Last Mile Learning Releases its first Learning Path: Project Management

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

For years, LINGOs member agencies have asked us, “How can we train our staff around the world on the contextualized Project Management skills promoted in the Guide to the PMD Pro?”  Well, here you are!!

As the new year gets under way, LINGOs is pleased to offer new series of seven Project Management courses ready for deployment.  These courses, which were developed in collaboration with PM4NGOs and Virginia Tech University, are the first of four learning paths that will be released by Last Mile Learning over the coming months.

As with all the courses made available to LINGOS members through the work of Last Mile Learning, the project management courses have the following unique features:

  • Multiple Languages:  Each course is available in multiple languages. Last Mile Learning courses will be available in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Note that this first release includes English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The French courses are coming soon.

  • Contextualized to the Development Sector:  Courses are contextualized for people working in international development, with examples, case studies, and images reflecting realities of this sector rather than of the corporate world.

  • Fully modifiable:  LINGOs member agencies who wish to update these courses need only ask LINGOs for the source files to the content.  Modules can be updated to include member agency logos, customized information about organization-specific project management processes, or any other unique text that a member agency would like to include. And, in the case of this learning path,

  • PMD Pro-Ready – The learning in this course sequence is fully aligned with the PM4NGOs newly revised Guide to the PMD Pro. An additional bonus for those who complete the Project Management Course Path is that they will be prepared for the PMD Pro Level 1 exam.

Courses Available in Learning Paths

The seven project management courses now available to LINGOs members comprise the first Learning Path that the Last Mile Learning team is developing.  Expect to see the second Learning Path, People Management, released in February.  Courses from the third and fourth learning paths (Self-Management and Team Management) will follow.

If you would like to learn more about Last Mile Learning, be sure to view Mike Culligan’s closing session at the LINGOs 2012 Member Meeting,  “Are You Ready for Last Mile Learning?”

Available to LINGOs members now

Course Path

Course Title

Languages   Available

(Jan   2013)

Project Management  Module 1: Introduction to Project Management  Eng, Span, Port
Project Management  Module 2: Project Identification & Design  Eng, Span, Port
Project Management  Module 3: Project Set Up  Eng, Span, Port
Project Management  Module 4: Project Planning  Eng, Span, Port
Project Management  Module 5: Project Implementation  Eng, Span, Port
Project Management  Module 6: Project Monitoring, Evaluation & Control  Eng, Span, Port
Project Management  Module 7: End of Project Transition  Eng, Span, Port
Project Management  Project Management Learning Path Assessment  Coming soon!

These courses are now available on the LINGOs catalog and Level 1 member portals. Level 2 and Enterprise Members who would like to add them to their portals should follow standard process as outlined on the LINGOs LMS Administrator Community site to request they be added.

I can’t end this post without expressing immense gratitude to the 100+ individual volunteers as well as academic and corporate teams of volunteers who have worked with us, to the leading LINGOs member agencies that have stepped up, and the leadership of Mike Culligan to transform content so that it can be deployed not just for LINGOs members, but also in coming months, for anyone who is working to improve lives in the developing world. Last Mile Learning will include appropriate content that is accessible in multiple formats and multiple languages, at little or no cost to a global audience.

For more information about Project Management, see:

For those who want to learn PMD Pro in a different learning format, please note that LINGOs is offering several 4-week, blended learning courses, similar to the PMD Pro course offered last fall. Registration is open for the Spanish-language course in February , and will open at the end of the month for an English language course scheduled for March. See Current Events on the LINGOs Member site for more information, including links to register.

 

For more on Last Mile Learning, see:

On the road from training to application: virtual coaching

Have you ever gone to a great course or workshop, been inspired by what you learned, and have every intention of putting your new knowledge into practice as soon as you got back to work?

Have you also experienced finding a mountain of work awaiting you after the inspiring course — and as you dive into catching up on that week away, you find yourself going back to your usual practices, and that you were unable to put what you learned into practice?

Have you been to the inspiring course, been able to summit the mountain of waiting work and had trouble explaining the new concepts to your colleagues and supervisors so that you can put the new practices in place?

Over the past two and a half years, LINGOs has deployed virtual coaching as an effective and cost-efficient performance support and learning transfer mechanism for global participants of the LINGOs Project Services learning programs.  We saw the need for performance support after the first very successful training courses in our work with World Vision’s Southern Africa Regional Program to build capacity in project management.

