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Speed Dating and More at the InsideNGO 2013 Conference

We are at the InsideNGO annual conference this week – learning and sharing with almost 1000 professionals from international NGOs. We had a great time with colleagues from FHI360, Catholic Relief Services and PATH at today’s “Speed Dating for Organizational Learning.”

LINGOs' Gus Curran leads a speed date on Espresso Shot Learning

LINGOs’ Gus Curran leads a speed date on Espresso Shot Learning

We adapted from one of the most popular sessions at last year’s LINGOs Member Meeting for the InsideNGO audience. Each participant at the session had a chance to go on four organizational learning dates. Each “date” was carefully screened for compatibility: All were from the international development/humanitarian relief sector; all were not-for-profits; all shared common constraints and goals: to strengthen their greatest asset – through professional development and organizational learning.

Many of the speed dates are already among the Espresso Shots of Learning mentioned in our previous post, and others are coming soon! Many thanks to Kelli Tubman of Catholic Relief Services, Amanda Zehnder of PATH and Paige Layno Winn of FHI360 for sharing your learning approaches, and to all participants for some great discussion, observations, and ideas.

We’re ready for more great sessions tomorrow at #INGO2013, including a couple we’re leading. We look forward to seeing InsideNGO members at “Better planning for virtual classroom training” and a “Lunch and Learn session “LINGOs: a resource for all NGOs.”  We’ll share info and resources on several resources available to those working in learning and development for INGOs:

  • the LINGOs Group on LinkedIn a community of practice for over 1000 learning professionals who share  and discuss approaches, challenges and successes in the development and relief sectors,
  • Global Giveback through which learning professionals volunteer their highest skills with non-profits working to improve people’s lives in the developing world, as well as our new program,
  • Last Mile Learning  - which provides world-class learning opportunities at no cost to anyone working to improve lives in the developing world. Development professionals with better skills deliver better quality services and produce better results for beneficiary communities.  We encourage folks to register and start learning,
  • LINGOs Membership for not-for-profit international NGOs that seek to join the community, share innovative learning approaches, access to learning tools, shared content, project services capacity building  and opportunities to work with volunteer learning professionals.

We look forward to meeting you here in DC.

Espresso Shots Explained

Posted by Gus Curran, LINGOs Manager of Member Services

 EspressoShotLearningIt’s mid-afternoon. You’re feeling tired and could use a break, but you have so much work to do. Maybe you’re thinking of heading down to the local coffee shop to get a quick blast of caffeine? I have a better idea.

Don’t pay big bucks for the double latte; check out LINGOS Espresso Shots instead!

LINGOs Espresso Shots are short tutorials created by LINGOs Members, for LINGOs Members. The idea for Espresso Shots evolved from the LINGOs 2012 Member Meeting and the “virtual coffee breaks” our members have enjoyed.

At the LINGOs 2012 member meeting, several members organized a “LINGOs Speed Dating” session. Representatives from each organization had a table, materials, and six minutes to describe a project they were proud of. The rest of the conference participants moved from table to table, picking up great ideas from the energetic and slightly stressed presenters.

Espresso Shots also spun off from LINGOs Virtual Coffee Breaks, hour long webinars where members go more into depth on what they are working on. Espresso Shots are the short, high caffeinated version, unfolding in less than five minutes, instead of an hour.

Staff from FHI360, Conservation International, and Samaritan’s Purse have created and shared Espresso Shots on the LinkedIn LINGOs community. New Espresso Shots are posted there as they are created, and you can find a list of all the Espresso Shots on the LINGOs member site,

Info for “baristas”

Creating an Espresso Shot is both exciting and challenging. We encourage members to use Jing, a simple and free screen capture software. Jing was created to foster and enhance online conversations. It allows you to create videos of what you see on your computer screen, and then share them instantly!

What makes this exciting, and emulates the member meeting speed dating session, is that Jing tutorials have a five minute time limit. This means you need to present your idea in just five short minutes! The challenge of trying to explain what might be a complicated idea or program in this short amount of time is almost like being on the old TV show Beat the Clock!

Take a look at the Espresso Shots we have so far and please consider contributing to the collection. You can email me (Gus (at) LINGOs.org) and I’ll help you get started.  LINGOs members have so many great ideas to share, and we think the espresso shots are a great way to do it.

Espresso shots: the initial menu

Conservation International: New Employee Orientation- Catriona Moriarty presents on CI’s new employee orientation process.

FHI360: Creating Learning Across Sectors and Geographies- Paige Winn shares three strategies FHI360 has implemented to overcome some of the challenges of providing diverse learning opportunities on a limited budget.

