Social Learning: A Case Study from Syria

Mike Culligan

By Mike Culligan, Director of Last Mile Learning

In his book The Future of Work, Jacob Morgan observes that “the traditional way to learn and teach was largely guided and dictated by organizations who set out training programs, manuals, and set courses. Technology has connected employees and information together anywhere, anytime, and on any device. This means that learning and teaching can happen between employees without official corporate training programs or manuals. Have a question? Tap into the collective intelligence of your company.”

Morgan’s observations underscore a fundamental shift in the way organizations interpret the concept of “workplace learning.” Nowhere is this shift more apparent than in the work that LINGOs is doing with its partners in the Last Mile Learning initiative. In Syria, for example, we are working with the Syrian NGO Forum to set up a learning platform that supports the staff of over 90 NGOs (local and international) responding to the crisis in that country.  While the platform will serve as a channel to distribute a collection of Arabic-language eCourses, the NGO Forum is equally excited about using the platform’s front-end to establish a system of social/networked learning that helps emergency responders to connect and share knowledge via groups, discussion threads, blogs, wikis and  document repositories.  The Syria context is especially challenging for learning because relief workers  are located in three countries, do not have free passage between the areas in which they work, and often are unable to attend coordination meetings and trainings.  To remedy these constraints, the platform will provide users access to “just in time learning”, but will also provide the “just in time information” that is critical to supporting the people they serve.

Jane Hart recently reviewed Morgan’s book in her excellent Learning in the Social Marketplace blog and concluded by asking ‘How is your organization supporting the ‘learning worker”?’  LINGOs’ work in Syria provides a window into the new opportunities organizations have to promote both formal learning and social/networked learning through the new LINGOs learning platform.

Interested in learning more? Join Mike for a one-hour webinar on Thursday, May 14 as he shares 7 lessons from the social platform launch in Syria. Details and registration here.

eLearning Guild Benefits

Ben K.

Learning Solutions conference experience and other eLearning Guild benefits
B
y Ben Kocarnik, Online Learning Coordinator, Mercy Corps

Being a member of the LINGOs community has a variety of benefits. One benefit that I find increasingly useful is our premium membership with the eLearning Guild. This premium membership includes a free entrance to one of their five major conferences each year. For the first time, I was able to take advantage of this benefit and I highly recommend it.

Last week, I attended the Learning Solutions and Ecosystem conference in Orlando, Florida, USA. This conference provided an opportunity to discover new technologies impacting the learning field, experience new ways to design and deliver content, and engage with peers in the learning field.

It was amazing how much knowledge could be packed into two and a half days! Some of my favorite sessions included tips and shortcuts for Articulate Storyline 2; ways to combine Agile, Lean, and User-Centered Design in selecting an LMS; a forum around developing communities; and how brain science can impact the learner’s retention of training (see attached handouts from some of these presentations).

I even leveraged our one free pre-conference certificate a year for premium members to learn more about “Building business skills to empower the training function.” This certificate provided useful insight on how to achieve internal buy-in for training, especially from your business leaders.

On top of these learning opportunities, the community at the conference proved to be quite vibrant. It was a great opportunity to meet and discuss online learning experiences with others. I found many of my conversations helped validate some of the work I am doing, while also providing me with other ideas to try.

The LINGOs community had a great showing as well, holding down a prominent booth in the main hall and attracting lots of attention with their bracelets from Guatemala. I must say grabbing dinner with several LINGOs members in Downtown Disney was definitely a good time and highly recommended!

Beyond the conference itself, having a premium membership also allows access to all the content on the eLearning Guild website. This includes articles, white papers, research, and forums on everything related to learning.  Their website makes it easy to filter by sources and/or topics to find what you need. I have found their white papers and eBooks particularly helpful in my work at Mercy Corps.

All in all, I am extremely grateful to be a premium member of the eLearning Guild and attend such an outstanding conference.  As a bit of a newcomer to the field of online learning, this membership has been valuable for me to quickly get up to speed, as well as see where the online learning field is heading. If you haven’t already, I definitely encourage you to start leveraging your premium eLearning Guild membership–both the online content and the in-person conferences. I believe it will truly help you in making a difference in where you work!

