Rising above circumstances to access learning

This is a guest post by Vanessa Lucius, American Refugee Committee

For some, education is their only hope towards a better future. Here’s an inspiring story about Abdalla, an office cleaner at ARC Khartoum, who’s using his passion, motivation and access to free learning via the American Refugee Committee’s “ARC Learning Education and Development System (ARC LEADS) to transform his life and the lives of others for the better. This story was originally shared by American Refugee Committee.

Continue reading “Rising above circumstances to access learning”

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16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

Today kicks off 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, a campaign to educate citizens and lawmakers alike about gender-based violence, human rights, and “the intersections of political, economic, and social realities.”

The uncommon timespan is no accident. Beginning on November 25 (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women), and ending on December 10 (International Human Rights Day), the 16 Days campaign delivers gender equality to the doorstep of human rights – one inextricable from the other.

With thousands of organizations around the world participating in activities, sharing resources, and calling for change, the 16 Days campaign founds a sustained conversation about gender-based violence and human rights.

How are you joining in 16 Days?

Get the newly updated “Guidelines for Integrating Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Action.” Explore the resources and community action supported by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership and UN Women.

Take an online course from UNFPA on managing gender-based violence programs in emergencies. And LINGOs members, the following courses are available to you through the LINGOs Learning Platform:

Course Title LINGOs Learning Platform Course Code
Inter-Agency Standing Committee – Different Needs – Equal Opportunities (Gender Equality in Programming) IASC-IASC-GenderEquality
InterAction – Managing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Investigations IA00-managing-SEA
InterAction – SEA101: Introduction to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse IA00-SEA101
InterAction – SEA201: Mainstreaming of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse IA00-SEA201
Headington Institute – Coping with Traumatic Stress (EN) HI00-traumaticstress-EN-HI
Headington Institute – Coping with Traumatic Stress (ES) HI00-traumaticstress-SP-HI
Headington Institute – Coping with Traumatic Stress (FR) HI00-traumaticstress-FR-HI
Headington Institute – Coping with Traumatic Stress (PT) HI00-traumaticstress-PT-HI

 

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!

5 great resources to help your search for an LMS

Guest Post by Susan O’Connell, Learning and Organizational Development Manager at Habitat for Humanity International

 

With a large global staff working in over 70 countries joined by thousands of new volunteers each year, Habitat for Humanity International’s learning needs led us to join LINGOs as a founding member back in 2005 and begin leveraging the IntraLearn LMS that comes with our Level 2 membership. The system served our early needs well, but over time our motivated learners have been giving the LMS a bigger and bigger work out.  At times registering up to 200 new users each month, we realized that we were ready to leverage LINGOs’ SCORM Dispatch capabilities to implement a new LMS that would provide learners with differentiated access privileges for self-enrollment and immediate access to learning resources, along with additional automation for both our users and learning managers. Recognizing the need for a new LMS is the easy part. With around 500 LMS vendors out there, choosing one can feel like wandering through a forest searching for the perfect tree.

Here are five resources that I found very useful during this selection process and that I would recommend to anyone else facing the same challenge.

1.       Start with your organization’s needs and requirements

In three or four bullet points, describe the top issues that the organization is experiencing with the current system and restate those as a summary of your top needs. This short, high-level summary was very useful throughout the selection process to communicate with various stakeholders, to define the requirements, and to make the final selection. I’ll continue to use it as we move into implementation.

After you have summarized the needs, document the requirements. The requirements are the specific features and functionality that the new system should include. This will be more detailed than the needs summary and it will take longer to finalize. You’ll have to distinguish which requirements are absolute ‘must-haves’ and which are ‘wants.’ Use the needs summary along with input from key stakeholders to do this.

Send the requirements to the vendors you are interested in and ask them to use these to plan a demonstration of their systems. Then, make sure their demonstrations cover these requirements. Most vendors I worked with were happy to have the requirements but I was surprised that a couple ignored them completely until I pushed them! This said a lot to me about what those vendors would be like to work with.

2.       Talk to other LMS users and administrators

Choosing a new LMS for your organization can feel daunting if you’ve never done it before – or even if you have. You can gain a lot of confidence and knowledge by reaching out to others who have been there. Think about all of the contacts you have available to you through your LINGOs membership, other learning providers for your organization, and your own personal and professional contacts.  Everyone I contacted was more than willing to share their experiences with me.

