Update from Learning Solutions 2014! Celebrating this year’s Global Giveback & 10 years of volunteer service to LINGOs

Posted By Gus Curran, LINGOs Manager of Member Services

Gus CurranGreetings from sunny Florida! I am here at the eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions Conference, along with Eric Berg and several LINGOs members and volunteers. It has been a very interesting conference so far. I am here mainly to spread the word about LINGOs and to find eLearning professionals willing to share their talents with LINGOs members through the Global Giveback initiative. We are so grateful to the eLearning Guild for giving us this space. And of course, extremely grateful for the Guild’s generous partnership that allows LINGOs members to send someone from each member organization to this conference free of all registration fees.

Today LINGOs  announced the winner and finalists of the 2014 Global Giveback Competition at The eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida.  The Global Giveback, now in its fifth year, is a program through which learning professionals volunteer with global development and relief organizations to design and develop learning resources to help the non-profits do their good work better. The Competition is limited to eLearning courses.

This year’s winner, Samantha Yates, created a course for Last Mile Learning and The Nature Conservancy titled Influencing Without Authority. The scenario based course follows a development worker as she tries to negotiate with regional officials to introduce a project in a region where her organization has never worked previously. The engaging back and forth between the characters in the course provides a realistic and immersive learning environment that supports the learning objectives of this skill-based course. We gave a sneak peak at this great course last summer, and it’s available on LINGOs’ Last Mile Learning open portal  if you want to take a look!

In presenting this year’s Global Giveback Award, LINGOs CEO Eric Berg thanked all of the instructional designers and developers who volunteered their talents to the program this year.

LS14-Award

He also celebrated LINGOs tenth anniversary, and a decade of generosity from the eLearning community. “Your community has created over a million dollars of eLearning for LINGOs and our members. We actually are approaching TWO million dollars. Think about all the bake sales, and charity auctions, and girl scout cookies that would have to be sold to match that contribution,” said Berg.

The competition finalists include courses featuring simulation-based interactions, customized feedback, several scenario based courses, and animation. Two complete learning paths, Project Management and Financial Management, each designed for the NGO sector, were also created.   Volunteer teams, individuals, and private eLearning companies all contributed to the rich selection of courses that are now in the hands of NGO staff all over the globe through LINGOs members’ learning management systems and Last Mile Learning, a LINGOs initiative that strives to deliver world class learning to anyone working to reduce poverty and suffering in the world.

In addition to Global Giveback winner Samantha Yates and the Influencing Without Authority course, the following finalists are also being honored at the Learning Solutions Conference and SolutionFest.

Volunteer Finalist Course Title Agency
Kirby Crider Performance Management for NGOs and CBOs SightLife
Team of 17 Volunteers working through Dr. Katherine Cennamo at Virginia Tech University Project Management in the Development Sector (Learning Path, Seven Courses) LINGOs & Last Mile Learning
Microsoft and GP Strategies Financial Management in the Development Sector (Learning Path, Five Courses) LINGOs & Last Mile Learning
Learning Ninjas Emergency Needs Assessment Catholic Relief Services
Nigel Ribeiro Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Training FHI360 & InsideNGO

This year’s Global Giveback submissions were truly outstanding, making it very difficult to choose the finalists and winners. All of the courses developed through Global Giveback showcase exciting and innovative work. They are invaluable resources that will move individuals and organizations in the development and relief sector forward, increasing the impact of their work serving some of the world’s communities in greatest need.

Thanks again to the finalists, to Samantha Yates, and to all the volunteers who contributed to member organizations this year. We truly could not do what we do without you.

Celebrating 10 Years – Part 2

Eric Berg, LINGOs Co-Founder and CEO

EricBerg (1)2014 is LINGOs’ tenth year. In last week’s post, I reflected on LINGOs’ first decade. Beginning as a consortium with modest goals of sharing ideas and experiences, today LINGOs is a capacity building organization with more than 75 member organizations; a project services group that led the creation of a contextualized project management certification now completed by over 7000 development sector professionals; and with the 2013 launch of Last Mile Learning, LINGOs provides access to a range of learning opportunities for anyone working to improve people’s lives in the developing world.

In celebration of our first ten years, LINGOs is planning a number of events to recognize the amazing individuals, volunteers, partners, members and others that have accompanied us this far and helped LINGOs become what it is and enable us to grow from a small consortium to a capacity building organization that helps those doing good…do it better!

Celebrating Volunteers

In March, we will be acknowledging all the volunteers that helped LINGOs and its members in so many ways but in particular helped us with world class instructional design and development skills. Some of the most talented designers and developers in the world have contributed literally thousands of hours and over a million dollars’ worth of professional services. Their involvement has enabled LINGOs and its members to create eLearning content on a broad range of management, communications, technical and development-specific topics.

“… I thank you very much for the effort you make to help everybody who needs knowledge gain it freely. May God bless you all.”

