Trendy and arguably even “shiny object” HR policies in the private sector, especially tech firms, grab a lot of headlines. So, when I read this blog post about how “HR Mavericks” were abolishing HR departments and replacing them with an Employee Experience department, I wanted to know what some of the INGOs’ more innovative HR leaders thought about the concept. Rest assured there is a lot going on to transform HR in our sector, with a focus on making sure that the right people are in place at the right time and aligned with the mission and values to be effective from day one.
By Mike Culligan, Director of Last Mile Learning
In his book The Future of Work, Jacob Morgan observes that “the traditional way to learn and teach was largely guided and dictated by organizations who set out training programs, manuals, and set courses. Technology has connected employees and information together anywhere, anytime, and on any device. This means that learning and teaching can happen between employees without official corporate training programs or manuals. Have a question? Tap into the collective intelligence of your company.”
Morgan’s observations underscore a fundamental shift in the way organizations interpret the concept of “workplace learning.” Nowhere is this shift more apparent than in the work that LINGOs is doing with its partners in the Last Mile Learning initiative. In Syria, for example, we are working with the Syrian NGO Forum to set up a learning platform that supports the staff of over 90 NGOs (local and international) responding to the crisis in that country. While the platform will serve as a channel to distribute a collection of Arabic-language eCourses, the NGO Forum is equally excited about using the platform’s front-end to establish a system of social/networked learning that helps emergency responders to connect and share knowledge via groups, discussion threads, blogs, wikis and document repositories. The Syria context is especially challenging for learning because relief workers are located in three countries, do not have free passage between the areas in which they work, and often are unable to attend coordination meetings and trainings. To remedy these constraints, the platform will provide users access to “just in time learning”, but will also provide the “just in time information” that is critical to supporting the people they serve.
Jane Hart recently reviewed Morgan’s book in her excellent Learning in the Social Marketplace blog and concluded by asking ‘How is your organization supporting the ‘learning worker”?’ LINGOs’ work in Syria provides a window into the new opportunities organizations have to promote both formal learning and social/networked learning through the new LINGOs learning platform.
Interested in learning more? Join Mike for a one-hour webinar on Thursday, May 14 as he shares 7 lessons from the social platform launch in Syria. Details and registration here.
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!
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.
Guest Blog post by Peter Balvanz
Program Officer, Knowledge Management, FHI, Durham, NC, USA
In August of last year FHI joined the LINGOs community. From October 11 to December 11 we conducted a pilot eLearning initiative with four FHI country offices to help inform us in our global roll-out, which we are currently planning. Pilot objectives included:
- Understand value of courses for global employees
- Test the course approval process
- Manage workflow before global roll-out.
Relying heavily on LINGOs staff and website, other member organizations, and a strategic group at FHI, our pilot was deemed a success. At the conclusion of the two month pilot:
- 212 staff were batch-load registered to our portal
- 25% of these staff registered for at least 1 course (52/212)
- Individual staff requested 4 courses on average at first visit
- Among courses started (70), 40% were completed (28) during the pilot period (not all country offices started the pilot on Oct 11).
- Courses generally took between 1-2 hours cumulative time.
Aiming to quickly offer courses to country office staff in our pilot, we were able to register staff, and communicate select course offerings through a branded portal within two months. Several strategies facilitated this accomplishment, including:
1) LINGOs support staff and website – the website generally had answers to questions we had, but if it didn’t, the staff did
2) LinkedIn member and organization support – other experienced organizations collaborated to answer our posted questions, offering advice from personal experience and guidance documents used with their own staff
3) Forming and utilizing a strategic working group representing diverse departments at FHI.
In the case of the first two, FHI was the beneficiary of strong institutional knowledge, best practices, and lessons learned. LINGOs staff were consistently timely in providing solid support and successfully facilitated beneficial relationships among member organizations. The advice and guidance documents shared with FHI by member organizations provided an easy-to-assemble structure that enabled a quick release to pilot countries.
