classroom events (via Blackboard Collaborate) with HR staff in each region, to reintroduce HR staff to the eLearning resources and encourage them to act as learning liaisons in their respective offices. The administrator shared a slide deck that the champions can use in their offices, and encouraged them to keep in close touch with the learning team at HQ, and with one another, to share successes and challenges.

Participating in the LINGOs community – through the LINGOs Group on LinkedIn, Virtual Coffee Breaks and vDemo Fests, and the Annual LINGOs Member Meeting – is a great way to become a learning champion! You can learn new approaches and share what’s working well for you with others working to build capacity for international development, humanitarian relief, conservation and social justice. Join us!

 

  

 

 

 

 

5 great resources to help your search for an LMS

Guest Post by Susan O’Connell, Learning and Organizational Development Manager at Habitat for Humanity International

 

With a large global staff working in over 70 countries joined by thousands of new volunteers each year, Habitat for Humanity International’s learning needs led us to join LINGOs as a founding member back in 2005 and begin leveraging the IntraLearn LMS that comes with our Level 2 membership. The system served our early needs well, but over time our motivated learners have been giving the LMS a bigger and bigger work out.  At times registering up to 200 new users each month, we realized that we were ready to leverage LINGOs’ SCORM Dispatch capabilities to implement a new LMS that would provide learners with differentiated access privileges for self-enrollment and immediate access to learning resources, along with additional automation for both our users and learning managers. Recognizing the need for a new LMS is the easy part. With around 500 LMS vendors out there, choosing one can feel like wandering through a forest searching for the perfect tree.

Here are five resources that I found very useful during this selection process and that I would recommend to anyone else facing the same challenge.

1.       Start with your organization’s needs and requirements

In three or four bullet points, describe the top issues that the organization is experiencing with the current system and restate those as a summary of your top needs. This short, high-level summary was very useful throughout the selection process to communicate with various stakeholders, to define the requirements, and to make the final selection. I’ll continue to use it as we move into implementation.

After you have summarized the needs, document the requirements. The requirements are the specific features and functionality that the new system should include. This will be more detailed than the needs summary and it will take longer to finalize. You’ll have to distinguish which requirements are absolute ‘must-haves’ and which are ‘wants.’ Use the needs summary along with input from key stakeholders to do this.

Send the requirements to the vendors you are interested in and ask them to use these to plan a demonstration of their systems. Then, make sure their demonstrations cover these requirements. Most vendors I worked with were happy to have the requirements but I was surprised that a couple ignored them completely until I pushed them! This said a lot to me about what those vendors would be like to work with.

2.       Talk to other LMS users and administrators

Choosing a new LMS for your organization can feel daunting if you’ve never done it before – or even if you have. You can gain a lot of confidence and knowledge by reaching out to others who have been there. Think about all of the contacts you have available to you through your LINGOs membership, other learning providers for your organization, and your own personal and professional contacts.  Everyone I contacted was more than willing to share their experiences with me.

Create a list of questions that you would ask each contact while listening for whatever additional information they might offer. Every organization has their own unique needs and resources, and it will be important to know what those differences are to frame their input in context. I found it helpful to learn how various organizations were staffed to support the LMS and if they had renewed the contract with their vendor yet. Through these contacts I learned that one vendor raised their price 25% after the original three-year contract was up.

3.       Attend conferences and webinars

Using our LINGO’s member benefit to the eLearning Guild, I was among one of the 1,800 attendees and 69 suppliers at the DevLearn conference in 2011. I did not talk to all 1800 attendees, but I certainly tried! In each conversation I mentioned Habitat’s search for an LMS and picked as many brains as I could for experiences and suggestions.

At the DevLearn conference, I attended a useful session titled “The ABCs of selecting an LMS” delivered by Mike Baker and Stacy Lindenberg of First Citizens Bank[1]. Among other great tips they shared, I picked up the idea to ask one of the LMS vendors to provide me with a well-known industry report on learning management systems, which normally costs about $1,500.

Throughout the selection process I attended any and all free webinars that touched on the topic of Learning Management Systems. These were offered by organizations like the eLearning Guild, Brandon Hall Group, and TrainingIndustry.com. It was through one of these webinars that I discovered the vendor that we ultimately chose.

4.       Partner with your Information Technology Department

Your IT department may not be familiar with Learning Management Systems, but they know how to work with software vendors and they know the ins and outs of implementing systems within your organization. At the beginning of our selection process, we were assigned a terrific IT resource who attended vendor demonstrations with me, asked technical questions related to systems integration, and guided us through the contract review. He also helped navigate some of the internal relationships with key stakeholders.

5.       Leverage the LMS vendors

Finally, don’t forget to leverage the vendors you are talking to for whatever resources they can provide! As I mentioned previously, this was how we were able to obtain an otherwise costly industry report. Three things that you should absolutely ask a vendor to provide are:

  • A demonstration of their system that shows how it will meet your requirements.
  • An informal and initial pricing estimate (you don’t need a formal price quote until you’ve narrowed down the top 1-3 vendors, but knowing how they structure their pricing and the range is useful in the early stages).
  • A ‘sandbox’ environment – basically an account that allows you to access their system to test your requirements, test the SCORM Dispatch packages, and try out your user scenarios.

If you find yourself lucky enough to be in the position to select a new LMS for your organization, I hope the five resources above are as useful to you as they were to me. For those of you wondering which vendor we ultimately selected, it was the Intellum Exceed system. Check them out as part of your search, but remember that your organization’s requirements will determine which system is best for you.  

[1] You can access many resources from conferences, even if you don’t attend! For example, you can access backchannel resources from DevLearn here.

 


 Interested in learning more about SCORM Dispatch and what it would mean for your organization? LINGOs Member Agency LMS Administrators have a chance at the July 17 LMS Administrator Question and Answer Session.

Eventbrite - LINGOs LMS Administrator Community Q & A - July 17, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. eastern time