Jean Pierre wrote from Rwanda, where he recently learned from volunteer-created courseware from Last Mile Learning 

The Learning Solutions 2014 Conference in Orlando in March when so many of the eLearning Guild community gather will give us a chance to celebrate the contribution of the volunteers and to share how the courses are being used and what a difference volunteers have made. We will also be acknowledging the generous support that David Holcombe and Heidi Fisk the co-founders of the eLearning Guild have given to LINGOs.

Thanking Partners

In May, at the ASTD International Conference (American Society for Training and Development) we will be honoring the second group that make LINGOs possible – the many corporate partners that have been providing world class course content, learning development tools, professional development services and state-of-the-art platforms so LINGOs members can provide services to their staff around the world that would otherwise be impossible. Some of our partners, like IntraLearn, Articulate and Blackboard have been with us since LINGOs was started. Others like Skillsoft, Net Dimensions and Yukon Learning are new this year and represent the latest expansion of corporate support.

Appreciating Members 

Later in the year at a leading development sector conference, we will be highlighting the work and contributions of our members. One of the founding principles of LINGOs was for organizations to share their learning experiences and products among each other thereby saving money and propagating best practices. We have numerous examples of member organizations that have produced outstanding courses and implemented LINGOs products and tools in innovative ways and then invested their time and resources helping other LINGOs members deploy the products and systems they created.

Finally, next November in Portland, Oregon, we will have our Tenth anniversary Member Meeting where we will both look back to celebrate where we have been and more importantly look forward to collectively imagine what LINGOs can become in the next ten years. Mercy Corps has offered to host our meeting which is fitting because it was one of the original six NGOs that attended the organizing meeting that took place in November 2004 at The Nature Conservancy. We have invited the original board members to join us to be recognized for their pioneering work and we hope to have some other surprises for everyone that come to Portland so mark your calendars now.

Saying Farewell

And of course as has been previously announced, Portland will be my final LINGOs meeting. As you can see, it will be hard to say “goodbye” to LINGOs at the end of this coming year.

  • We’ve transformed from a small community with monthly calls led by Linda English (then of Save the Children) to a vibrant community of members actively engaged in providing innovative, professional development opportunities to their organizations in ways that constantly amaze me.
  • Our project services group has run with the PMD Pro project management certification that LINGOs pioneered in 2010. The team is innovating learning approaches that fit the needs of our sector, with face to face, online and blended approaches to learning and reinforcement. Providing training to individuals and training organizations, we’re pleased that (at present) over 7000 individuals have taken the PMD Pro exam and more and more organizations incorporating the tools and techniques into their standard processes.
  • And through our Last Mile Learning program, every day more individuals throughout the globe are accessing content on basic management, financial management and project. In December, Jean Pierre in Rwanda emailed us “… I thank you very much for the effort you make to help everybody who needs knowledge gain it freely. May God bless you all.”

Celebration and Catalyst

In last week’s post, reflecting on LINGOs first decade, I noted that this anniversary celebration is also a time to look forward.  This is a time to imagine what’s possible, to leverage the accomplishments of our members, partners, volunteers, board and individual and organizational learners around the world as a catalyst; this is a moment “to dream of things that never were… and ask why not?”

LINGOs brings together vast resources of a large community of innovative private sector partners, leading global development organizations and talented and committed individuals working to change the world.We bring an entrepreneurial approach, knowledge of the learning needs, community and technology to enable change. I invite you to join us – what can we do together? why not?

LINGOs: Reflections on the First Decade and Imagining the Second

Eric Berg, LINGOs Co-Founder and CEO

EricBerg (1)Ten years! Ten years! It can’t be that long. I just filed the 501(c)3 papers a little while ago – or so it seems. But a check of the paperwork says 2005 which means 2014 will be the tenth year for LINGOs. My plan was very clear – volunteer as a staff person while Linda English from Save the Children, Mike Culligan from Catholic Relief Services, Meg Burns from Care, Mignon Mazique from Mercy Corps and Lisa Ferris from Heifer International decided what they wanted to do with the organization – maybe three years max. Then we would find a capable person from the sector to take over and lead LINGOs into the future. I could then watch from afar as the organization took off. But as they say about “best laid plans of mice and men…..” mine went astray many years ago — and how lucky for me.

Reflections and aspirations

Over the holidays I’ve had a chance to reflect on the past nine years and have enjoyed thinking about how our modest aspirations at the beginning – to share some online learning opportunities among international NGOs – has expanded into wanting “to provide world- class learning opportunities at little or no cost to anyone working to improve lives in the developing world.”

With the launch of the Last Mile Learning program this year, we have taken the first steps on that very lengthy journey. And with the launch of the new LINGOs Learning Platform (LLP) in 2014, we are taking a giant leap forward in providing a state-of-the-art, multi-function learning platform – not only for our members but also for local NGOs throughout the world.

