LINGOs Partners with OpenSesame

Guest Post by Kelly Meeker, OpenSesame

 

You all are fortunate and engaged members of a global network – LINGOs – that takes advantage of emerging technologies to connect global resources to a global community.  No longer are the far-flung employees of international nongovernmental organizations disconnected from the latest trends in their industry! LINGOs is doing incredible work to  leverage elearning technology to build global capacity.

And OpenSesame is proud to jump in. As a new startup in the elearning sector, we’re thrilled to partner with LINGOs to connect our technology platform and community of talented elearning developers to you, the learning leaders in international organizations.

The OpenSesame eLearning Marketplace Connects the Buyers and Sellers of Elearning Courses

OpenSesame is an online marketplace that makes it as easy to buy elearning courses as it is to download a song off the internet. eLearning sellers from all over the world upload their courses to the OpenSesame marketplace, set prices and bulk discounts and sell their courses to new customers.

 eLearning buyers browse our catalog by course subject, author, length, difficulty and special features and discover new courses and new authors. Before making a purchase, buyers can preview courses, read user reviews and research the seller’s credentials – ensuring that they’re finding the best courses to meet their organization’s learning and development goals.

In addition to connecting buyers and sellers through OpenSesame, we remove one major headache for learning managers like you by connecting any SCORM course to any LMS. Our platform technology removes obstacles to implementation and enables you to focus on the important stuff, like building connections with colleagues, developing new resources and getting to the core business of what you do – solving problems.

Opening a Larger Conversation

We are also facilitating a larger conversation on the evolving elearning sector on our blog and on Twitter. We’re blogging about everything from technical stuff (Creating a Multi SCO Package to Include Support Materials) to investigating new growth areas in the elearning sector (How to Create a Social Learning Environment). Our mission is to unlock elearning by making elearning accessible and easy to implement, while enabling you to choose the most effective and appropriate courses for your needs. 

Partnership with LINGOs

We’re proud to work with LINGOs to bring more learning and development resources to nongovernmental organizations because we believe elearning is the key to unlocking the potential of every learner, no matter how far away they may be.

We are partnering with LINGOs to engage the OpenSesame community in generating more resources for LINGOs members. First, we’re adding a check box to our course upload process to enable OpenSesame sellers to choose to donate use of their courses to LINGOs members. We’ll work with LINGOs to add those courses to the LINGOs LMS and make them available to members directly through a LINGOs area on our website.

OpenSesame will also join LINGOs and the eLearning Guild  as a co-sponsor to the 3rd Annual Global Giveback competition. This competition brings out the best in the elearning community by connecting willing volunteers with some of the organizations making real change happen on the ground, and we’re proud to invite our sellers to participate.

We hope this is just the beginning of a fruitful partnership that will continue to generate more resources for LINGOs members. Thanks for everything you do. We look forward to working with you, and we invite you to connect with us through our blog, Twitter or email.

End of quarter, end of year reflections and a request to our members

Posted by Marian Abernathy

The end of one calendar year and start of a new is often time for reflection. 2010 has been an active year for LINGOs. To accommodate the needs of our growing membership and evolving needs of our existing members, last summer our board of directors approved a new membership structure. We now have two categories of membership:

  • International NGOs working in three or more developing countries with a primary mission of international development, relief, conservation and/or social justice, and
  • Supporting Member including foundations and associations that support this work, or NGOs with similar missions that work in fewer than 3 developing countries. Supporting Members have a customized package of benefits and membership is subject to board approval.

In addition, we’ve added a new Enterprise Membership to better meet the needs of our largest member agencies who work in a confederation. The Enterprise level makes sense for organizations that have multiple memberships.

We have a number of new courses in the catalog, including:

  • Project Management courses geared toward the Prince 2 Certification
  • Food Security courses in three languages from FAO
  • Multilingual management, human resources, financial management courses from Cegos
  • NGO-developed courses shared by members and other NGOs, including topics on
    • Office ergonomics
    • Several conservation topics
    • Programming mobile devices for health surveys
    • And lots more coming from the Global Giveback Competitions

We also added the following courses, tools and resources to our member benefits this year:

  • a 2-part virtual class on coaching skills from Coaching out of the Box ®
  • FeedbackToGo – which provides real-time, 360-degree feedback on leadership and team development competencies that are behaviorally prescribed
  •  Quicklessons – an online course authoring tool that permits collaboration among multiple developers
  • iMindmap –an organic brain-friendly thinking tool that can be used for brainstorming, project planning, course-mapping
  • SCORM Dispatch which permits member agencies who wish to deploy an LMS other than IntraLearn LMS that comes with your LINGOs membership, yet still have access to the courses in the LINGOs catalog
  • Implementing Partner Portal Option providing members the resources of the LINGOs courses as an element of their capacity building for their developing country, not-for-profit, NGO implementing partners.