Samaritan’s Purse: Simple Online Certificate Tracks- Rich Peavy shares how a simple online course certificate program increased Samaritan’s Purse staff participation significantly

LINGOs: Espresso Shots Explained- Yours truly explains what an Espresso Shot is and how you can create your own to share.

If you’ll be at the InsideNGO 2013 Annual Conference next week, stop by the “Speed Date for Organizational Learning” (session 202A) and learn more about Espresso Shots, and get a sneak preview of some member sessions from PATH, Catholic Relief Services and FHI360 that may be future espresso shots!

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.

MOOC-tip-plication: Application of a tip from a MOOC for Global Staff

Marian Abernathy, LINGOs Director of Membership & Communications

WiFi Cow gives a MOOC Tip From the 2012 Cow Parade in Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh, NC, USA

I recently took part in my second Massive Open Online Course (or MOOC).  And, while a few of my candid colleagues and family may have thought it too basic for me… I got a lot out of “A Beginner’s Guide to Irrationality,” offered by Duke University Professor Dan Ariely. This Coursera MOOC put a lot of the behavioral economic theory it covered into practice, and I’ll share couple of  relevant tips here.

Among the approaches with potential for those of us managing organizational learning programs, corporate universities or LMSes can use is the introductory quiz. As part of the initial set-up (after registering for the free course), there was an introductory “quiz” or survey. The teaching team noted that in all likelihood, the cohort of learners would be similar to most MOOC participants and not complete the full course (see “Not Staying the Course” about low completion rates). They asked participants a few questions to help learners take responsibility for our own learning and to encourage us to be realistic:

“What do you plan to for this course (check all that apply):

[ ] Watch/attend the lectures

[ ] Engage in discussion board forums

[ ] Read all the reading material

[ ] Take quizzes on lectures/reading

[ ] Peruse extra material

[ ]  Complete the written assignment(s)

[ ]  Grade/comment on other people’s submissions

[ ] Take the final learning assessment (exam/certification)

[ ] Other_________

This list gave learners an idea of what was coming and a grounding in what it would take to earn a statement of completion. And the next question prepared us for how to be successful learners, even if we didn’t complete the course. I liken this to how to continue to keep myself on track toward a new year’s resolution when I miss an early milestone.

“If you don’t have time to do all the things you checked above, which item will you sacrifice first?

  • Watch/attend the lectures
  • Engage in discussion board forums
  • Read all the reading material
  • Take quizzes on lectures/reading
  • Peruse extra material
  • Complete the written assignment(s)
  • Grade/comment on other people’s submissions
  • Take the final learning assessment (exam/certification)
  • Other

As this was a course on behavioral theory, the instructors applied some of their own content and offered some ideas that could help learners who chose to be helped!

What best describes how you plan to encourage your own participation in this course
  do not plan to do plan to do already done not sure
Block of time for this course in your calendar
Tell others you are taking the course
Take the course with others (ie study groups)
Reward yourself for staying on track
Set consequences for not staying on track
Other

This chart contains many tips for adult learners, particularly those of us who are not professional learners to put in place. Offering your learners something as simple as this type of chart may help them build the supportive scaffolding they need to complete the course work.

More importantly, what does the learner hope to achieve, accomplish or apply (do better/differently as a result of the learning)?  One very simple approach is used by LINGOs member organization Islamic Relief Worldwide.    The Islamic Relief Learning & Development team provides their learners with a very simple Learning Log through which staff identify what they did, why, what they learned from it and how they will apply it.

Defining the what and the why at the start of a formal learning venture can support the application of learning.  At LINGOs, we believe that development professionals with better skills deliver better quality services and produce better results for beneficiary communities. We continue to explore various approaches to support the application of learning.

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.

5 reasons blended learning on project management is going viral at Rainforest Alliance

What would it take to get your organization abuzz about learning?

RA-logoThe Rainforest Alliance’s Patti Lukas found that blended learning was a key to scoring a low-cost, quick win in learning new skills and bringing in a new approach to project management. Rainforest Alliance (RA) worked with LINGOs to introduce a new approach to project management. Shortly after starting with RA in November, Patti got in touch with LINGOs and learned about the blended courses on project management, which appeared to meet an immediate need at RA. She and LINGOs Director of Project Services John Cropper used a capacity assessment tool to as a way to understand organizational strengths and weaknesses in project management and explored options to bring capacity building in project management to RA on a global scale.

In addition to providing training resources in project management, the LINGOs Project Services work is an active learning laboratory, testing innovative learning approaches with NGOs working in international development and humanitarian relief.  As we’ve noted in past posts, blended gets learning to where the learners are and provides some quick wins for an international NGO with a diverse globally dispersed workforce and limited resources.