More than a learning consortium

LINGOs now includes a community of members that are actively engaged in providing innovative, professional development opportunities to their organizations in ways that constantly amaze me.

The PMD Pro project management certification that LINGOs pioneered in 2010 is taking hold in the sector with over 7000  individuals having taken the PMD Pro exam and more and more organizations incorporating the tools and techniques into their standard processes. We are gathering data now on how professional project management has resulted in more benefits to the individuals and communities being served by PMD Pro certified project managers. Look for an article on that topic in the coming months.

And every day more individuals throughout the globe are accessing content on basic management, financial management and project management from the Last Mile Learning site.

Last week we received an email from Jean Pierre in Rwanda that read in part, “… I thank you very much for the effort you make to help everybody who needs knowledge gain it freely. May God bless you all.”

While we don’t know exactly who Jean Pierre is or how he found Last Mile Learning, we are happy that the message is getting out and look forward to telling you about tens of thousands of Jean Pierres, each of whom is improving his or her skills so communities can get more from the investments being made to improve people’s lives in the developing world.

Grateful to the members of the LINGOs’ village

There’s an oft-quoted African Adage that “it takes a village to raise a child.” In our case, a global village has helped LINGOs to become what we are today (and what we can yet become!). LINGOs would not even contemplate that audacious desire without the generous support of our village.

  • Our many corporate partners that provide world class course content, learning development tools, professional development services and state-of-the-art platforms enable LINGOs to provide tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of learning services to each of our 75+ member organizations as well as to have created the Last Mile Learning Program that provides a growing library of learning and training resources for anyone.
  • Hundreds of learning professionals have contributed their world-class instructional design and development skills, volunteering thousands of hours and over a million dollars’ worth of professional services enabling LINGOs and its members to create customized eLearning content on a broad range of management, communications, technical and development-specific topics
  • LINGOs Members have not only benefitted from the support of our partners and volunteers, but they have built on and shared these contributions so they are not just additive but contribute exponentially to the success of global development and humanitarian efforts. The ideas initially developed by one organization, tweaked and improved by another, can be continuously perfected, and scaled for global deployment at a minimal cost and maximal return for all of us who want to help make the world a better place.
  • The LINGOs Board of Directors provides the vision and guidance for LINGOs –allowing us to imagine the vision we so audaciously desire to achieve and helping us ensure we have the assets, including the village of partners, volunteers and members, to achieve it.

From not being able to spell “LMS” to contextualized content creation

We have accomplished more than I ever thought possible when we first started those monthly phone calls led by Linda English at Save the Children in 2004. From modest goals of sharing ideas and experiences to over 150,000 courses completed online — mostly by staff in the developing world. From accessing some corporate eLearning courses on Element K to creating custom content contextualized for individual NGOs and organization-specific processes. From not being able to spell “LMS” to creating custom learning platforms reaching employees around the world, we have come a long way together and we should celebrate what we have accomplished and make sure others know what we have done.

Imagine Ifs

But a Tenth Year review is also time to look ahead at what we can do together in the next ten years. Now is a time to really “dream things that never were and say ‘Why not?’” While I am very proud of where we are, I don’t believe for a minute we have scratched the surface of what we can do.

  • Imagine if all the people working in local NGOs had access to the kinds of professional development tools and experiences that LINGOs members enjoy.
  • Imagine what could happen if we could collectively figure out how to translate individual knowledge and skills into organizational impact.
  • Imagine if we could harness the entrepreneurial energy of local trainers to build a network of people who possess not only the professional skills but also content and platforms that enable them to work with local organizations to improve the impact of their work and for those local trainers to be able to make a living at it.
  • Imagine using technology in new ways so that content could come from the South and be shared across the South without filter or modifications.

These are just some of the things to think about as we look ahead. I am looking forward our Tenth Anniversary as both a celebration and a catalyst for new directions for LINGOs. I hope you will think about what LINGOs might become as you contemplate the year ahead during these first few weeks of 2014. You can be certain that all of us at LINGOs will be thinking about it along with you.

Co-Founder and CEO Eric Berg announced plans to retire from LINGOs at the end of 2014. We will celebrate both LINGOs and Eric’s many accomplishments and contributions at the tenth annual member meeting at Mercy Corps in Portland, Oregon, in November.

LINGOs seeks an entrepreneurial, dynamic leader to succeed Eric. To learn more click here.

Sneak Peak at a Global Giveback Resource for LINGOs Members

Posted by Gus Curran, LINGOs Member Services Manager

The LINGOs Member Services and Last Mile Learning teams are thrilled to give you a sneak peak of a new course “Influencing without Authority.”