The top 3 things the LINGOs community wanted the new CEO to know

Guest Post by LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx

Chris_Proulx

LINGOs members consistently want more community and networking opportunities. That is the most common message that I have heard from members of the LINGOs community during my first three months as CEO. Through a variety of formal and informal listening events with LINGOs members, I have heard a lot of what you value about LINGOs and also what you aspire it to become.  Now, I am able to summarize some of the key themes that have come from feedback exercises at the Portland Annual Meeting and the London Members Meetup, the 2015 Membership Renewal Survey and individual conversations with many of you.

Community and Networking

By far, the most valued component of your membership is your ability to network and share best practices with each other. So, naturally you want even more value from the community. First and foremost, you’d like additional opportunities to meet in-person, not just virtually, and not just at the LINGOs Annual Meeting. (Shameless plug: this year’s Annual Meeting is being hosted by Heifer in Little Rock, AR, USA on October 15 and 16—and, attendance for one participant is included in your 2015 dues!) You want smaller sessions where we can have more focused dialogue and more opportunities to build local relationships.

So, we are going to facilitate more regional LINGOs events in 2015:

  • London: I facilitated a UK/Europe members meeting at Plan on Jan 14—about 15 folks attended, networked and heard from Speexx, our new language learning partner.
  • Boston: a self-organized member meetup at HREA on Feb 5 with ideas and feedback sent to LINGOs staff.
  • Nairobi: I am organizing a LINGOs member meetup for members and key contacts in the region on Feb 24. There’s still time to sign up!
  • Orlando: Gus Curran and I will be meeting with members attending the Ecosystem and Learning Solutions  conference Mar 25-27.
  • More on the way: we are looking to host a DC area meeting and perhaps a Bangkok/SE Asia meeting and very likely will do another London meeting later in the year. If you want to host something in your area, let me know.

In addition, you are also interested in improving how we develop and share best practice deliverables around topics of interest. So, you want to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk. This is on our radar screen, and we have a couple of interested members willing to take the lead on a couple of topics. Stay tuned for more details.

Reach, Reach, Reach

I have also heard a lot about reaching your field staff, including more support for occasionally connected users, mobile content, and content in more languages.  As you all know, there are a number of complex and inter-related issues, but we share your commitment to deliver learning to the last mile. To start, thanks to the financial support of two members, Goal and Relief International, the LINGOs Last Mile Learning online courses for PMDPro, as well as the PMDPro guide, will be available in Arabic later this spring to complement their availability in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Please reach out me and/or connect us with your country and regional staff to we can continue extend the reach of our PMDPro expertise to where you are working.

In addition, the new LINGOs Learning Platform will be mobile-ready, so that will be a big step forward, especially for mobile-ready courses that you are developing. However, many of our commercial content providers are not yet providing us with mobile-ready courses. So, we will need to work with our content providers to help prioritize this need.  Our Last Mile Learning courses provide us with more flexibility but there is also work to be done. If your organization is interested in supporting our effort to develop and deploy these modules in a mobile format, please let me know.

Ensuring that we reach the field with appropriate, accessible, and affordable learning is a value that is shared by the LINGOs team. Let’s continue the dialogue to help us prioritize the most important courses and benefits, and where needed, to identify the financial support to make it happen. LINGOs has a long history of deploying new solutions thanks to the shared financial support of several of its members that helps us to leverage the engagement of private sector partners.

Onboarding and Curation

The third big theme was how LINGOs could do a better job in making new member start-up more of a turnkey process and how, for all members, we could do a better job packaging and curating the benefits and courses. LINGOs has become a victim of its own success; there are so many benefits available, that it has become difficult to manage. As the newest member of the LINGOs team—I agree; it has been difficult for me to get my head around it, so I can appreciate your needs.

Tacking this is a big challenge, but I would like to highlight two items in the works. First, based on our lessons from the LLP training, all new LINGOs members will now be on-boarded to LINGOs in quarterly cohorts. This will provide two benefits: a more focused opportunity to work with others on how to best deploy LINGOs internally and an immediate community for new members upon joining for broader best practice sharing.

Second, we will be co-hosting a webinar on April 16 with David Kelly from the E-Learning Guild on the topic of Curation that will be followed by an in-depth workshop at the Annual Meeting in Little Rock in October. Let’s use this to jump start our collective efforts to curate the best of LINGOs and provide all of us in the community with new tools and techniques to help our organizations and learners be more effective and more focused in their professional development.

So, these are the big three topics. I also heard plenty more about blended learning, social learning, technical course content, management and leadership development, monitoring and evaluation, employee onboarding, online communities, LINGOs working groups, and more.  The team and I have ideas and potential projects around many of these topics as well and we will share more on some of these topics later in the year.