Internally, FHI assembled a strategic working group to develop policies and divide necessary labors. Our group included an administrator from Knowledge Management; HR representatives; Global Portfolio Management (GPM – country office liaisons) to aid in decisions important to international FHI staff; and IT. Our decision making body crossed responsibilities to ensure all relevant voices were heard and we could get the most from our LINGOs membership.
The strategic group sought input from country offices to advertise eLearning, tailor course selections to country needs, and to select countries interested in a pilot. First, a short survey was emailed to country directors asking them to select courses most relevant to their staff and inquire whether they would be interested in participating in the pilot. Pilot countries selected were to be diverse in staff size, capacity, and bandwidth, to get a better sense of the wider benefits of courses and challenges. Learning areas deemed most important across the country offices were used to populate our portal with about 50 courses. Before including in the portal, most of the courses were quickly reviewed by staff from departments represented in our strategic group.
As our preparation progressed, we wrote numerous template documents, including: Welcome letter to liaisons; Welcome letter for staff to be sent by liaisons; single sheet orientation to LINGOs; administrative roles and responsibilities; and policies and procedures, including screen shots for users.
Once our portal was branded and loaded with courses, the opportunity was disseminated to staff through a country office liaison selected by the country director. Liaisons were welcomed through an email describing responsibilities, and followed by a more in-depth phone call. To encourage greater communication with country staff, we sent three bi-monthly updates and reports to liaisons offering support. We also arranged one collective Elluminate session for liaisons to share their experiences and to show how to view reports as the country’s Registrar.
Evaluation and Lessons Learned
Upon conclusion of the pilot, we developed surveys for both liaisons and pilot staff to answer our objectives questions. Staff believed most courses to be relevant to their jobs, easy to navigate, and easy to understand, but noted that work demands and bandwidth to be barriers to access in some countries. Staff appreciated the opportunity for development, but desired more public health specific courses. Liaisons believed eLearning to be a good opportunity for staff development and spent an average of 1-2 week assisting staff.
Numerous lessons were learned to help guide the eventual global roll-out. Though staff were informed of a user name and password given to them, many would sign-in as new users, thus creating extra work for administrators to avoid double identities. Countries with low-bandwidth would get frustrated by courses freezing, a reality that cued us to the need to better advertise courses designed for low bandwidth areas.
Also worth noting for greater context, FHI did not deploy eCornell during the pilot. Our primary focus was giving access to courses from the LINGOs course catalog. Finally, we are in the initial stages of promoting Articulate. We have installed copies of the software on shared spaces in our domestic offices, and have begun promoting the software. Our next steps include revising our procedures manual, reviewing courses in our portal, and beginning to disseminate the opportunity to a wider audience.
Manager & Senior Advisor, Clinical Affairs at Ipas
Keeping up-to-date with ever-evolving scientific literature is a challenge for staff in many health-related agencies. For global health agencies, ensuring that staff members are interpreting the literature and applying it to their work is further complicated by distance, time zones, variable backgrounds, perspectives and context. One way we have addressed these challenges at Ipas is by offering virtual journal clubs.
Several years ago, Ipas initiated a Journal Club as a face to face meeting of interested staff, to review recent literature in our field. The topics vary from a focus on a specific clinical question to more general topics, such as quality improvement. Our staff from around the world was encouraged to participate by calling in Journal club creates an opportunity to share recent lessons from the literature, discuss the impact new evidence will have on our program strategies, and keep staff up-to-date with emerging trends in the reproductive-health field. Over time, Journal Club has evolved to a virtual event, held about six times a year, over the Elluminate Live! Platform provided through LINGOs membership.
While Ipas has staff in 14 countries, North Carolina-based staff have largely facilitated Journal club during its first years. However, over the past year or so, colleagues from our offices in the developing world have facilitated three of the journal clubs. We believe this is one way to decentralize knowledge sharing, build collegial relationships and increase interest in the journal clubs, while drawing on and highlighting the expertise of our staff around the world. So far, two sessions have been led by colleagues from Nigeria, and one session by a colleague in India.
Each of these sessions has been well received and well attended. Although we have not officially evaluated these sessions, informal feedback affirms that people appreciate hearing from country-based facilitators and enjoy the chance to interact internationally over Elluminate. Likewise, the three facilitators have reported satisfaction and pride in leading the sessions and are interested in doing it again.