As you know, ‘Influencing without authority’ is a key skill for project-workers in the field, who often have to deal with delicate situations. Professional instructional designers and developers from Unicorn Training in the UK worked with Last Mile Learning to bring this content to life, contextualizing it for our sector. Samantha Yates of Unicorn Training recently posted about her experience creating a course for LINGOs through the Global Giveback program a the Unicorn Training Blog.

Katoa

Click on the image of Katoa to access course demo

Samantha brought great creativity, interactivity and context to the scenario-driven course.  On arrival in the fictional province of Katoa, the learner is immediately immersed in the story of Maria, an aid project worker attempting to find her way through the maze of politics, conflicts and challenges associated with her development project.

Using an interactive map, the learner follows Maria through four topics, helping her to make decisions along the way so that her project can be completed successfully. You can read more about and access a sneak peak of the course via the Unicorn Training Blog.

LINGOs Members, stay tuned for an announcement of the release of this fabulous course by Sam Yates of Unicorn Training.

The Power of Volunteers

Posted by Gus Curran, LINGOs Member Services Manager

 What comes to mind when you think volunteers?

Four Hands Joined TogetherNon-profits reach out to volunteers on a regular basis for all kinds of projects and tasks, from stuffing envelopes to helping out at events to doing field work, even building houses.

What could you accomplish if you asked highly skilled learning professionals to volunteer their talents for you and your organization?

If you are Mike Culligan ,Director of LINGOs’ Last Mile Learning Program, the answer to that question is that volunteers can get incredible things done. During the last year, Mike worked with over 80 volunteers to create the Last Mile Learning portal and courses. He recently posted on the Global Giveback LinkedIn Group the following list of accomplishments, completed almost entirely by a team of volunteers.

- 1  website built
- 2 Learning paths created
- 4 Last Mile Learning curriculum guides published (self-led, face-to-face, blended synchronous, blended asynchronous)
- 7 courses translated to Spanish, French and Portuguese
- 13 face to face training packages completed
- 15 eLearning modules developed, and
- 21 additional eLearning modules currently under development

logo last mile learning smallThanks to the support of volunteers, a library of professional development courses is available, FREE OF CHARGE to anybody working to improve the lives poor communities around the world via http://www.LastMileLearning.org.

No Job is too small!

I recently reached out to volunteers on the Global Giveback Group on LinkedIn, asking them to test Last Mile Learning courses. Highly skilled learning professionals responded quickly, and I was moved and humbled by their generosity. As you can imagine, testing courses is not the most glamorous assignment, but volunteers stepped up and did the testing, offering great feedback on the courses and helping to make Last Mile learning even better. One volunteer took my basic Word document reporting forms and improved them, converting them to forms on Google Docs and setting it up so that all the feedback was aggregated and easy to review.  I hadn’t even thought of this, and a volunteer saw the need and reached out to me and offered to help.

No Job is too big!

GregDavisDid you know that volunteers help LINGOs members learn on a regular basis? Greg Davis of Precision eLearning volunteers his time and skills quarterly to lead the Virtual Training Mastery Series, a popular and engaging course which is helping staff of LINGOs member organizations to design and deliver better training online. He designed the workshop pro-bono for LINGOs, and LINGOs being LINGOs, asked him if would be willing to also deliver the workshop. He said yes. He’s lead over 500 people through this course.

PamThomasPam Thomas, owner and certified coach at What’s Within U, LLC,, is a key volunteer for LINGOs from Coaching Out of the Box®. With help from her colleagues, Pam gives several hours of her time each quarter to guide members through a two part online workshop to help them to develop their coaching skills.

Greg and Pam don’t just donate time and experience- both of these volunteers are giving members their materials, as well.

Learning professionals are willing and ready to volunteer

Learning professionals are eager to help.  They are lining up on the Global Giveback LinkedIn group, seeking NGOs whose needs and projects match their interests and skills. All you have to do is reach out to them.  Visit the Global Giveback LinkedIn Group to review posts by potential volunteers. Review the helpful handouts on the LINGOs Global Giveback site to start planning your project with your volunteer.

Optional Competition

In the past, a highlight of Global Giveback has been its element of competition. This year the competition is optional. Non-profits may enter eLearning courses into the competition (with the volunteer’s consent, of course).  A panel of judges for the competition will review courses based on a set of requirements, as in years past. However, it is not required that a project be submitted to the competition. This means that all projects should be considered as potential Global Giveback opportunities, as long as they are related to learning for nonprofit organizations working to improve people’s lives in the developing world. This includes internal courses such as orientations, or converting live workshops into blended courses or elearning.

Learn More at the Global Giveback Webinar

I encourage NGO learning staff to join us for a webinar on May 9 at 11:00AM EDT (click here to register) to learn more about how to use Global Giveback harness the power of volunteers. The webinar will also feature LINGOs members who successfully developed courses with volunteer developers in previous years of Global Giveback, and you can ask them your questions. We look forward to seeing you there.