In closing, it has been exciting for me to discover this robust, generous, and committed community at LINGOs and one that I look forward to working with on a number of initiatives where we can clearly be “better together.” Thanks for your hospitality in welcoming me to LINGOs. I hope to see each of you in the coming months.

LINGOs Community meets up via 2015 meet ups

Posted by Marian Abernathy, LINGOs Membership Director

communityLINGOs is all about community and collaboration to ensure that individuals and organizations within the development, humanitarian and sustainability sectors have the right learning in the right place at the right time.

Our membership community, now about 80 international non-governmental organizations, strongly values the community and opportunity to support one another, gain ideas and share approaches amongst each other.

We’re focusing efforts to strengthen community with a series of LINGOs Meet Ups. Two have taken place so far: On January  1,  UK and Europe-based members met at Plan’s London Offices with CEO Chris Proulx and representatives from our partners ThinkBuzan and Speexx. In early February,  Boston area members met at HREA on a (the) day no snow was actively falling.

Upcoming events

February 24 – Nairobi based members are meeting at Action Aid. If your organization has a Learning Champion based in Nairobi, or you have Learning and Development staff there, please contact me (Marian(at)LINGOs.org) for more information. Space is limited, but we very much want to build and support our Nairobi-based learning community.

In March, LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx and Member Services Manager will be at the eLearning Guild’s Learning and Performance Ecosystem Conference in Orlando and are hosting a LINGOs Meet Up at a March 25 morning Buzz Session. We welcome LINGOs community members at the conference to join them there!

Stay tuned for upcoming LINGOs Meet Ups… or contact LINGOs if you’d like to host a member meet up.

Need fresh ideas for your eLearning? Check out Chop Shop Redux!

The LINGOs tenth anniversary member meeting was packed with many sessions and we’re excited that several presenters have offered to adapt and host their sessions as virtual classroom sessions.

You can get a sense of the fun and inspiration shared with participants at the workshop ” “Chop Shop: Stealing ideas, breaking them up and re-purposing them,” got some great ideas and sources of inspiration for developing eLearning” from co-leader Brian Washburn’s promo for the November session. Click on the image below to launch a short YouTube video, then read on for how you can participate in the Chop Shop Redux session on February 4th.

chopshop image

LINGOs Members Brian Washburn of SightLife and Shannon Cavallari of PATH will share an online version of their fabulous LINGOs 2014 Session “Chop Shop Redux.” In this  online LINGOs Community Session they’ll provide participants with fresh ideas on how to develop engaging eLearning and new places to find creative inspiration.

Eventbrite - Chop Shop Redux: Fresh ideas and sources of creative inspiration for engaging eLearning

By the end of this one hour virtual training session, participants will be able to…

  1. List potential sources of inspiration
  2. Re-purpose concepts from existing material to fit their organization’s learning needs
  3. Identify others in the LINGOs community who can serve as a “sounding board” when coming up with new ideas

Register Now so you don’t miss this opportunity to learn with Brian and Shannon, two of LINGOs Rock Star Members.

BrianWashburnBrian Washburn, Global Training and Development Manager at SightLife. Brian writes the Train Like a Champion Blog. A Learning and Development professional with 14+ years of experience, he was named one of Training magazine’s 2011 Top Young Trainers.

 

 

Shannon_Cavallari

Shannon Cavallari, Organizational eLearning Development and Delivery Manager at PATH. Shannon’s  enthusiasm for learning and taking on new challenges is infectious. With over eight years of experience creating and managing training processes and practices, she’s consistently brought ideas and engagement to the LINGOs community.

Eventbrite - Chop Shop Redux: Fresh ideas and sources of creative inspiration for engaging eLearning

 

If you missed it, you can catch LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx’s online version of his Member Meeting session “What  Lessons from eCornell for the LINGOs community…Redux” by clicking on this link.

 

Congratulations and Thanks to LINGOs 2014 Members of the Year!

Awards-webLast week, LINGOs celebrated a very special occasion. Not only did we host our largest member meeting at Mercy Corps in Portland, Oregon, with participants coming from almost every inhabited continent, but we celebrated our first ten years and our founder Eric Berg.

At our celebration event  we recognized two LINGOS community members that have consistently contributed in ways large and small to make the LINGOs membership community what it is.

