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.
A cross between the founding principles of eCornell, Cornell University’s online-learning arm, and LINGOs, a global development capacity-building consortium, might sound something like “All the world is a classroom.” For NGO staff working around the world, however, learning can be impacted by issues of internet accessibility and dangerous working environments, not to mention distance between offices. As LINGOs’ longtime partner, eCornell is changing the stakes by affordably delivering eCornell courses to NGO learners wherever they work. In the last five years, over 2,200 NGO staff in 120 countries have furthered their professional educations through eCornell, and their numbers are only growing.
eCornell’s generous partnership gives LINGOs’ 80+ Members – all development, humanitarian, or conservation organizations – access to eCornell courses at highly discounted rates. With courses in topics ranging from management to accounting, human resources to plant-based nutrition, eCornell has spurred an enthusiastic response from LINGOs Members, whose staff have taken over 10,800 courses since 2010, at a combined retail savings to their non-profits of over $6,000,000. For Paul Krause, eCornell’s CEO, the partnership “has been a great way for us to provide premium Cornell courses and professional certificate programs to those engaged in the important work of NGOs.”
Learning for a Stronger Sector
TechnoServe, a new member of the LINGOs community, began offering eCornell courses to its staff in May 2015. Since then, enrollment has accelerated. “It’s a combination of a huge demand for learning and just the right type of courses,” says Agnieszka Zieminska Yank, Vice President of Human Resources at TechnoServe. By the end of 2015, more than one hundred TechnoServe staffers had already enrolled in over 460 courses, in topics like “Project Teams: Mining Collective Intelligence” and “Dealing with Difference.” In all, over 90% of TechnoServe staffers surveyed reported that the courses met their expectations “very” or “extremely” well.
“It’s the design of the courses that sells them,” says Libba Ingram, Senior Learning Specialist at Management Sciences for Health. eCornell courses are rigorous and short (most take just two weeks to complete), with no fixed class times, so learners can easily jump into discussions and submit project work from any time zone. Katie Taylor, a Talent Development Specialist at MSH, adds that eCornell is covered as a benefit in employee onboarding, but says word-of-mouth has been a major driver of its success at the organization. Case in point? “Nigeria,” she says. As it turns out, although MSH works in over 65 countries, approximately half of its eCornell enrollments in 2015 came from staff in Nigeria – the result, Ingram and Taylor surmise, of a communication line between colleagues.
For staff looking to deepen their perspective or shift to new roles, eCornell’s certificate programs have proven to be a popular – and global – credential. Certificate programs, usually comprised of five or six courses in a given subject (although master certificates can require twice as many courses, or more) culminate in most disciplines in a certificate from Cornell University. In the past five years, the University has awarded over 700 certificates to the staff of LINGOs Member organizations.
For Francis Rogers, a capacity building coordinator at ACDI/VOCA who recently earned a certificate in HR, eCornell bridged the distance between Ithaca and Liberia, where he’s based. “I do not know whether I would have had the opportunity to attend an Ivy League university had ACDI/VOCA not provided that means,” he writes. To Ross Coxon, Director of LINGOs’ Learning Collaborative, eCornell’s generosity gives LINGOs Member NGOs another way to invest in their own top talent, and more: “The effects of high-quality learning reach not only the staff of LINGOs Members, but also the communities they serve,” he says.
Sergey Hayrapetyan, Senior Advisor (Operational Excellence) at Catholic Relief Services, has completed ten certificates and master certificates through eCornell. In many cases, he says, his coursework has been a lens for approaching his concurrent work with CRS. In a course on scenario planning, for example, he used the homework exercise to develop and apply real strategic objectives for his country program at CRS. “So I was not making anything up,” he says. “I was doing the real thing.” Not only that, but his class discussions and projects incorporated the new perspectives of classmates who came mainly, he says, from the for-profit world.
The Global Classroom
In addition to developing individuals, eCornell is also impacting NGO learning at an organizational level. While the skills training offered by eCornell might not be specific to the non-profit sector, “we’re still an organization. We still have to have people well-versed in skills like HR, management, and accounting, whether they’re HR professionals, or senior leaders, or project staff,” says Bridgett Horn, Learning Manager at The Nature Conservancy.
For NGOs operating between far-flung offices, eCornell can provide a creative means of fusing teambuilding with learning. Catholic Relief Services offers its staff some dedicated eCornell sessions – courses just for CRS learners. Jean Marie Adrian, Senior Advisor (Leadership and Career Development) at CRS, notes that for LINGOs Members facing the cost of gathering staff for trainings in Nairobi or Dubai, eCornell is a clear alternative: “For the price of one airfare, you can train everyone in-depth [through a dedicated session] for two weeks.” Adrian also notes that the cross-section of CRS learners is larger and richer in the eCornell sessions than is often feasible in an onsite: “You have mid-level managers taking a course with country representatives, or higher-level managers,” he says. “The mix is very, very interesting.”
Chris Proulx, LINGOs’ CEO (and formerly of eCornell), is not surprised by the positives that CRS and other LINGOs Members are seeing. He says that “eCornell has had a model for now 15 years that has always been social in its construction, yet it’s not what people normally think about when they think about social learning.”
And although the type of social learning happening with eCornell “isn’t taking place in 140 characters,” Proulx continues, “it’s helping people to exchange knowledge with peers and colleagues who they may not otherwise have had an opportunity to connect with.”