Eventbrite - The Inside Scoop on Global Giveback 2013 for NGOs

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Read this recent post on the Global Giveback

International development NGOs – don’t miss Global Giveback 2013!

100+ eLearning courses created for international NGOs at no cost… Global Giveback 2013 is now open, get involved

gg_generic_small.jpgThrough the Global Giveback, highly skilled learning professionals volunteer their highest talent, creativity and experience to support global development non-profit organizations. In the first four Global Giveback events, volunteer instructional designers and eLearning developers have created over 100 eLearning courses for LINGOs and its 75 international NGO member agencies.

All international NGOs provide training

“International NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that provide training for their global staff or to an audience with access to the internet should get involved,” said LINGOs Executive Director, Eric Berg. The Global Giveback allows NGOs to leverage their existing content, dramatically expanding the audience to their global staff and implementing partners.  Last year alone, LINGOs worked with over 60 volunteers to create courses available not only the global staff of our 75+ international member agencies, but they will also be available free to anyone working to improve people’s lives in the developing world.

3 Reasons to get involved

  1. Expand your agency’s training reach: Many learners have access to the internet, and you can reach more via technology-enabled learning than by face-to-face training.
  2. Use limited resources wisely: save on scarce travel, trainer, and time resources associated with each and every face-to-face training event, by working with a volunteer to develop eLearning that can be used by many learners around the world.
  3. Learn new skills: Agencies participating in past Global Givebacks have learned about eLearning design and project management through working with volunteer learning professionals.

2013 Global Giveback marks the fifth time LINGOs and the eLearning Guild have organized a vehicle through which learning professionals have donated their expertise and time to create eLearning resources for the global community. In years’ past, the resource was limited to agencies that are already members of LINGOs (Learning in NGOs), a not-for-profit consortium of humanitarian relief and international development agencies. This year marks the first time that Global Giveback is open to all non-profits working in the international development sector.

NEW in the 2013 Global Giveback

  • Open to any not-for-profit organization working to improve people’s lives in the developing world
  • Includes all learning formats: eLearning, Face-to-Face, Blended Learning modalities
  • Optional eLearning competition: Non-profit agencies may enter eLearning developed by pro-bono volunteers in 2013.

Learning professionals want to make a difference in the world

Volunteering in the Global Giveback provides a unique opportunity for learning professionals to make a difference in the world. Many volunteers have already signed up in the Global Giveback group on LinkedIn and are eager to get started.

eLearning developer Amanda Warner, who participated in the first three Global Givebacks, winning twice with courses created for the public for Acción and FHI 360, notes “It’s so motivating to see the course in action,” said Warner, who estimates she spent between 180 and 210 hours developing Acción’s winning course “Build, Manage and Improve Credit” which is publically available.

“It was great to play with different ideas, and work on a totally different type of content from my day job,” she said. Warner took reams of ACCION’s existing face-to-face course materials, spread sheets, word documents, published guides and other resources and developed a proposal for an engaging, interactive simulation.

 

Your agency can get involved

It’s easy! You can get involved through the Global Giveback Group on LinkedIn or through your own network. Connect and interview those with interests, skills, timing, and approach to the work that best match your needs.

Projects can include: design and/or development of learning and training resources to be deployed in a variety of ways, including face to face, blended, and self-paced eLearning.

How to get started:

  1. Identify the course material you want to adapt into a new format of learning
  2. Join the Global Giveback Group on LinkedIn
  3. Post your request for a volunteer Be sure to include 
    • Your agency name
    • Course Topic
    • Scope of Work (describe what the volunteer will develop, for what audience, with whom the volunteer will work, the resources s/he will have to work with, ie pre-approved content, subject matter experts whom s/he can consult during the project, etc)
    • Timeline(when you will be ready to start, your target date for completion and launch of your resource)
    • That there is an Identified staff-member who will work with the volunteer
  4. Respond to all volunteers who indicate interest. Interview those whose skills match your needs, and keep others apprised of your plans so they can work with another project if your needs and timing don’t match their skills and time-frame.

Global Giveback organizers do not review or manage relationships between agencies and volunteers. Each party should research each other and interact in professionally, clearly defining success for the interaction before agreeing to collaborate.

eLearning Competition

An optional part of the Global Giveback is a competition among eLearning courses. Participation is not required, but may be motivating to some volunteers.

Not-for-profit development agencies may enter any eLearning course created on a volunteer (pro-bono) basis for any non-profit working globally to improve people’s lives in the developing world in 2013 can be entered in the eLearning Global Giveback competition.

