As we transition into 2017, it feels like our collective work to improve the lives of vulnerable people could not be more critical as we live in an increasingly complex and volatile world. At LINGOs, we see our part is to help you meet the challenges you face by empowering you to empower others. In 2016, we welcomed more new members to our community than any year except 2011, demonstrating the need and desire to work together around shared challenges. And more proof—the number of people accessing courses and other resources doubled over 2016 which means that more training is being delivered than ever before. We also reached new audiences with innovative products that are available in an increasing number of languages, including Arabic, and increasingly in mobile and low-bandwidth formats. For our learning community, it really was a year of reaching out and making an impact across the world.
How can we build on that together in 2017?
1.Set BIG goals and targets. It is always exciting to see our membership grow at but it is even more encouraging to see courses being completed and more people logging in to access our resources. 2016 saw a ten percent increase in membership and more importantly a twofold increase in the number of active learners! From across Europe to Latin America and South Africa, NGOs are using learning to provide better support to vulnerable communities. Many of our newer members are working directly in the fields of advocacy, social action and empowerment through entrepreneurial programmes. We’ve also seen a rise in membership from agencies that specialize in medical and humanitarian relief, including support for refugees.
As many NGOs know, funding is now increasingly difficult to access which means you have to make limited resources go further by building the capacity of staff to deliver critical programmes more effectively. With over 900 courses on offer, a host of ways to tailor learning to your learners’ needs and great support from the LINGOs community, members are really seeing the benefits of learning the LINGOs way. NGO workers in countries including Syria, Sudan, Ethiopia and the Philippines have been really active in learning this year and with more courses being translated into Arabic, the world of learning is opening up to a whole new audience.
What is your plan for increasing the reach of learning in 2017? Share your objectives with us so we can work together.
2.Harness the power of your network. With the rise in membership and learner engagement, we are supporting more member-to-member interaction to encourage NGOs to share their experiences and learn from each other. We’re also building new resources every month in response to our members’ needs, such as the Marketing Toolkit , and constantly seeking innovative ways of overcoming any barriers to learning.
Got a big challenge this year? Let us know so we can connect you with peers who are working on the same issues.
3.Manage more projects, more effectively, in more places. In 2016, we made our flagship project management resource, PMD Pro, more accessible through two exciting developments. Firstly, together with PM4NGOs, Plan, and the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, we launched PMD Pro Starter, a fantastic mobile-first website that gives everyone access to free resources including videos, templates and training materials on the fifteen most commonly used project management tools—on any device.
Secondly, we offered a new way of accessing structured online courses that captures the imagination in the same way as playing computer games. PMD Pro Flex is a self-paced, mobile and social way of learning that feels like a virtual classroom but is designed for scale. Active learners earn points that show up on a leaderboard and receive individualized support and encouragement along the way. Since the products went live in September 2016, PMD Pro Starter has been used by NGOs that have never previously accessed e-learning while PMD Pro Flex is already being utilized in over 40 countries. With over 18,000 people certified in PMD Pro and adoption by many global NGOs, it is becoming the de-facto standard for project management in our sector.
Accountability and value for money will continue to be critical keys to NGOs success. What is your approach to managing projects and can PMD Pro and the abundance of free resources help you and your organization get to the next level?
4.Be there. In Person. At the Global Learning Forum (GLF), an annual gathering of learning professionals in the NGO sector, we exchanged some exciting ideas about how to plan our learning initiatives in changing times. The 2016 event, held in Seattle at the offices of PATH, brought together 130 delegates who collectively provide learning to over 500,000 people. The success of this GLF was seen in the many new attendees who made up the majority of participants. With an underlying theme around our role as change-makers, we discussed how to lead the way in promoting learning as a way of transforming organizations for the better. One of the highlights of the event was a keynote speech by Julian Stodd of Sea Salt Learning who argued that organizations need to combine formal learning with informal learning in the thriving Social Age. This and many other enlightening talks, member-led sessions, lunchtime discussion tables and corridor conversations meant participants felt they were part of a growing, inspiring community. It came as no surprise that at the end of the event, over 90 percent of attendees said they would recommend the GLF to others and particularly valued it as a networking opportunity.
Save the date! Attend the 2017 Global Learning Forum, July 18-21 in Washington, DC, hosted by InsideNGO. Watch for registration details in the coming weeks. Plus… regional meetups throughout the year.
5.Democratize Learning. If 2016 was a year of increasing reach, we hope that 2017 will be a year for us to build on our collective strengths. Together, let’s democratize learning for all, making it more relevant and accessible to those who really need it. One immediate opportunity is the upcoming launch of FMD Pro, a certification initiative that will allow non-financial managers in the NGO sector to manage their finances better—and like PMD Pro will provide no-cost options for anyone to get trained. Let’s also partner together to secure more funding for learning projects that meet the challenges of our members and communities worldwide. To help you achieve these objectives, we’ll be bringing technology upgrades and tools to provide even more solutions for those working in challenging environments around the world. Together we’ll continue to fulfil our humanitarian and development agendas while hoping for a positive and peaceful year ahead.