Having identified an organizational need to strengthen skills and build a unified approach to project management, Rainforest Alliance  contracted with LINGOs to run four-week blended learning courses (one in English and one in Spanish) for 79 of their project managers around the world. Similar to the Open Course starting this week, participants in the dedicated Rainforest Alliance 4-week blended learning courses spent about six to eight hours per week on learning: two 90 minute virtual classroom events per week and about 3 hours in self-paced eLearning and individual assignments, as well as participating in asynchronous discussions in the course’s community platform.

As more RA staff heard about the blended learning that had gotten underway, another 18 signed up for open courses that LINGOs was running in English and Spanish in March and more registered for the May course getting underway this week (For more info, see: http://may2013-4weekpmdpro.eventbrite.com)   RA is preparing to offer another round of dedicated RA blended learning course in July.

Five reasons that blended learning goes viral

1. Knowledge gain is equal or greater than face to face

Because the project management training is linked to a standardized exam of knowledge, the PMD Pro 1 exam, it’s relatively easy to evaluate knowledge gain from different learning approaches and to determine differences in the pass-rate across different learning modalities. Our learning laboratory results show that blended results are comparable to or better than face to face training with regards to PMDPro results. Among the 79 Rainforest Alliance staff from the two blended courses, only 2 did not pass the PMD Pro exam on first attempt. When LINGOs ran a pilot with Oxfam in East Africa last year, blended pass rates were 100% as opposed to 75% in F2F trainings (See this post for more information). Blended approaches give people more time to absorb and internalize content and they can do the exam when they are ready. This finding is consistent with a recent New York Times article on MOOCs.

2. Lower costs allows learning to scale

 RA-blog discussion1In these days of budget cuts and “doing more with less,” Rainforest Alliance contracted with LINGOs for two, month-long blended courses, one in English and one in Spanish, for the approximate cost of three week-long work trips from New York to Africa.   Had the trips been face to face, there would likely have been several international trips by some of the 79 RA participants and trainers. In addition, RA avoided the “hidden” opportunity costs of face-to-face training (when participants attend an all-day or all-week event, other works slows significantly if does not come to a complete stop). In addition, as the blended learning course took place over a month, RA staff could work as they learned, and had the opportunity to apply their new learning and come back to the facilitator and group with questions and comments. The discussion forum was so successful that RA is creating a similar one internally to continue and grow such cross-cutting conversations.

3. Learning where the Learner Is means greater diversity among participants

For learners, the ability to participate in a course from where you are, rather than traveling to it, enables greater diversity of participation. In the case of the RA English-language course, similar to what we found with Oxfam in Africa [http://lingos.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/pm-training-_women/], 63% of the 40 participants were women. Staff from seven countries participated: Mexico, Guatemala, Ghana, Canada, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom and the US; and those from the US were from multiple locations in six states. Given the travel costs, would this group ever have been able to learn together in traditional face to face training?

4.  Expanded participation leads to greater adoption of learning

Through the blended learning platform, participants were actually sharing examples of their own project management work and making connections with colleagues in other locations. The strongly positive responses from project management course participants on three continents have caught the attention of senior management.  The relatively large group from so many locations now able to “speak the same language” in terms of project management, has led RA’s executive team to plan a Project Management Office (PMO). RA is eager to have global teams using common tools and approaches for project management and the ability to roll out this new initiative both quickly and cost-efficiently are huge wins for the organization.  Initial plans include appointing a lead for the PMO, building an internal governing committee that will ensure the right tools are used for the specific project types. RA is also determining how to include reporting as part of the practice so that the organization can better understand how money is spent and improve and streamline internal processes.

5. Blended learning is greener…

For an NGO dedicated to conservation and sustainable livelihoods, adopting learning and training approaches that don’t require carbon generating travel (not to mention the costs and time associated with travel), blended learning is a no brainer!

Quick win!

Effective learning for a diverse global audience with lower costs than standard approaches, leading to rapid and expanded adoption AND an approach aligned with a green mission… blended learning on project management was a very quick win for Rainforest Alliance and for Patti, who started with the organization less than six months ago!  Stay tuned for an update in about a year to learn about the impact on project management that has come about from this first round of blended learning at Rainforest Alliance!

 Want to get involved?

An English language 4-week blended learning course on PMD Pro is starting this week:
Eventbrite - LINGOs 4-week Project Management for Development (PMD Pro1) Course / May 7 – 30, 2013

A Spanish Language 4-week course starts June 3
Eventbrite - LINGOs – Curso de 4 Semanas en  Gestión de Proyectos (PMD Pro1) – Del 3 al 28 de junio de 2013

Stay tuned for Portuguese!

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

gg_generic_small.jpg

Read this recent post on the Global Giveback


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