Judges will evaluate courses submitted by non-profit global development agencies in two categories based on whether they were developed by individual developers or corporate teams, on ten criteria:

  1. Meets stated learning objectives
  2. Appearance
  3. Creativity
  4. Ease of use for the learner
  5. Interactivity
  6. Graphical content
  7. Ease of update (for the non-profit sponsor)
  8. Holds the learner’s interest
  9. Ease of working with the developer (rated by the non-profit agency)
  10. Potential impact of the course (assessed by the non-profit agency based on topic and potential audience)

Volunteer Developers and International Non Profit agencies may use the Global Giveback Group on LinkedIn as a means of finding each other. However, any international non-profit working with a non-staff volunteer on a pro-bono basis may submit courses created in 2013 for competition. Submissions must be received by 5:00PM EST on Jan 10, 2014.  Submission instructions will be posted in the second half of 2013.

Recognition & awards will be announced at the eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions 2014 conference in Orlando, FL.

Learn More: http://bit.ly/LINGOsGG

Read about past Global Giveback events

A Drum for David Holcombe

Eric Berg, LINGOs Executive Director

It is considered a good governance practice for non-profits to limit board members to two successive terms before they must cycle off the board for at least a year or more. This keeps a board from becoming stale and injects fresh ideas into the organization. However, one of the downsides to this practice is you must lose board members that you would rather still have on the board.

This past week, I had the opportunity to recognize David Holcombe, co-Founder and CEO of the eLearning Guild and retiring LINGOs Board member in front of his “Guild family” at the Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando. David is finishing his second term on the board and will be leaving the LINGOs board after our next meeting. Needless to say, I hate to see him go.

Community spirit and corporate social responsibility

It seems like only yesterday that I first met David and the Guild’s other co-founder, Heidi Fisk, at what was then called the Annual Member Gathering in Boston. I was so impressed with what they were doing to build a community among eLearning professionals that I knew I wanted David’s help with LINGOs which was simply a start-up operation at that time. David graciously agreed to help and after I “set the hook” I slowly began to reel him into more involvement with LINGOs – first as an advisor, then as a board member and ultimately as the Chairman of the Board. During that time, LINGOs grew from our first half dozen members to the over 75 international organizations that are currently members. Each year we not only expanded our membership but also the services we provided to them and to the sector at large.

David made it possible for each LINGOs member to have a premium membership in the Guild and with it access to the rich library of resources and events on technology-supported learning. I hesitate to point this out – but knowing David, I suspect he has already done the math – that benefit alone is worth over $125,000 each and every year.

The Guild has also been instrumental in supporting the Global Giveback program and since we began that effort, over 100 courses have been completed by volunteer developers. If you put even a nominal value – let’s say $5000 on each course, that is a “donation” worth over half a million dollars to LINGOs and our members.

And David has given unselfishly of his time and traveled at his own expense to LINGOs board meetings and events. In short, David has done everything reasonably or even unreasonably asked of him.

Witches+DavidH But, as I told the audience in Orlando, it hasn’t all been hard work. For example, this past fall at the DevLearn Conference in Las Vegas which happened to coincide with Halloween I snapped the picture bat left of David and the Witches of DevLearn. (I know they say “what happens in Vegas – stays in Vegas” but that is only if there isn’t photographic evidence) You might recognize the witches as Shannon of PATH, Catriona of Conservation International, Sam of Save the Children and Jenn of Ipas. I don’t think I have ever seen a larger smile on David’s face.

A Djembe Drum for David

DavidsDrumOver the years, David has assisted me with awarding djembe drums to Finalists and Winners of the Global Giveback Competition. David has always looked longingly at those drums and we even have had to pry his fingers off the drum he was awarding to participants. So we thought it would be a great way to acknowledge our gratitude for all he has done for LINGOs and presented David with a drum of his own. Alison Smith, Executive Director of InsideNGO and incoming board chairperson and Alfredo Leone joined me on stage to present David’s drum.

Alison acknowledged she had very big shoes to fill and if you aren’t aware, David is at least as tall as my six foot four inch height so she is quite right, both literally and figuratively. She also acknowledged that David’s entire team at the Guild from Heidi to all the rest of the staff made LINGOs members feel like part of the family and their support made it easier for David to be available to LINGOs.

In receiving the drum and with characteristically modesty, David praised the Guild members and Guild staff that have been so supportive and made it clear that despite leaving the board he still intends to support LINGOs and our members as he always has done and encouraged anyone interested to get involved in way that made sense for them.

We will miss David and I am personally grateful to him for his unselfish support of our members and his willingness to be available to me whenever I needed his counsel and experience. Hopefully, from time to time, David will tap on the drum LINGOs gave him and smile knowing how much he has helped enable.

What’s LINGOs got going at the Learning Solutions Conference?

LINGOs will be at Learning Solutions Conference and Expo on next week in Orlando – and has lots going on.  In addition to spending quality time with our members, partners, volunteers and several of our board members at the eLearning Guild’s always interesting event, we will be announcing the return of the competitive element to the Global Giveback and representatives from International NGOs and eLearning volunteers will join LINGOs staff members at the SolutionFest 2013.