Knowledge & skills alone don’t lead to behavior change

We all know that knowledge and skills alone are insufficient to lead to a change in behavior –think of all the anti-smoking and “just say no” campaigns!  While the vast majority of participants successfully passed the PMD Pro 1 online exam, the leaders of the program initially saw relatively low application of the newly learned tools and approaches in the participants’ daily work.

While first piloted in Africa, we’ve done more virtual coaching in Latin America. “Coaching is a necessary complement to any training process,” said LINGOs Senior Facilitator Juan Manuel Palacios. “Without it, you can’t expect change — you can’t ensure transfer of knowledge, change in behavior or achievement of intended organizational outcomes.”

Coaching for performance support & learning transfer

Coaching is a widely-used performance support and learning transfer tool. It is a particularly good approach when participants are asked to develop an action plan at the end of their course work.

Traditional, in-person coaching involving high costs and time for both trainers and participants to travel to a central location was not an option, especially as much of the Project Management Training was offered through a blend of virtual classrooms and other on-line platforms. LINGOs began to offer virtual coaching as a strategy to give learners a chance to apply new skills and receive additional instruction and guidance when they came up against real-world challenges.

We built coaching into the Latin America work that we’re now completing with the GEPAL Project (Gestión en Administración de Proyectos en América Latina) with the Interamerican Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) and in additional project management capacity work we’re doing with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), ChildFund-Americas, Islamic Relief,  Mercy Corps,  Oxfam GB, PATH, as well as with World Vision.

Technology improving, but still a limiting factor in parts of Africa

“Technology is improving monthly in African cities,” said Roger Steele, LINGOs Senior Project Manager, who has led training efforts with World Vision, CRS and PATH in Africa.  “Virtual coaching is becoming a very viable option.”

Based on the circumstances of each training cohort, LINGOs has used various technological options for virtual coaching including,

  • Groups that trained in a face-to-face environment participating via World Vision’s HoTSpots in Southern Africa,
  •  Individuals in disparate locations logging into the same virtual classroom platform in which they received training online,
  • Participants connecting via Skype when their internet connections were unable to support connections to a virtual classroom.

Roger noted that “participants are often eager to join online sessions but technology access and literacy is still limited in places. Some participants got their first email account to be able to participate in virtual coaching after a face-to-face workshop.”

“At PATH sometimes our people gathered informally around one person with a computer with a good connection and speakers,” noted Julie Baker, Trainer and eLearning Developer, who has overseen the PATH effort to strengthen staff skills among 54 participants in Kenya and Tanzania.

In Latin America, internet access has not been a limiting factor. Through the GEPAL project, LINGOs and partner organizations trained to facilitate training and coaching sessions have found no significant barriers in Brazil, Panamá or Guatemala. However, participants in Paraguay on some occasions did have some connectivity difficulties accessing the sessions offered on the Blackboard Collaborate virtual classroom platform.

Multiple modalities same objective

In the African context, the coaching approach has been more formal. Starting about a month after training, taking the PMD Pro1 online exam and developing an action plan, participants have had the opportunity to engage in virtual coaching sessions. The sessions, held in the Blackboard Collaborate Virtual Classroom, have provided structured review of different tools and an opportunity to share concerns and questions, and to problem-solve ways to remove obstacles to using the tools.

“In one session, a participant shared her concern specifics of where to keep the project’s issues log,” said Julie Baker. “The group and coaches explored advantages and disadvantages of whether to keep it on a Sharepoint® site versus a local network; who puts the data in the document, and how to make it work day-to-day in that particular situation.”

In the Latin American experience in GEPAL, however, after the training, certification exam and action plans are complete, the groups that trained together start looking at project management tools in which the participants are interested in implementing in their organizations.  They’ve generally started with design, monitoring and evaluation tools. “One participant provides the coaches with a real project to use as case study for coaching,” said Juan Manuel.

Brazil coaching group develops proposal
Participants from AVAPE (The Association for Valuing Persons with Disabilities), had already identified stakeholders and needed to work specifically on the design of a project and develop a proposal (including a logical framework). During ten hours of coaching, the entire group built the logical framework with results, objectives, M&E indicators and assumptions to prepare a proposal for donor. In this case, the group of coaching participants included the project’s donor as well as a consulting group brought in to develop the proposal. Fun follow up fact, this proposal has been presented and will be funded for AVAPE to implement.
Panama plans project transitions
In the coaching we did with the Panamanian group, a participant provided a case where she was working on the project transition and sought coaching on how to build transition planning into the finished project.