LINGOs is growing and members are taking an active role in leading the community in our LinkedIn Group, in person at the member meeting (2011 is in Seattle, Washington!), and through the new and exciting “Virtual Coffee Breaks/Happy Hours.”   Stay up-to-date with news and events by subscribing to LINGOs announcements, the LINGOs Blog, and the LinkedIn Group.

We’ve also taken on the implementation of three project management initiatives (one in southern Africa, another in Haiti, and a third regional project in Latin America). As every single LINGOs member agency manages projects, we are confident that this work will benefit LINGOs member agencies in manners big and small, not the least of which will be the addition of additional capacity at LINGOs (in managing the projects and the LMS) and translation of project management resources in multiple languages.

We are very pleased to offer 2011 membership without an increase in dues. For those of you in decision-making roles, please consider whether your organization is presently a member at the most appropriate level. We’d be happy to talk with you about how we can best serve your organization’s needs.

And finally, a request: we continue to strive toward our vision that anyone who works in international development, relief, conservation and social justice has access to world-class learning at little or no cost. We seek your input in our annual member satisfaction survey to better identify your learning-related needs, how well we met them this past year,  and what you’d ideally like to see in the future in your LINGOs membership. Please complete our annual member satisfaction survey before the end of this calendar year. To launch the survey, please click here or on: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LINGOs2010MemberSatisfaction

We hope to see you at our upcoming Quarterly Update webinar on Thursday, December 16 from 11am – noon Eastern time.  In addition to having a bit of fun over Elluminate Live!, we’ll share with you the latest news on:

  • New Courses (there are lots!)
  • 3rd quarter data on learning
  • eLearning Global Giveback
  • Report from the Language Task Force
  • Report from our Curriculum Project Interns
  • Give an update on the new Project Management Projects and some of the resources they bring to LINGOs members
  • The virtual coffee breaks (the refreshments are the least of it!)

 Please accept our best wishes for a new year filled with learning and professional development for you and your staff; and a healthier, more peaceful and just world for all.

Eric, Marian, Mike, Robb, Ana Raquel, Joey, Roger, Tyler, and Martha

The LINGOs Team

Can you build a course in 15 minutes? (and free Articulate Templates)

Posted by Michael Culligan, LINGOs

The other night I saw a Geico advertisement that touted “this commercial was made in only 15 minutes!” 

Sure, the commercial is kitschy, but 15 minutes!   This got me thinking, could I develop a course in 15 minutes?   Well you could argue that a commercial is a lot different than a course.  The concepts in television commercials are so simple.  The messages are designed to be very short.  Wouldn’t learning topics require different mechanisms than those of a television commercial?

Not necessarily, just this week I discovered a You Tube video that employs the  same software Geico used (try it free at  www.xtranormal.com )  to critique the  “quantitative easing” policy recently introduced by the Federal Reserve. Talk about a boring topic!  It is complex, convoluted, arcane and technical.   And yet, the video takes this very polarizing and complicated topic and puts it into a format that keeps people engaged for seven minutes. While you might disagree with the critique presented in the video (and many do), focus on the fact that the developers have successfully developed a rapid, inexpensive communication mechanism that has already been shared with nearly 3 million people!

A recent post on the Articulate community site examines ways the videos created by XtraNormal can be used in the e-learning context.  The video’s author shows viewers how to embed XtraNormal videos  into her elearning course.  She uses the videos to simulate conversations between co-workers, providing  scenario based conversations for e-learning.   Clearly,  this is a technology that has many weaknesses, but it is yet another example of the directions in which technology is moving to make rapid e-learning a more accessible and less expensive option for everyone.

AND NOW FOR THE FREE TEMPLATES: The XtraNormal software product is one example of a great resource I learned about via Tom Kuhlmann’s Rapid e-Learning Blog (I highly recommend you all sign up for his e-mails.) Another great example of resources I learned about through the blog is a set of Articulate Presenter templates that is available for free until January 1st. Learn more about these free course templates. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the screen to find the link to the free templates. You will need your Articulate Rapid eLearning Studio license key to receive the templates.

