Considering an LMS for your international NGO? Some food for thought and useful tips from LINGOs Member Agencies

Posted by Marian Abernathy, LINGOs Director of Member Services & Communications

Most of the 70+ international development, humanitarian relief, social justice, and conservation NGOs that are members of LINGOs are using a Learning Management System (LMS) to distribute courses to their global staff and track their progress, all in a secure environment!

LINGOs INGO memberships include the deployment of a secure LMS, which is available, and accessible by any staff member with a web connection and an Internet browser.  One of the main advantages an LMS offers over a traditional website is its reporting capability: agencies can record their learners’ participation in courses and events and share these reports in several useful formats.

The LMS provides capability for Instructor-led synchronous and asynchronous learning as well as providing scheduling and tracking of online and live events!

As you are considering putting an LMS in place for your organization, there are a number of issues to consider. Many of these have been asked in the LINGOs Discussion Group on LinkedIn, are posted on the LINGOs Member Site (http://ngolearning.org) or have been touched upon in earlier posts here. This blog post curates many of those responses.

How much effort should we expect to set up the Portal?

There are several aspects of setting up the LMS. The technical set-up is actually the easiest, and LINGOs will establish the portal, train several of your staff on how to get it to look the way you want, and show you how to manage it (plan for 1-2.5 hours for this on-line training).

Then comes the larger start-up process of planning, branding, selecting courses and preparing a communications plan. Few agencies have personnel dedicated 100% to this effort, so it can stretch out over weeks to several months.  However, with a tight time frame and a dedicated and experienced new staff person, The Grameen Foundation, which  joined LINGOs in early October 2011 as a Level 2 Member*, was able to set up, brand and launch their portal in less than two weeks. (Discussion of this in the LINGOs group on LinkedIn).

*Level 2 Membership benefits include a brandable LMS portal and the ability to select courses for it from among the LINGOs Catalog and ability to post custom-developed courses, or purchased seats to SCORM Conformant commercially supplied courseware.

FHI 360 documented its process of planning, piloting and launching its portal in a great post on the LINGOs Blog in January 2011 (click here for the post) and in the June 2011 Virtual Coffee Break (click here for recording)

What are the Steps to Getting Started? See the summer 2011 Series of Posts by Ruth Kustoff on the LINGOs Blog:

 

Getting started: Identify Top Learner Needs and Develop a Plan

 

Selecting Courses to Meet Learner Needs

 

If you build it, will they come? Develop Communications Plan 

Please also see info below, about upcoming December 8 Virtual Coffee Break on Building Engagement and Marketing Learning Resources to Global Employees 

How much time should we plan for ongoing management of portal? The answer to this varies tremendously, depending on size of organization, set-up of the portal, and whether there had recently been an activity that increased demand for courses. In a LinkedIn Group discussion on this, members reported the time ranged from  20 minutes to an hour a day on a heavy day for Habitat for Humanity, with 2600 registered users. Other agencies spend 2-20 minutes per day responding to registration requests and inquiries from present users. With the order manager functionality in place (Level 2 Portals), processing requests for existing student accounts should take 1-2 minutes.

Where can we find additional resources?  You can find manuals, tips, tricks, recorded webinars and a wealth of resources on planning, branding, Developing, Launching courses in the IntraLearn environment on the LINGOs LMS Administrator Community Site.

Participate in two upcoming live (virtual) events: 

Join the Dec 8, 2011 LINGOs Member Virtual Coffee Break in which “Barista” Catriona Moriarty of Conservation International in an informal virtual coffee around engagement and marketing of self-paced learning resources. Conservation International (CI) launched its eCampus just about a year ago. Learn a bit about CI’s experience, share your experiences and ideas. What ideas and approaches have you used to build interest, excitement and utilization of learning resources globally in your organization? What’s worked well? What would you like to try?

LINGOs’ LMS Administrator Joey Watkins will facilitate the first LMS Administrators Q&A Session on Tuesday January 10, 2012 from 11am- noon Eastern time (same as New York). LINGOs member agency LMS Administrators are encouraged to register to attend this session. To register, visit http://lingoslmsjan2012.eventbrite.com.

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4 thoughts on “Considering an LMS for your international NGO? Some food for thought and useful tips from LINGOs Member Agencies

  1. Super helpful post, OpenSesame! Thank you! I’m looking foward to a future post about Learning Champions or Liaisons, one of the strategies mentioned, and one that several of our members employ with great success.
    -Marian

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