Create a list of questions that you would ask each contact while listening for whatever additional information they might offer. Every organization has their own unique needs and resources, and it will be important to know what those differences are to frame their input in context. I found it helpful to learn how various organizations were staffed to support the LMS and if they had renewed the contract with their vendor yet. Through these contacts I learned that one vendor raised their price 25% after the original three-year contract was up.

3.       Attend conferences and webinars

Using our LINGO’s member benefit to the eLearning Guild, I was among one of the 1,800 attendees and 69 suppliers at the DevLearn conference in 2011. I did not talk to all 1800 attendees, but I certainly tried! In each conversation I mentioned Habitat’s search for an LMS and picked as many brains as I could for experiences and suggestions.

At the DevLearn conference, I attended a useful session titled “The ABCs of selecting an LMS” delivered by Mike Baker and Stacy Lindenberg of First Citizens Bank[1]. Among other great tips they shared, I picked up the idea to ask one of the LMS vendors to provide me with a well-known industry report on learning management systems, which normally costs about $1,500.

Throughout the selection process I attended any and all free webinars that touched on the topic of Learning Management Systems. These were offered by organizations like the eLearning Guild, Brandon Hall Group, and TrainingIndustry.com. It was through one of these webinars that I discovered the vendor that we ultimately chose.

4.       Partner with your Information Technology Department

Your IT department may not be familiar with Learning Management Systems, but they know how to work with software vendors and they know the ins and outs of implementing systems within your organization. At the beginning of our selection process, we were assigned a terrific IT resource who attended vendor demonstrations with me, asked technical questions related to systems integration, and guided us through the contract review. He also helped navigate some of the internal relationships with key stakeholders.

5.       Leverage the LMS vendors

Finally, don’t forget to leverage the vendors you are talking to for whatever resources they can provide! As I mentioned previously, this was how we were able to obtain an otherwise costly industry report. Three things that you should absolutely ask a vendor to provide are:

  • A demonstration of their system that shows how it will meet your requirements.
  • An informal and initial pricing estimate (you don’t need a formal price quote until you’ve narrowed down the top 1-3 vendors, but knowing how they structure their pricing and the range is useful in the early stages).
  • A ‘sandbox’ environment – basically an account that allows you to access their system to test your requirements, test the SCORM Dispatch packages, and try out your user scenarios.

If you find yourself lucky enough to be in the position to select a new LMS for your organization, I hope the five resources above are as useful to you as they were to me. For those of you wondering which vendor we ultimately selected, it was the Intellum Exceed system. Check them out as part of your search, but remember that your organization’s requirements will determine which system is best for you.  

[1] You can access many resources from conferences, even if you don’t attend! For example, you can access backchannel resources from DevLearn here.

 


 Interested in learning more about SCORM Dispatch and what it would mean for your organization? LINGOs Member Agency LMS Administrators have a chance at the July 17 LMS Administrator Question and Answer Session.

Eventbrite - LINGOs LMS Administrator Community Q & A - July 17, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. eastern time

What does YOUR learning data tell you?

Well, it can tell you a lot of things – besides reminding me of the importance of MS Excel® skills, the data from the first quarter of 2012 illustrates some key inputs that LINGOs member agencies are putting to use. Let me share with you the report on courses completed by staff of LINGOs member agencies in the first quarter of 2012.

Some highlights covering the usage by 75 member agencies:

 

  • Almost 10,000 courses completed
  • About 17,500 courses opened
  • 75% increase in eCornell course completion over previous quarter
  • Top source of completed courses – member agency developed courses

Courses Completed Q1-2012 by Developer

Check out the report, and think about what your data tells you about your agency usage… and what questions or concerns it raises. Please share your thoughts in the comments section here (or in the LINGOs group on LinkedIn) on what your learning data tells you!  

While you are at it… take a look at the previous post in the blog about some the new Health Logistics Courses – sure to be a data-changer for many LINGOs member agencies involved in health!

 

 

Maximize your agency’s ROE in Learning

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

You’ve set up your learning portal, selected the courses to include, enrolled your learners, identified learning champions, and even designed and published some e-courses… Congratulations! Your launch is under way. Here are four tips from fellow members to help you to increase your organization’s return on investment (ROI) and YOUR return on effort (ROE).