Field Staff Capacity Building Models for National and International NGOs: the 4 As

Presented at the Interaction meeting in June 2010 and  adapted from an article by Eric Berg and Beth Birmingham in “Monday Developments” (Aug 2010, p 37)

For years international NGOs have struggled to develop the skills and competencies of their staff around the world. This challenge has been complex and daunting: broad geographic dispersion of the target audience, a wide range of experience and competence levels, high levels of staff turnover, challenges identifying content, multiple language requirements, and very limited resources. Fortunately, there is good news.

Over the past decade, development organizations have been able to reach thousands of hew learners with quality learning content at very low incremental cost. What has changed? The introduction of learning innovations that help organizations address the ‘Four A’s’ of capacity building:

Audience – Can the learning content be scaled to reach staff across the world?
Appropriate – Is the content contextualized to the environments where it will be applied?
Accessible – Are the learning resources there for staff to use when they need it and where they need it?
Affordable – Can the resources be deployed given the resource constraints of development organizations?

There is no single simple solution that an address the ‘four A’s of capacity building. However a creative combination of innovation in learning design and content distribution, have enabled a number of organizations to successfully address the challenge.

Blended Learning Design
Enhancements in learning technologies are providing the opportunities for international NGOs to blend the best of their traditional approaches to face to face training with an array of new learning media (skype, webinars, etc.). One example of these “blended learning” environments is a 10-year collaboration between World Vision International and Eastern University. This leadership development program brings NGO leaders together once a year in their region (5 continents) for a workshop atmosphere. Faculty are a combination of both professors and practitioners from the region, serving as facilitators and coaches both in the residency environment as well as the on-line environment (using an on-line learning platform) that continues throughout the year. This on-going interaction beyond the residency or workshop ensures on-the-job coaching and greater implementation of the training content.

New Distribution Models
A second innovation in the world of staff development training is the introduction of new models for distributing learning content. Traditionally, learning has been ‘pushed’ through organizations from a central office without much regional contextualization. Increasingly new distribution models allow learners in the field to PULL the learning they need to their locations – when they need it, where they need it and in the form they need it. The new models are more flexible and available through self-service approach, whether that be through on-line courses, communities of practice, RSS feeds, webinars, or recorded content that is accessible through the internet.

One example, of this shift toward social learning is the work of the Project Management Capacity Building Initiative sponsored by LINGOs and PM4NGOs*. While the program can include face to face training approaches that are more formal where facilitators are ‘sent’ to lead trainings around the world; the same content that is conveyed through formal workshops is also made available through webinars, recorded sessions, and e-learning modules. Now, if an employee in Ghana wants to enhance her skills, she no longer needs to wait for a workshop to be conducted in Accra. Instead, she can begin working on her learning immediately. As a result of these new distribution models, she has a variety of choices from which to choose and can decide what best fits her professional needs, her personal constraints and/or her learning preferences.

Social Learning
While much attention has been placed on the use of new technologies, some of the most important recent innovations have been in the area of social learning. The Project Management Capacity Building Initiative, for example, invites all its learners (regardless of the distribution platform they use) to join open community of project management practitioners. In less than one year, over 750 project managers have joined an on-line community where practitioners from the development sector are available to discuss new approaches and provide guidance for any learner seeking assistance from the community. Similarly, the learning collaboration between World Vision International and Eastern University enhances its instruction through the use of a cohort model where groups of students move through the program together, employing peer support groups intended to support the application of the learning to their job situations.

Conclusion
For international NGOs, the introduction of these innovations couldn’t be more timely. Today, the need to build the capacity of local partners and national staff is more urgent than ever. With these new tools, there are now practical and proven approaches that can help ensure that appropriate, accessible and affordable training is available to a global audience.

*The case study of the project management capacity building work was presented at a LINGOs webinar in September 2010. To access the recording, click here

LINGOs Fall 2010 Quarterly Update Webinar

We’re bursting with excitement and have lots of great news and resources to share with members at our Quarterly Update Webinar  on Wednesday Sept 22.

Even if you are planning to attend our Fall Member Meeting (please register by Sept 27th if you haven’t yet!), this quarterly update has news and resources from LINGOs that you won’t want to miss, and that will not be covered at the October 6-7 Member Meeting in DC.

Get the inside scoop on the following topics and more:

  • Need more Elluminate licenses? We’ll shed some light on what we have available to members that can extend this valuable resource

 

  • LINGOs partnerships to Build Project Management Capacity in Southern Africa, Haiti and Latin America: Get an update from Eric, Roger and Mike, who are now in South Africa and Haiti getting this work up and running!