Back by Popular Demand

ImageThe eLearning community’s high level support and volunteerism is bringing back the popular Global Giveback Competition. LINGOs Executive Director Eric Berg will announce the fifth Global Giveback at the Learning Solutions Conference General Session on March 7th.

Any course created on a volunteer (pro-bono) basis for any non-profit working globally to improve people’s lives in the developing world in 2013 can be entered in the competition.

This is bigger than past Global Giveback events in that participation is not limited only to international development non-profits that are members of LINGOs.  Stay tuned for Eric’s announcement at the Conference and future posts here on an updated Global Giveback site and in the Global Giveback group on LinkedIn.

Solution Fest 2013™

ImageRepresentatives from several of our member agencies will be participating with us in the first Solution Fest, helping us to demonstrate key learning solutions for people working in humanitarian relief, health, development, conservation and social justice.

We believe that the better they do their jobs, the more the most vulnerable people on earth will have enough to eat, have access to health care and education, have a chance at a secure livelihood and be able to live in a safe and clean environment.

The Challenge: How to make world-class learning opportunities available at no cost to anyone working to improve lives in the developing world?

 

The Solution:

Image Last Mile Learning – a LINGOs initiative using the latest instructional technologies, the collaboration of the public and private sectors and the creativity and energy of volunteer learning professionals to create and deliver world-class learning in multiple formats and multiple languages contextualized to the development sector.

LINGOs Staff and Members including Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, ACDI/VOCA, InsideNGO, Management Sciences for Health, Samaritan’s Purse and others will demonstrate explore five enabling solutions from Last Mile Learning:

1. Last Mile Learning: Multiple Delivery Modes

2. Last Mile Learning: Creating a Certification System

3. Last Mile Learning: Learning Paths for Motivation

4. Last Mile Learning: Scenario-Based Performance Management

5. Last Mile Learning: Blended Learning Nodes (HoTspots)

We look forward to seeing you there. LINGOs Volunteers and Members attending Learning Solutions are invited to contact Marian (at) LINGOs.org in advance of the meeting.

Thankful…

Guest post by Eric Berg, Co-founder and Executive Director, LINGOs

ImageI have spent a lot of time on airplanes this past year. I am about to cross the reward-rich 100K mile mark with United next week and while traveling isn’t what it used to be, one of the benefits of all that “seat time” is that it gives me lots of opportunity to stare mindlessly out of a window and let thoughts just drift through my consciousness. Inevitably, maybe just because it is “in the air” this time of year, feeling thankful floats in. Working in international development we are keenly aware of people who are challenged every day by the most basic needs of survival so it is easy to feel a need to be thankful for our comfortable circumstances. This thought quickly gives way to thoughts about what we are trying to do with LINGOs and how dependent I am on so many people.

Last Spring, I wrote about our volunteers and how important they are to LINGOs and how grateful I am for them. And perhaps with Last Mile Learning, they are more important than ever. But I realized when I was thinking about this post, that I didn’t begin to do justice to all the people I am thankful for within the LINGOs family. The earlier post did not express my thanks for the LINGOs members themselves – the agencies we owe our existence to. Without their steadfast support since we began, LINGOs would not have been able to grow into a serious force for staff development in the sector. Our member’s patience with our start-up growing pains and occasional missteps has allowed us to continue to take chances on new and better ways to serve their missions.

And I hadn’t noted how grateful I am for our partners – the many companies that have provided their products and services at little or no cost so they could be used by so many to create and deliver new learning opportunities. Those learning opportunities turned into more skills for field-based staff who translated those skills into higher impact programming for the beneficiary communities and individuals that are at the center of our work. Without our partners, LINGOs couldn’t begin to provide the services our members come to LINGOs for.

And within both our Partners and Members there are so many individuals that go above and beyond in their contributions to the larger LINGOs community. In most cases, it takes an individual or a small group of individuals to realize the potential of the LINGOs collaboration to bring the real value to their organizations and to understand the importance of supporting us. These are the individuals that become champions within their organizations to engage more people and to push their organizations to do more to support the effort and to share the work of their organizations with others in LINGOs.

Finally – and here I intend to name names – in last year’s note I neglected to express my thanks to be able to work with an extraordinary team of people. Most LINGOs members first learn about us from Marian – who wakes up each day thinking about how we can more effectively serve our members. She is supported by Ana Raquel and Lourdes who wear a number of hats supporting not only our members but also our work in Project Management and without whom questions would go unanswered and follow-up would be lacking. And of course some members believe that without Robb and Joey there would be no reason to join LINGOs. They are the lifejackets in the temperamental seas of technology.

For those members who have taken on the challenge of project management capacity building – including CRS, World Vision, Path, Plan, Mercy Corps and several others who have worked with our Project Services team – there is no LINGOs without John and Roger and Juan Manuel. They are our globe-trotting team whose families have “donated” their loved one so they could share their knowledge and experience with others in the developing world.