Engage with your learners: Think about web sites that visit frequently they interact with YOU! (Think Facebook, LinkedIn, Membership sites)… They send you updates and allow you to connect with others. Share some of your learners’ stories about how their learning is helping your agency achieve its mission. Check out the PSI University Voice, a regular e-newsletter that highlights fellow learners: ttps://gallery.mailchimp.com/ac2ff5a03c3fa8ac9e157d738/files/Sept_2011_PSI_U_Voice.pdf

Communicate individually with your learners: send a personalized message when you approve registration for a course, suggest a time-frame for completion, and follow up. IJM (International Justice Mission), a Level 1 member, uses the shared LINGOsLearning portal, and as such doesn’t have the Order Manager functionality in place. Thus, an LMS Registrar processes each request manually. In doing so, the registrar sends the staffer a personalized email (from a template) noting the course title, availability for a defined period of time, and promises to check back on progress.

Support your learning liaisons or champions: Most learning in an organization happens informally. Help your learners share resources with one another; make it easy for them to tell each other about useful resources. CARE is one of several agencies work strategically with learning liaisons or champions. Approximately 60 CARE field-based employees serve in a global network of CARE Academy Liaisons.  As such, the field-based Liaisons collaborate with the CARE Academy team to promote CARE Academy courses in their locations. CARE Academy provides the Liaisons with a series of resources to do this important work. Check out the Liaison Center here. CARE engages with Liaisons with a monthly newsletter, and has fun pop-quizzes. For an example, see the January edition.

Follow-up with your learners: Pull reports regularly and contact learners to remind them of the course they requested, ask about their experience with it, ask how they’ve applied what they learned. IJM’s learning registrar regularly sends messages to staffers a set number of weeks after enrollment to note the learner’s progress with the course (not opened, in progress, or completed) and to encourage utilization of the course and sharing info on application of learning.

LINGOs members shared additional ideas and approaches to build interest, excitement and utilization of learning resources globally in INGOs at December’s Virtual Coffee Break “Engaging your Staff: Marketing Learning to Global Colleagues.” Watch the recorded session, led by Barista Catriona Moriarty of Conservation International. 

What other ideas do you have to increase an international NGO’s ROE and ROI on learning? Please share here in comments or in the LINGOs group on Linked In

We hope to see you at the February Virtual Coffee Break “More than Uno, Dos, Tres: Launching Language Learning Resources at an international NGO” on Thursday, February 9 from 11am- noon eastern US time (for information on the session and login link click here). Check Events on our Member Site for upcoming in-person and virtual events!

LMS Administrators Community Shaping Up

Blog Post by Joey Watkins, LINGOs LMS Administrator and IT Support

Happy 2012! Many of us make resolutions… to get in shape or make changes to be better in the coming year. LINGOs is no exception. We are putting into action some of what we learned at our 2011 member meeting from Tom Kuhlmann’s super presentation on the power of growing a shared practice community.

If you haven’t had a chance to look yet, January 1 brought a few changes to LINGOs Support and the LMS Administrators Community area of our member site. While it’s still a sharepoint site, you’ll see that we’ve reorganized to make it easier for you to find the answers to your questions. We’d like for the LMS Administrator Community to become your first stop when you have questions or experience issues with your LMS portal.  Over time, we’ll expand and beautify the site as members identify and share new issues and questions with LINGOs Support.  You can access the new site at http://ngolearning.org/learningtools/intralearnlms/lmsadmin/default.aspx

But the website is only part of the community. We’re working hard to strengthen and build the community and enable all of us to learn from each other. We’ve initiated a series of Quarterly LMS Administrators Community Q&A virtual sessions.  The first one was January 10, 2012. With about a quarter of LINGOs member agencies participating in real time, it was a great success.  A few of the topics covered were:

  • Using discussion features in the LMS for self-paced courses
  • Using the Event Manager for staff to register for face to face and virtual classroom learning events
  • Branding/re-branding/editing an LMS portal
  • SCORM Dispatch

If you missed the first Q&A session, you can click here to view the recording or, as always, you can find links to past events by going to the Events section of http://ngolearning.org.  

We are confident that the enriched community will be a valuable resource to all of LINGOs’ 75+ international member organizations. By actively participating: seeking information from and contributing knowledge to the community, you’ll help LINGOs move its technology and tech support forward.  With the new year we also documented and put into effect our Member Service Level Agreement for Technical Support.  This document outlines the level of support for the LMS portal included in your LINGOs Membership, as well as the services that will incur additional fees.  You’ll find it on the LMS Administrators Community site.

We hope these changes make getting support for your LMS portal as worry-free as possible, and are looking forward to working with you throughout 2012.

The next LMS Administrator Q&A  is scheduled for April 24, 2012 at 11:00 AM Eastern Time. Member Agency LMS Administrators, please click on the button below to register.

Register for LINGOs LMS Administrator Community Q & A - April 24, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. eastern time on Eventbrite