 

  • Want custom-developed eLearning courses on your content but don’t have the budget? It’s not too late to get in on the action of the eLearning Global Giveback. We’ll tell you how!
  •  

And last, but definitely not least…

This year’s meeting will include an “unconference.”  Please think about the topics you may want to share that are not yet on the agenda, as well as those that you want to hear about from others!

We’ve put together some items on the agenda that we know you want to talk about (you’ve been discussing them on LinkedIn, at the virtual coffee break, and talking about them with LINGOs team). But, there’s so much more.  This year’s member meeting is partially developed as an Open-space or UNconference event. Participants will define the topics at the opening session in which we’ll use Buzan Learning’s iMindmap tool (which is available to LINGOs members).  To prepare:

1.       What do you want to learn from other members? This year’s meeting will include an “unconference.”  Please think about the topics you may want to share that are not yet on the agenda, as well as those that you want to hear about from others!

2.       What do you have to share with others? Please bring examples/samples of materials and resources you have developed or are using to promote learning in your organization. We will have two 20-minute sessions where participants can view and interact with each other to share and learn about each other’s resources.

 

Mark Weds, Sept 22, at 11 am Eastern on your calendar for the Fall 2010 Quarterly update: and check the Events on www.LINGOs.org for additional events already on the calendar (some have registration deadlines right around then!)

SCORM What?

Over the past couple of years, LINGOs has spoken with several member agencies regarding their desire to utilize a learning management system (LMS) other than the LMS portal provided as part of LINGOs membership.  Although LINGOs doesn’t require member agencies to use a particular LMS, access to content in the LINGOs Catalog has not been available outside the LMS portal provided with membership…until now.

About nine months ago, LINGOs began working with our partner Rustici Software, to develop an LMS-agnostic solution which would allow LINGOs to retain full control of content available in the LINGOs Catalog while allowing the member agencies that prefer to use another LMS (such as Cornerstone on Demand, Moodle, PeopleSoft ELM, etc.) the ability to access content from the LINGOs Catalog.  In March 2010, LINGOs sent an email to member agencies regarding the plans for the new product. In May 2010, four agencies (Catholic Relief Services, Population Services International, Save the Children US, and The Nature Conservancy) began beta testing the new product.  On July 19, LINGOs released the new into production.

 

The product, called SCORM Dispatch, allows LINGOs to provide very tiny SCORM 1.2 course packages to a member agency that can be loaded into the member agency’s SCORM 1.2-conformant LMS of choice.  Once loaded, the course package appears as just another course within the member agency’s LMS catalog.  The member agency has the ability to enroll users and control access to the course within their LMS.  Content for the LINGOs Catalog courses still resides at LINGOs.

When an enrolled user clicks on the course within his or her agency’s LMS, the SCORM Dispatch course package connects to SCORM Dispatch, authenticates the user, and passes certain SCORM 1.2-related data back to the agency’s LMS.  All of this is done in the background with no additional login required by the user.  During the course session, small bits of data are transferred between SCORM Dispatch and the member agency’s LMS on behalf of the user.  When the user completes the course, completion status, completion date, and course grade (if applicable) for the user are passed to the member agency’s LMS. 

 

SCORM Dispatch opens a whole new world of opportunities for agencies with needs beyond what the basic out-of-the-box IntraLearn portal provides.  For example, if an agency wanted to:

  •  Synchronize user data between an LMS and internal systems (HRIS, talent management systems, etc.)
  • Establish a single sign-on between an LMS and internal systems (SharePoint sites, internal web sites, etc.)
  • Configure an LMS that generates custom reports
  • Create a system whereby LMS usage reports are emailed to targeted groups or available for download
  • Deploy an LMS that has more robust social networking features, talent management capabilities, or more robust course management features

then SCORM Dispatch could be used with the agency’s chosen LMS to help achieve these goals (in addition to others not mentioned).  SCORM Dispatch would be the delivery mechanism for the course content from the LINGOs Catalog and the communicator of course status to the member agency’s LMS.  The member agency’s LMS would handle all other processes. 

As stated in previous messages, SCORM Dispatch is an add-on.  Member agencies wishing to utilize SCORM Dispatch must be Level 2 or Enterprise members (or upgrade existing Level 1 membership).  Depending on membership level, there is a one-time fee and annual maintenance fee to utilize SCORM Dispatch (See Member Benefits for details).

Thanks to the partnership with Rustici Software and the hard work of our Beta Testing members (CRS, PSI, TNC and Save the Children-US) and the leadership of Robb Allen,  LINGOs very pleased to be able to offer this add-on product to member agencies that have matured beyond the basic out-of-the-box features of the IntraLearn portal provided as part of LINGOs membership. 

