Creative in Conflict: Project Management Training in Syria via WhatsApp

The war in Syria has created one of the most challenging environments for NGOs to operate in. Financial resources are extremely limited, communication networks are poor and electricity is in short supply. The security situation has forced almost half the population to flee to safety which means there are fewer skilled people left in Syria and those trying to enter the country face numerous risks and problems. As a result, NGOs are in desperate need of project managers but are struggling to recruit or train them.

Marifah for Social Entrepreneurship in Turkey decided to tackle this problem by utilising one of the most reliable free communication tools it has access to: WhatsApp. With the organizational motto, ‘Creative Investment in Creative People,’ they came up with the idea of providing training in Project Management for Development Professionals (PMD Pro) using WhatsApp to engage trainees directly through their phones or computers.

Continue reading “Creative in Conflict: Project Management Training in Syria via WhatsApp”

Advertisements

The story behind PMD Pro Starter

A guest post by John Cropper, Director of Capacity Building Solutions

Whenever I finish a PMD Pro level one training, I can pretty much guarantee what the first two questions are going to be. “When can I do level two”? and “Is there something I can use for my partners”? Let’s leave level two to be the subject of another blog, but until now there has not really been a satisfactory answer to the second question. How can people use PMD Pro for their partners? What tools can help?

Continue reading “The story behind PMD Pro Starter”

Take the Survey: How Does Your Organization Learn at Work?

LINGOs logoA recent survey by Jane Hart asked her blog readers to rate 10 different ways they learn at work.   As you can see here, the results of the survey are provocative, and challenging to Learning and Development (L&D) teams.  However, her results likely don’t represent the reality of the learners we serve in the development, relief and conservation sectors.  While 3,500 readers responded to the survey, very few were from the global South and over 50% of the respondents worked in HR/L&D.

So, let’s explore the different ways that development, relief and conservation workers learn!

Please share the link to this brief survey with your learners around the world.  We want to know how learners in your organization rate 10 different ways they learn at work.  We will keep the survey open for one month, and results will be published in the next LINGOs newsletter.  We will then use the data to:

  • inform a series of articles that outline the challenges of the new world of learning
  • identify models to evolve the traditional role of L&D teams, and
  • introduce LINGOs resources that help address the new realities of learning in the workplace.

Please share the link to the survey widely and often!  The URL is:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CYNVVSK

If you’re interested in learning more about the resources available to NGOs through LINGOs, sign up for our monthly newsletter here.

LINGOs receives Client Excellence Award for the Best Use of NetDimensions Talent Suite for a Good Cause

The NetDimensions Client Excellence Awards ceremony took place in the context of Next Steps regional user conference in Chicago on the 17th September. NetDimensions granted its Excellence Awards to six client organizations to recognize exemplary leadership and innovation in using NetDimensions Talent Suite.

That Wednesday evening we were proud to hand out the Client Excellence Award for the Best Use of NetDimensions Talent Suite for a Good Cause to the LINGOs team.

20140917_LINGOs_Client_Excellence_Award (2)LINGOs Technology Director Robb Allen, NetDimensions Chief Marketing Officer Alex Poulos, LINGOs Member Services Manager Gus Curran (holding award) and LINGOs Technology Support Specialist Juan José Vallejo at NetD Conference

The NetDimensions crew is glad to support LINGOs in their mission to make the world a better place.  “We are proud to be a LINGOs partner and to contribute with our technology in helping to address many of the fundamental challenges faced by society today,” Alex Poulos, Chief Marketing Officer of NetDimensions said. “There is no question that learning can be transformational to communities all over the world and can help better people’s lives with technology playing a key part in that.”

NetDimensions and LINGOs have built an innovative learning offering that is based on NetDimensions Learning, the award-winning Learning Management System available as Secure SaaS, which can serve multiple LINGOs member organizations via highly personalized and distributed learning portals. The portals are developed on the popular WordPress blogging and content management system and utilize BuddyPress, a WordPress plugin that provides social networking functionality.

With the WordPress front-end, LINGOs can cost-effectively provide learning portals to each member organization that meet the unique requirements of their headquarters and country offices wherever they are in the world. These portals integrate with NetDimensions Learning via the NetDimensions SDK that provides single sign-on authentication and specific APIs and widgets for WordPress.

“NetDimensions has always been true to its mission to make learning, performance support and knowledge sharing more accessible to global organizations,” said Jay Shaw, CEO and founder of NetDimensions. “We are honored to be able to do the same for non-profit organizations that have to serve their efforts under very difficult conditions. As a company looking for ways to give back to society, NetDimensions is fully committed to building our relationship with LINGOs and to helping provide a learning technology that has an impact on the world.”

Insights to Better Connecting a Growing Team

Guest Post by Kris Ritter, InsideNGO HR Manager

InsideNGO is a membership association dedicated to strengthening operations staff and fostering leadership in the international NGO sector. InsideNGO is a supporting member of LINGOs.

Using Learning From The Insights Discovery Program

To meet significant growth in its membership and the range of benefits and international services it provides, InsideNGO has increased its staff from five to twenty-five in just over five years.  With the addition of the new staff, it quickly became clear that the less formal management style of InsideNGO was no longer effective.  After efforts to clarify position descriptions and reporting lines, we realized that there was an element missing:  an understanding of management and interaction styles, which are essential in any organization, but especially important in a smaller, growing one.