Even before he came to work at LINGOs, Mike was actively involved in not only creating what was to become LINGOs but was also thinking ahead of where it needed to go. He was the lead on moving our organization into the creation of the PMD Pro certification in project management and has now taken ownership of our latest initiative – to extend our platforms to local NGOs and CBOs through Last Mile Learning.

And though you might never interact with them, Martha and Tyler work in the background making sure the details of finance and technical administration get taken care of so others can serve you more directly.

This is truly an extraordinary team and I can honestly say that a day does not go by when I am not thankful for their amazing commitment to you and your missions. LINGOs is very fortunate to have attracted such a group and I hope you will add them to the “things I am thankful for” list you may be reviewing in your mind in the coming days.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thanks to learning Volunteers, Last Mile Learning helps improve the lives of world’s most vulnerable people

Posted by Eric Berg, LINGOs Executive Director

Last year, during Volunteer Appreciation Week, I wrote a post about the vital importance of volunteers to the LINGOs community, and how they are able to use their highest skills as instructional designers and developers to create distance learning courses that would not be possible without their contributions of time and creativity.

Last Mile Learning Program

Last month at the Learning Solutions Conference, I shared Last Mile Learning, an exciting initiative designed to reach hundreds of thousands of local development workers that simply couldn’t happen without the efforts of volunteers.

 

Just yesterday afternoon, I got a call from Colleen Streigel our contact at the American Refugee Committee. ARC is working with a new NGO on the Syrian border and Colleen asked if there was anything we could do to help that group get access to capacity building resources on project management and IT. This is precisely the kind of group Last Mile Learning is going to reach.

Since its founding in 2005, LINGOs has grown to reach the staffs of more than 70 international NGOs working in over 130 countries around the globe with high quality online learning opportunities. However, for every staff person working in-country for an international NGO, there are ten or twenty or more individuals working with national and local organizations that are in desperate need of professional development. They are the individuals and organizations in the “last mile,” working directly with the communities in need. The better these people do their jobs, the more people will have access to health care, food, education and a safe and secure place to live.

Over the past five years, LINGOs has built a learning management infrastructure that could enable local organizations to access world-class professional development opportunities. However, a substantial amount of the content being distributed by LINGOs today is proprietary and has been subsidized or donated by leading courseware vendors with the understanding that it be available only to the staff of LINGOs member agencies.

Contextualized, Localizable, Multiple Delivery Modes

For us to reach the Last Mile, LINGOs needs to create a curriculum that we have the rights to distribute freely: a curriculum that can be contextualized to the NGO environment and localized to the key languages of development. It also needs to be made available in multiple delivery modes so individuals and organizations without regular access to the internet can still take advantage of the content.

To hire instructional designers and developers to build such a curriculum would be extremely expensive and well beyond the capabilities of LINGOs to afford. So here is where the volunteers come in. Over the years, we’ve learned that when what we need is impossible to afford, it can become possible when we ask the right people. And in this case, the right people are volunteers. We began asking current and past participants of the Global Giveback program whether they would be interested in working on this challenge. The answer was an enthusiastic “Yes!”

Learning Professionals Step Up

We’ve always known that eLearning professionals are great short, single-assignment volunteers. However this is different. This time we are asking people to stay with the effort through at least one course revision cycle and to work in teams on a single topic with more restrictive design parameters (pre-defined templates for example). And still the answer seems to be “Yes!”

In addition to individuals, LINGOs is recruiting corporate learning departments and eLearning vendors to create some of the courses in the Last Mile Learning Library.

Cegos, a major French training company, has donated content for the 18 initial modules that will be completed by the end of this year. Several eLearning companies have stepped forward to volunteer to work on the Library as well. Several universities and corporate learning departments are in discussions about creating content for this initiative.

So Last Mile Learning is on the way. Learning opportunities will be made available to the people most in need of capacity building with the fewest resources and least access. None of this would be possible without the energy and commitment of volunteers.

As I said last year, much of what we do at LINGOs wouldn’t happen without volunteers. In an interesting twist, we sometimes see our role as the support staff who enable the volunteers to do amazing work rather than the traditional view of volunteers assisting LINGOs to do amazing work. We have learned that sometimes not being able to afford to do something makes it more likely that it will get done because we look outside ourselves to see the resources waiting to make a difference.

On behalf of all LINGOs members and staff, we want to acknowledge the volunteers that make our work possible and hope that each of them know how valuable they are to improving the lives of the most vulnerable people on earth.

Want to Volunteer for Global Giveback 2012: Last Mile Learning?

 

  Join the Global Giveback Group on LinkedIn
  Look for us in the Connection Center at ASTD’s International Conference and Exposition in Denver May 6-9.
  For more info, check out the Global Giveback 2012 webpage.