• In one of the Nigeria-led sessions, the facilitator was unable to maintain an internet/Elluminate connection; the session moderator (in North Carolina) had to improvise and lead the discussion.
Always have a second person at a different site prepped and ready to lead the session in case there are connectivity issues.
• Staff members are busy and proper preparation for a journal club takes time.
Work with the country team’s management to ensure dedicated time for the facilitator to prepare and lead the session.
• Country-based staff members are not actively seeking to lead these sessions. This may be due to the time and workload issues, or lack of confidence with either the article’s content or the Elluminate technology.
Be intentional in matching content with potential facilitators and their context, or ask them to suggest articles.
Work with the country-based facilitator in prepping/editing slides for the session.
Have at least one person on the live session with moderator privileges to manage Elluminate so that the facilitator can focus on content.
Organize Elluminate sessions whenever visiting country offices for trouble shooting, modeling and practice.
• Because our global staff work in many different time zones, it is difficult to find a common time when every country office can participate.
Offer two sessions of the same journal club in order to accommodate various time zones. For example, we usually offer one session for the participants from the US, Latin America, and Africa, and then offer a second session which includes the US support staff, the presenter, and participants from Asia.
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].
As we discussed at our first Quarterly Update webinar on June 8 (click here for recording), the 2nd eLearning Global Giveback (GG2) is just kicking off this month. The first Global Giveback was a smashing success, and as an organization dedicated to learning, we learned a bit, and are making some adjustments to how we set it up for the second round.
1. The eLearning Community was ready to giveback in numbers of volunteers and hours of labor beyond our wildest imagination. This year, we ask volunteers to sign up and then member organizations that have posted a course to be developed will seek a volunteer. Last time, there were more volunteers than courses, and we lost the opportunity to contact some willing experts. We know there are more courses to be developed this year (including some that LINGOs itself plans to develop on project management, and onboarding for the LMS, for example). This way, we will have the volunteers’ contact information.
2. Longer timeframe: Last time, there was a scant two months for the courses to be developed. Many agencies with global staff, not to mention response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, were unable to get all the pieces and people together in that short timeframe. This time, we have longer. All courses completed for a LINGOs member organization between April 1 and December 17, 2010 are eligible for the eLearning Global Giveback Competition (this includes some that missed the 1st Giveback deadline).
3. More supporting information for Members and Volunteers: Our GG2 site (http://ngolearning.org/globalgiveback) has tabbed sections with information for Volunteers and for Members with links to resources (downloadable or on line). Please be sure that your volunteers are aware of the tools and resources that the Global Giveback Sponsors are generously making available to them.
Please instruct agency subject matter experts who are working directly with volunteers, to refer them to the resources and to the Clive Shepherd 60 Minute Master’s for Subject Experts (this course is coming soon to the LINGOs LMS… in the meantime, it’s on the web).
We’ve created an eLearning Global Giveback Community Group on LinkedIn. This group is independent of LINGOs and the eLearning Guild, and we encourage all participating in the Global Giveback to join in the group and share ideas, tips and resources. To discuss ideas for course topics to develop, please use the regular LINGOs group on LinkedIn as that site includes the broadest range of LINGOs members.
The First eLearning Global Giveback provided LINGOs members with over half a million dollars’ worth of customized eLearning for LINGOs member agencies. In the first round twelve member agencies took advantage of this resource. We’d like to double the number of agencies and courses developed in the second round… and even more importantly, we’d like to maximize the usage of the developed courses. The opportunity to participate is open to all LINGOs members in good standing. Self-paced courses developed for Level 1 member organizations will be posted on the shared portal and available to all Level 1 agencies. We strongly encourage Level 2 member organizations to share the courses developed for them with all LINGOs members. However, Level 2 agency administrators can load the courses directly onto their own portals.