Coaching on adapting to local reality

The follow-up coaching allows participants to gain insights into the adaptation of tools. “It provides an opportunity to reinforce learning and adapt tools to specific situations, gaining ideas and inputs from other participants who don’t know an organization as well,” according to Juan Manuel.

“Our Country Leader reports a big uptick in use of the RACI matrix,” said PATH’s Julie Baker. “There was lots of conversation in the coaching session on how to customize it, including additional columns to make it work even better for our reality.” She noted that the coach was able to share an example from another organization where they’d added a new column.

The final product of this learning process (from training to coaching) is to facilitate participants’ ability to apply tools in different contexts, for different projects. “After all,” said Juan Manuel, “you don’t need to have the tools in place when you start the project.  You can adapt the tools at any phase of during the life of the project.”

Coaching makes the difference

Perhaps the clearest case of the benefits of virtual coaching happened in Mozambique. LINGOs provided face to face training but between connectivity challenges and a lack of familiarity with standardized testing, none of the participants were able to successfully complete the online exam.

However, after a process of self-directed learning, Bento Guilovica sought personal coaching from Juan Manuel. “The coachee MUST be interested and motivated to learn,” pointed out Juan Manuel who provided 8-10 hours of virtual coaching via skype.  Bento went on to become a trainer of PMD Pro, who each day after delivering face to face training, was coached through his specific questions on tools and approaches. At the end of his first course, 70% of Bento’s students passed the PMD Pro exam.

Communities of practice

The virtual coaching sessions are creating networks of people using and adapting tools in the real world.  “The community of practice can be used for advice and, guidance on how individuals and organizations have adapted or used different tools,” said Juan Manuel.

PATH is preparing to explore additional ways to foster ongoing communities of practice around project management. Roger Steele noted that “a culture of online interaction will evolve and is improving.” There’s more learning to do in the area of strengthening virtual communities and exploring additional ways of coaching and performance support.

Readers are welcome to join the large and growing international community of practice, with over 2800 individuals interested in project management for development, via the open PM4NGOs group on LinkedIn.

Coaching process encourages participants to apply and share learning

When we went to the Training of Trainers course in PMDPro in Panama, I thought it would be just one more course…,” said José Salvador Aquino Manzo, Mercy Corps– Guatemala M&E Officer. However, the reality of a more comprehensive approach that included coaching is much more.

José Salvador was so inspired by the learning process that in record time, he recruited 40 fellow Mercy Corps staffers and program partners in Guatemala to go forward to strengthen Project management skills in PMD Pro.

 

For more on LINGOs Innovations in project management capacity building, please see

1.      Blended learning blog https://lingos.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/blended-approach/

2.      What’s project management got to do with international women’s day https://lingos.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/pm-training-_women/

3.      What’s your product  https://lingos.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/what%e2%80%99s-your-product/

4.      Are NGOs in Southern Africa ready for eLearning  https://lingos.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/are-ngos-in-southern-africa-region-ready-for-elearning/

 

LINGOs Offers 5-Week PMD Pro1 Certification Prep Course

International development agencies do great work. As John Cropper, Director of Project Services for LINGOs, pointed out in a blog post last year, the product of NGOs is projects!  Non-governmental organizations plan and implement projects to help transform communities and improve people’s lives in the developing world in fields ranging from agriculture to water and sanitation – with key topics like child nutrition, education, emergency response, health, housing, human trafficking, microfinance, natural resource conservation and peace building, to name just a few, in between.

LINGOs is pleased to announce that on September 18, we will open registration for a blended learning course in project management. The five-week course, open to all, is designed to meet the needs of any NGO project manager, program quality manager or supporting staff responsible for the creation and implementation of a development project, and who has access to a reliable internet connection. Participants who successfully complete the course will be prepared to take the PMD Pro1 exam.

At LINGOs, we’ve done a lot of work, especially in Africa and Latin America, helping NGOs build their capacity to better manage projects.  

Over the past few years:

  • The PMD Pro  (Project Management in Development Professional) Certifications were created, came online and were recognized. More than 3,000 people have taken the exams for the PMD Pro1 and PMD Pro2, with more than 2,200 becoming certified. 
  • Many agencies are working internally to build capacity, contracting with international training organizations such as InsideNGO and RedR, local training companies in Brasil, Guatemala, Haiti, Panama and Paraguay and LINGOs directly in countries from Albania to Zimbabwe, with most work being done in Africa and Latin America.
  • We’ve learned that blended and distance learning approaches not only allow a more diverse group of learners to participate, but also can be a highly effective means to lead to change and transfer of training into practice.