LINGOs members range from small with about 20 staff members to very large – with 40,000 global staff members. We recognized two members from across our size spectrum for their consistent contributions over the years, and this year in particular.

Member of the Year – Smaller NGO
There is a small microfinance non-profit based in Charlestown, MA. When I say “small” I’m referring to staff size and budget — but is outsized in vision and strategy. Since joining in 2006, Accion has actively participated in the LINGOs membership community. Accion has always sent someone to the LINGOs meeting – listening, engaging, participating and sharing ideas, approaches and best practices.

Accion has modeled strategic use of learning resources made available through its membership in LINGOs – from creating and sharing early eLearning courses on project management to inspiring top notch eLearning developer Amanda Warner to contribute valuable creativity and design in the early Global Giveback years through the creation of courses that are shared with the entire community (click here for an overview of the 2011 Global Giveback); modeling use of multiple low-cost learning technologies in its learning circles program, serving on planning and advisory committees, to sharing its mentoring program strategy in LINGOs 2014 “Learning at Work Week” webinars. Please join us in congratulating Accion as a LINGOs 2014 Member of the Year.

Member of the Year – Larger NGO
A founding member of LINGOs, The Nature Conservancy has supported the community – hosting meetings small and large, contributing leadership and vision to committees and to our board of directors.

The Nature Conservancy has pushed LINGOs to think bigger and farther ahead to meet the needs and maintain engagement of our larger members with greater sophistication in learning and technology. Those at the recent Member Benefit Spotlight on Articulate rapid eLearning development tools, and at the LLP training workshop last week saw that level of expertise!

TNC has consistently provided behind the scenes support – financially seeded contribution so we were able to make a purchase of licenses for language training several years ago. When we asked members to contribute for translation this year – maybe $500 each, TNC asked “how much do you need?” When LINGOs’ Last Mile Learning Financial Management Path becomes available in a few weeks in French, please say “Merci” to The Nature Conservancy.

And, even though they “stole” our first paid staff person, we are enormously grateful to TNC for sharing its initial very positive experience, their expertise, strategy, lessons learned with deploying NetDimensions. So while they are quiet and don’t toot their own learning horn, we want to recognize The Nature Conservancy as a Member of the Year.

Stay tuned for another post in which we recognized individuals for their contributions over our first decade.

First Day Message from LINGOs new CEO Chris Proulx

Chris_Proulx

Dear LINGOs community,

Today is my first day as the new CEO of LINGOs. I am honored to have been selected to follow in the footsteps of LINGOs co-founder and CEO for the past ten years, Eric Berg. I appreciated the opportunities over the summer where a number of you discussed your work with me, and shared your hopes and aspirations for LINGOs moving forward to help jump start my learning and on-boarding process. I have also benefited from significant interaction with Eric and the rest of the LINGOs team to help prepare me for this day.

During that time, I heard from many of you about your goals of expanding access to more in-country staff, the challenges of limited resources for learning and development, and the need to always be advocating and raising the awareness of the benefits of effective learning inside your organizations, and in the sector. I believe there will be many opportunities for LINGOs to help members address those challenges by continuing to enhance and improve the services and tools available from our private sector partners. It is also critically important that we continue to expand the contextually relevant programs that we co-create with the sector like PMDPro which has had broad reach in just a few short years. Such a program underscores that a significant component of LINGOs’ value is derived from our structure as a consortium. So, I look forward to engaging you as a group in the year ahead in ways that we can act together to continue making progress in ensuring that all staff have access to the tools, content, and professional community that will enable them to develop the skills to be more effective in their jobs and in their own context.

I am ready to roll-up my sleeves and work along side you and the LINGOs team to continue the spirit of service and innovation that has made LINGOs a success. I welcome your ideas and input through the LINGOs LinkedIN group and at chris@lingos.org. If you have not already connected with me on LinkedIN, please also send me an invite. I am looking forward to our annual member meeting in Portland in November where we can have continued and extended dialogue about how, together, we can continue to expand upon our collective success in providing accessible, relevant, and effective learning opportunities for international development, humanitarian, and conservation professionals.

P.S. For those of our UK and European members who are not able to make the trip to Portland, I hope to be in London in January and look forward to arranging a session with many of you then.

——————————
Chris Proulx
President and CEO

LINGOs

chris@lingos.org
+1 607-279-2236
Skype: chris.proulx01