How to get started:
Once you’ve decided on what course(s) you want to develop with a volunteer, your organization’s key contact to LINGOs should request a username and password for the “members only” section (contact membersupport(at)LINGOs.org). Post your course, and then look at the information on volunteers available. Volunteers will indicate the type of course content and specific interests when they sign up. Their detailed information is only available on the “members only” page. Look at the FAQs for members for more details. Join the LinkedIn group for the eLearning Global Giveback.
And feel free to contact me (marian[at]LINGOs.org) or Ana Raquel (AnaRaquel[at]LINGOs.org) with questions!
LINGOs is completing a series of conversations with key stakeholders from our member agencies. These discussions, formally entitled account reviews, are an opportunity for member agencies to reflect on their accomplishments in CY2008 and to outline their goals for cy2009. One of the observations coming out of these discussions is the large number of LINGOs agencies that are adopting rapid e-learning tools to develop custom e-learning content. Member agencies are developing courses on project management, fraud detection, GIS systems and development, orientation/induction, IT programs, grants management, staff safety, and much more.
As agencies increasing move in the direction of custom e-learning development, one of the learning curve challenges they face is how to ensure that their sound files are of consistently high quality. For anyone who has managed sound recordings previously, you know that sound is one of the most difficult elements when developing courses. All other elements of the course can approach perfection (design is well thought through, quiz questions reinforce the learning, navigation and style sheets are intuitive, images are appopriate, etc.) however, sound quality can suffer from any number of weaknesses. While I do not aspire for technical perfection in the work I do, there are any number of problems I have encountered when recording sound that have bothered me to the point of distraction:
- varying volume levels between slides;
- ambient noise;
- high-frequency humming;
- and… that general feeling that sound quality is “inconsistent” between slides.
That is why I was pleased to see that the learning designers at www.commoncraft.com had blogged on the topic of managing sound quality and I wanted to be sure to pass on some of the tips they provide in their post:
Consistency is the holy grail and until just recently, we had no way of creating a consistent sound. Now, thanks to some creative uses of bedding, we have our very own sound studio… … It’s tiny and stuffy, but it works quite well for us. It reminds me of building forts in the living room when I was a kid. Remember how the forts would get all stuffy? It’s same feeling… …
Hurray, I am not alone! It was good to see that my challenges when recording audio are common among even the best learning developers (FYI – I think CommonCraft is clearly among the best of learning designers and developers. There approach (visualization) is unusual, but highly engaging and effective. If you don’t know their work, be sure to visit their site. It is inspirational.)
It is good to know that there are some relatively simple, inexpensive, low-tech options to approximate studio-quality sound recording without paying for a studio.
BUT – truthfully, it I set up a tent made from bedding in my cubicle at my organization, management would probably ask me to take it down within minutes AND would then insist that I take a mental health day. That is why I also appreciated the suggestion in the comments section to the CommonCraft blog post that provided another alternative that does not require building a childhood fort structure from blankets and sheets: Alternatively, you can almost get the same quality by putting egg crate foam in the corner of a room, face into it, make adjustments to your gain/input, and get some decent results. You might be able to avoid the living room fort claustrophobia.
What about you? Do you have any experiences to share concerning developing audio files for iNGOs e-learning? Hardware? Software? Voice talent? Studio configurations? Let us know via the comments section below.
Those of you who know LINGOs will not be surprised when you hear us exclaim that “We Love Jing”
That said, the release of Jing Pro earlier this week has us rekindling our love affair with the tool. Yes, the JING screen capture software continues to be our choice for making quick screen recording videos that help us train users of new applications, document the user experience when troubleshooting, and generally providing narrated communications using PowerPoint or other screen applications.
So, what does JING Pro offer that is new and different? For a fee of $14.95 a year, JING Pro lets you:
- Record full-motion video from your screen
- Share faster with smaller video files
- Upload straight to YouTube (or upload manually elsewhere)
- Strip Jing logos & links from your videos
The ability to record full-motion video is especially intriguing. I have often envisioned a learning series that uses Skype video to conduct interviews with leaders in the field of international development, relief and conservation around the world. These videos could be recorded and posted to the web, providing easy access to viewers regardless of their location. With JING Pro, it now becomes a one-click operation to record that Skype video chat AND (if you choose.)