Participants in LINGOs’ 5-week blended learning program will spend approximately six hours per week in self-paced eLearning resources and in a virtual community of practice. Three hours will be spent in virtual classroom training and coaching, offered between 9:00 and 10:30am eastern US time on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Oct 16 through Nov 15, and three hours will be spent reading offline.

Several of LINGOs’ most experienced project management instructors,  John Cropper, Eric Berg and Roger Steele will facilitate the course. The course will be taught in English and the content is based on the PMD Pro1 Guide (free download available from www.pm4ngos.org).

Those interested may find more information and register for the course online. The course fee is $180 for staff from LINGOs member agencies and $225 for non-members. The fee includes all classes, access to all materials including self-paced modules and community site and private instructor coaching. Please note the course fee does not include the certification exam fee.

Upon completion of this course, all participants will be prepared to complete and pass the PMD Pro1 certification examination. The last session of the 5-week course will focus on applying the tools and techniques learned during the course in individual organizations. Throughout the course, time will be provided for coaching from instructors to clarify material and to review application of concepts.

Course Schedule

Week One     Tuesday, October 16- Introduction to Course and Technology

                    Thursday, October 18 – Overview of Project Management and Competencies

Week Two    Tuesday, October 23 – Project Identification and Design

                    Thursday, October 25 – Project Start-Up

Week Three  Tues, Oct 30 – Project Planning

                    Thurs, Nov 1 – Project Implementation

Week Four    Tues, Nov 6 – Monitoring and Evaluation

                    Thurs, Nov 8 – Project Transition

Week Five    Tues, Nov 13 – Certification Exam Preparation

Thurs, Nov 15 – Action Planning for Application in Individual Organizations Preparation

About PM4NGOs

PM4NGOs (Project Management for Non-Governmental Organisations) aims to optimize international NGO project investments by enabling project managers to be reflective, professional practitioners who learn, operate and adapt effectively in complex project environments. As a group of international relief, development and conservation organisations, PM4NGOs works together and collaborates with private sector companies, professional organizations and universities to achieve this goal. Visit www.pm4ngos.org/ to learn more.

About LINGOs

LINGOs is a not-for-profit consortium that focuses on enabling international humanitarian relief and development organizations to share their learning resources and experiences. LINGOs also engages Partner Organizations – companies and associations working in the field of technology assisted learning – to provide expert help and other support aimed at alleviating poverty around the world and effectively responding to emergencies. LINGOs Member and Partner Organizations include some of the biggest names in the non-profit and technology sectors, including Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, Care, Articulate, Blackboard Collaborate, Cegos, MindLeaders, eCornell, The eLearning Guild, TELL ME MORE and many more. Visit www.LINGOs.org to learn more.

Blended approach gets learning to where learners are

Posted by John Cropper, LINGOs Director of Project Services

Training and facilitating used to be so simple. The trainer would travel to a a pre-selected venue, participants would arrive, training was delivered and after a couple of happy sheets and usually a rather nice group meal and photo, everyone departed. Easy!

 

Old School Training…

The costs of this approach are huge. Apart from the travel costs, everyone would be in the training – not actually doing their normal work. So if you had a group of twenty five participants doing a five day course, you used one hundred and twenty five person days. Run two trainings like this in a year and factor in holidays and you would have used up the best part of a person year – and we all think we are understaffed!

LINGOs is all about learning where it really matters. So, to find a way round this, LINGOs has conducted a number of what we call blended trainings on Project Management  (the PMDPro certification)  We’ve tried several approaches and I’ll describe two of them here: First with World Vision International in Southern Africa and second with Oxfam GB in East Africa. The approaches have been different but in both cases, noone had to travel and participants were able to fit the learning around their other work commitments.

In the case of World Vision, we used a “hotspot” approach to ease connectivity challenges. A number of offices were chosen and World Vision made sure that each office had a USB speaker phone and a projector. One computer would be connected and participants would either look at a shared monitor or the screen would be projected onto a wall. Participants were given a clear timetable and instructions about what was expected of them. They had a program of reading through the PMDPro Guide, using the practice exam, webinars using Blackboard Collaborate, a ning social network where they could ask/answer questions and where we could post all the documents and finally there was an ‘instructor’s hour,’ when a facilitator would be online and participants could ask any questions on a one-to-one basis. Each course was scheduled over a two week period.