Member agencies wanting more information about SCORM Dispatch, can find it here:  http://ngolearning.org/communities/lms/community/pages/SCORM%20Dispatch.aspx.  LINGOs members with questions not answered within the aforementioned site, please contact Robb [robb (at) lingos.org].

Integrating Virtual Worlds into Your Training

Over the past two years, there has been much interest expressed in the integration of virtual world applications like Second Life into training activities.  A couple of interesting articles crossed my desk this week that explore two innovative (yet distinctly different) approaches to this question.

The first case study comes from Harvard Law School, where a father/daughter teaching team has been using Second Life to conduct moot course sessions.  The video on this site extends 60 minutes and the content is thoughtful and informative from beginning to end.  The first half of the session focuses on the perspective of the father – a more theoretical and pedagogical reflection on the use of Second Life for training. The second half of the video focuses on the daughter’s perspective (scroll forward to minute 29 of the presentation), who provides an enormously interesting overview of the practical elements of developing learning environments in Second Life.  (Note:  I had some difficulties opening the Harvard link in Internet Explorer – try Mozilla Firefox if you have difficulties.)

The second case study comes from Tom Kuhlman, author of the Rapid e-Learning Development blog.  Tom introduces a very interesting idea whereby he uses the avatars developed in virtual worlds to serve as the “characters” in his e-learning courses developed with Articulate Presenter.  His blog post is an excellent read – and as a special bonus –  Tom includes the source code for the example course he provides as a proof of concept.

Why We Love Jing

At LINGOs, we love JING!  When we are working on a virtual team and need to work through a complicated troubleshooting issue… … make a JING!  Need to train a group of LMS Administrators on how to complete a task on the Learning Management System… … make a JING!  About to launch a major new initiative and need to communicate with hundreds of people… … make a JING!

Why do we love JING?  First, it’s free!  Second, it is intuitive and easy to use.  Third, you can forget about struggling with the complicated effort involved with managing source files, publishing in multiple formats, and uploading to FTP sites.  Finally, did I mention it is free?

As the JING Project turns one year old, the development team has made the product even more easy to love.  JING subscribers now receive  a complimentary server account with 2 GB of storage and 2 GB of transfer bandwidth per month. 10 times the size available previously.  Furthermore, you can increase your server space at a reasonable additional price.

If you want to learn more, visit some of the links above, or go to www.jingproject.com

Increase Training Impact Through Mind Mapping

Affinity Diagram ProcessDoes this photograph look familiar?   When international NGOs host training workshops, we rely extensively on brainstorming, flip charts and affinity diagramming (think sticky sheets) approaches as a/the primary facilitation tool.  And yet, I would imagine that many of you have wondered (as have I) what happens to all those sticky sheets and flip chart pages once the event is over?

In theory, the sticky sheet diagrams are photographed, and the flip charts are transcribed so that the data can be converted into knowledge, documented and then shared.  Too often, however, this is not the case!  Whether due to resource limitations, competing priorities, and/or the unwieldy nature of flip chart paper and sticky sheets, often the knowledge from these events is never documented, or is documented and shared weeks later – frequently with significant transcription errors.

MindManager ScreenshotIntroducing Mind Mapping applications – software that allows trainers to easily collect brainstorming ideas,   organize them into visual diagrams, and at the push of a button save the image into a .pdf file.  These .pdf files are ready seconds after your session is complete and can be shared via e-mail, uploaded to your intranet, or distributed any way you would exchange a computer file.  Furthermore, many of these Mind Mapping applications have features that allow you to convert your map into a Word document that is organized in outline format.  Envision your visual brainstorming results converted into a Word format that is immediately ready to embed in the minutes of your meeting or workshop!

There are many mind map software vendors , and a quick Google search will identify at least a dozen options to choose from.  One that I find particularly strong is MindManager (sold by Mindjet  for about $349.00 (windows) and $129 (Mac).)  In the words of Frank Ryan, Head of Library and Information Services at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, “MindManager has saved me countless hours in planning reports and presentations and I have used it very successfully to simplify complex issues. It is very easy to use and Mind Maps can be converted into low-memory PDFs.”

A free, open-source alternative is FreeMind While I have no personal experience using the Free Mind product, it comes highly recommended by the people on the Knowledge Management for Development List Serve.  If any of you have experimented with FreeMind, let us know about your experience by adding a comment to this blog post.