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!
Last week, LINGOs celebrated a very special occasion. Not only did we host our largest member meeting at Mercy Corps in Portland, Oregon, with participants coming from almost every inhabited continent, but we celebrated our first ten years and our founder Eric Berg.
At our celebration event we recognized two LINGOS community members that have consistently contributed in ways large and small to make the LINGOs membership community what it is.
LINGOs members range from small with about 20 staff members to very large – with 40,000 global staff members. We recognized two members from across our size spectrum for their consistent contributions over the years, and this year in particular.
Member of the Year – Smaller NGO
There is a small microfinance non-profit based in Charlestown, MA. When I say “small” I’m referring to staff size and budget — but is outsized in vision and strategy. Since joining in 2006, Accion has actively participated in the LINGOs membership community. Accion has always sent someone to the LINGOs meeting – listening, engaging, participating and sharing ideas, approaches and best practices.
Accion has modeled strategic use of learning resources made available through its membership in LINGOs – from creating and sharing early eLearning courses on project management to inspiring top notch eLearning developer Amanda Warner to contribute valuable creativity and design in the early Global Giveback years through the creation of courses that are shared with the entire community (click here for an overview of the 2011 Global Giveback); modeling use of multiple low-cost learning technologies in its learning circles program, serving on planning and advisory committees, to sharing its mentoring program strategy in LINGOs 2014 “Learning at Work Week” webinars. Please join us in congratulating Accion as a LINGOs 2014 Member of the Year.
Member of the Year – Larger NGO
A founding member of LINGOs, The Nature Conservancy has supported the community – hosting meetings small and large, contributing leadership and vision to committees and to our board of directors.
The Nature Conservancy has pushed LINGOs to think bigger and farther ahead to meet the needs and maintain engagement of our larger members with greater sophistication in learning and technology. Those at the recent Member Benefit Spotlight on Articulate rapid eLearning development tools, and at the LLP training workshop last week saw that level of expertise!
TNC has consistently provided behind the scenes support – financially seeded contribution so we were able to make a purchase of licenses for language training several years ago. When we asked members to contribute for translation this year – maybe $500 each, TNC asked “how much do you need?” When LINGOs’ Last Mile Learning Financial Management Path becomes available in a few weeks in French, please say “Merci” to The Nature Conservancy.
And, even though they “stole” our first paid staff person, we are enormously grateful to TNC for sharing its initial very positive experience, their expertise, strategy, lessons learned with deploying NetDimensions. So while they are quiet and don’t toot their own learning horn, we want to recognize The Nature Conservancy as a Member of the Year.
Stay tuned for another post in which we recognized individuals for their contributions over our first decade.
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.
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.
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.
10-years ago LINGOs began as a consortium of international NGOs working to reduce poverty and alleviate suffering in the developing world. LINGOs members joined together to share ideas and participate in world-class learning opportunities provided by individuals volunteers, corporations and learning institutions. By leveraging the exceptional products and services that have been either donated or provided at significantly reduced costs to our members, LINGOs has been able to help those doing good….do it better.
Over the past few years LINGOs has expanded its offerings to members and other NGOs through Project Services and Last Mile Learning. Both of these program units are rapidly gaining momentum as the demand for their trainings, courses and services increase.
Today, LINGOs is so much more than what we started with back in 2004. We have – and continue to – evolve to reach more and more relief and development organizations and volunteers even in the most remote areas of the world.
This year as we celebrate our 10-year anniversary we are launching new initiatives for our organization, our members and our community. Included in these initiatives is new branding for LINGOs and its three program units together with the introduction of new websites.
Logos & Websites
We started with one logo: LINGOs. The familiar star burst logo, with its arm stretching across the world encompassed our entire organization. Today, we officially introduce the new LINGOs logo together with the logos for our three program units.
The LINGOs website has served us well over the years – and today we are very excited to launch our new site(s) with an updated look and feel; easy navigation, and add user-friendly tools.
The LINGOs logo has maintained the same look and feel of our original logo, but we’ve updated the colors and added a new tag line. Our updated website now reflects the more comprehensive programming LINGOs offers. You will find the updated LINGOs landing page at the same address: http://www.lingos.org. This site has an “updates” section, where you can read news from LINGOs, including the recent announcement of Chris Proulx as our next CEO. From the LINGOs.Org website you can access the three program area websites or you may visit them individually.
Membership’s logo represents community coming together to build capacity, knowledge and skill. The new membership site, http://www.membership.lingos.org is the outward facing site for membership. This is a helpful site for those interested in learning more about the LINGOs membership consortium. For now, Members can find detailed information about member benefits and resources on the long serving member Sharepoint site http://ngolearning.org.
Project Services logo represents LINGOs helping development professionals work together more effectively in the management of projects. http://www.projectservices.lingos.org. This new site highlights the many resources our team offers for organizations seeking to build capacity to deliver their projects and programs better. The site includes communities of learning and links to open and closed project management courses.
Last Mile Learning’s logo, which debuted with the launch of the Last Mile Learning site a year ago continues to accurately represent its objective to bring learning to the people on the ground in the most remote and hard to reach areas of the world. http://www.lastmilelearning.org.
All four logos will be utilized in our communications so you can readily identify its origin.
2014 is turning out to be a banner year for LINGOs and we invite you to keep an eye out for more exciting news as the year progresses!