We leveraged our LINGOs member benefit to the Insights Discovery Profiles

Insights: “…released capacity we didn’t know we had”

Looking for a means to drive individual self-awareness, better communications and organizational development, InsideNGO launched the initiative to have each staff member complete the Insights Discovery profile to incorporate as the major focus of the all-Staff Retreat in December 2013.   We used the individual assessments, online learning available to us as part of InsideNGO’s supporting membership in LINGOs, as well as in-person exercises. As we implemented the Insights Discovery program, a new language, culture (and humor) began to emerge across InsideNGO,  leading to major benefits of a more effective teaming and partnering style across the organization. “Insights unlocked the “software” that allows our hardware (i.e., role/job descriptions) and wiring (i.e., reporting lines) to work even more effectively and release capacity we did not know we had,” observed Tom Dente, InsideNGO Chief Operating Officer.

Insights-InsideNGO

A more effective team means more creativity and innovation as InsideNGO looks to meet the changing needs of its more than 300 members working around the world.

Learn More

InsideNGO Annual Conference: Insights’ Don Johnson will be speaking at the InsideNGO 2014 Annual Conference “Sustaining Excellence in a Changing World.”

LINGOs Member Benefit: Many InsideNGO member organizations are also members of LINGOs (Learning in NGOs). Click to see a list of LINGOs Members. Among the benefits in the LINGOs Membership Toolbox are facilitation tools including Insights Discovery Profiles.

Insights – LINGOs partnership strengthens individuals and teams for global development

 

 

 

 

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!

Two steps forward and one step back

Guest post by Roger Steele, LINGOs Senior Project Manager

rsteeleAccording to contemporary wisdom (Wikipedia), my title is a catchphrase about a frog trying to climb out of a well; for every two steps the frog climbs, it falls back by one step, making its progress arduous, but progress nonetheless. The catchphrase feels like a fitting title for today’s post.

While I’m making steady progress in my eLearning journey – it is strenuous at times. Exactly two years ago, I wrote a post on the topic of eLearning in Southern Africa. Since those earlier efforts, LINGOs has expanded its PMD Pro work to over 20 countries all over Africa — one (big) step forward. I also contributed to a recent blog on virtual coaching for graduates of PMD Pro courses — another step forward. Upon re-reading those posts, I’m hoping readers didn’t get the impression that we are making continuously smooth and uncomplicated progress. Probably not – as most LINGOs members are in touch with the “frog’s arduous climb.”

Ok, now you should be asking: “what is the one step back, Roger?”

Allow me to start with a story. Last September, I led a successful face-to-face PMD Pro1 course for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) staff and partners in Zimbabwe. To encourage learning transfer and application of PMD Pro tools to real work, CRS asked LINGOs to conduct five hours of online virtual coaching with the class participants – a couple months after completion of the course. We scheduled four one-hour virtual classroom sessions. The participants, both CRS staff and their partners, were notified in a timely manner and all was ready to go.

That’s when we took one step back – or in a slightly different direction. Apart from the usual challenges anyone faces in first time log in to a virtual classroom environment, the Zimbabwean participants had an extra special challenge. Out of the 30 invited participants, we were lucky to have five online at any single time – with several regularly popping off and coming back on at regular intervals.

Now don’t get me wrong, the participants did the best possible. It was just a matter of internet connections that came and went! Sometimes those in the capital city, Harare, were the strongest. Other times we had great connections from Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, Bulawayo. Somewhat surprisingly, a participant in the remote town of Chinoyi had an almost perfect connection.

The CRS Zimbabwe story is somewhat typical of our PMD Pro online coaching sessions in African countries, largely because the students are dispersed in numerous locations. As described in an earlier post, the HOTspot approach has shown considerable promise in African locations where a strong internet connection can be secured.

Climbing forward …

We did come up with a solution – a time-tested distance learning approach. Using a software program called Camtasia (techsmith.com) that integrates into MS PowerPoint; I advanced slides and recorded my voice as I talked through each coaching presentation on PMD Pro tools. In total, I produced almost 3 hours of video on tools like Work Breakdown Structure, RACI, Issues Log, Risk Register and Gantt. I ended up with 15 coaching videos with an average length of 10 minutes each. I performed one other step — converting the voice to captions. These were burned under each slide and appear in sync with my voice during video play. The jury is still out whether the captioning step was worth the effort. I know my American English accent is hard to understand for many Africans. English is a second or third language for many. The captions can also be easily translated to other languages.

After some editing of both the voice and captions in Camtasia, I produced the videos in WMV (Windows Media Video) format. I also uploaded the videos to the LINGOs YouTube library. Finally, I added the voice transcriptions as speaker notes in the PowerPoint decks – to assist anyone who wants to use them as a guide to their own Face to Face coaching sessions.

Steady progress

I am writing this blog from Tanzania where I am interacting with some of the World Vision East Africa Operations Directors. After doing a demo of one coaching video, they asked that asked for copies of the WMV files. The World Vision East Africa team plans to burn DVDs for physical distribution to the 800 PMD Pro1 graduates in World Vision East Africa’s 9 National Offices. They seem genuinely excited about this solution.  While not what I initially expected, my eLearning success story is distribution of quick-and-dirty videos on DVDs.  What is most important is that the frog is still making overall progress in the climb.

For more information about LINGOs 4-week PMD Pro1 blended learning course, March 4-28,  see http://4weekpmdprocourse.eventbrite.com