With Oxfam, we adopted a similar approach but it was much more extensive. The course had the same components but was designed to be taken over a 10 to 12 week period. Participants were advised that they would need to spend 3 to 4 hours each week. No one component was mandatory and they could spend their time on any of the different components. If the facilitator or the Oxfam sponsor thought that a participant was not engaging in any element, then s/he was not allowed to sit the PMDPro exam at the end of the course.

So what?

Well clearly, the blended approach is much more flexible and obviously more cost effective. One additional immediate benefit was a higher percentage of women participants – as described in an earlier post for International Woman’s Day. Interestingly results from the extended, Oxfam approach have been the best with an exam pass rate of 50%. Best of all was to see this post from the Tanzania Country Director, in which he noted his experience of “a case where training has created learning that has turned into change. There is improved quality of work and increased commitment to share one’s learning.”

Clearly this kind of approach can lead to skill transfer and application.

What learning is there from these pilots?

  1. Setting up a hotspot is a considerable investment in time and equipment – but once it is there, it can be used again and again. We have seen staff use the equipment for virtual meetings rather than travel – another great benefit.
  2.  In both cases, it is helpful to have champions and clear leadership – without buy in from the top, any training is more difficult. Participants need to have a clear structure and they need to understand what they are expected to do, when and why.
  3. Participant selection is as important as  managing expectations – participants need to commit to putting in the time over a two/three month period.
  4. The biggest learning I have taken from all this is simple. Blended learning can work and work well. One participant from Tanzania said in one of the webinars, “I need to leave now. I am in a village with no electricity using a 3G connection and the laptop battery is going.”

 I wish I had had a photo! When we think about virtual/remote learning – or whatever we want to call it, perhaps we should stop ask asking “why?” and start asking “why not!”

 

What’s Project Management Training Got to do with International Women’s Day?

Posted by John Cropper, LINGOs Director of Project Services

“It’s so great that you could do this training in Kotido (Northern Uganda) whenever there is any training, it is in Kampala and we can never go.”

A recent male partcipant said this to me after a PMDPro workshop in February (PMD Pro is the contextualised Project Management certification, developed with experts from several of the world’s best-known and highly regarded non-governmental organisations).

Downtown Kotido, Uganda, 2012. Photo: John Cropper

What this has to do with Internatonal Women’s Day is a very good question. Let me explain.

So much learning in NGOs is still focused on stopping all work, flying (often to another country), sitting in a hotel for week and then flying back. Guess who this training gets focused on?

That’s right – junior staff never get a look in. You need to be in some kind of “senior” category before it’s decided that you are important enough to be flown around and put up in a nice hotel somewhere – and who makes up the senior staff? You got it again – mostly men.

Yet, but and however – these senior staff are not actually the ones implementing projects on the ground! So, again and again we see the people who most need top boost project management skills through training being squeezed out. And given the realities in many countries (developed world included), when a woman is senior enough to be considered for training opportunities that involve travel – she may not be able to leave family responsibilities behind. Obstacles all the way.

This is why an initiative LINGOs is piloting with Oxfam GB in East Africa is so interesting. We are running PMDPro training in three countries: Uganda (hence the visit to Kotido), Ethiopia and Tanzania.

  • Uganda gets traditional NGO learning. Trainer rocks up, training happens, trainer leaves and application of learning to actual projects is in the hands of the Gods.
  • Ethiopia gets face-to-face training plus virtual learning – let’s see what difference this makes to application.
  • Tanzania is by the far the most interesting as the approach will be both 100% virtual and take 3 hours per week – so people can fit learning in around their other commitments.

This is where it gets interesting. In Uganda, 20% of partcipants were women. In Ethiopia, 32% were women (teams travelled to Addis for the training). In Tanzania, we will have just over 50% female partcipants. To be fair, Oxfam is still finalising the participant list – but what a difference!

So,  if your agency really values women: plan to  cut back on the travel, reduce your  carbon footprint and subsidies to the airlines, expand your focus from train on senior managers and start virtual learning! PMD Pro – just do it! – but do it virtually wherever possible! Take a first step on March 8.

More LINGOs blogs will follow up on this really interesting experiment.

     

For More information on PMD Pro

See what’s happening with PM work in Latin America – virtually and face to face through the Gepal Project

Watch the Gepal Video

 

What’s your product?

Posted by John Cropper, LINGOs Director of Project Management Services

Whenever I ask NGO staff this sort of question, I usually get answers like, “safe and healthy children” or “peaceful communities.” Advanced practitioners may even manage something like “gender sensitive enhanced livelihoods.”  OK – I admit to being facetious – but my point is serious. These are not the “products” of an NGO. If you buy a car, you don’t describe in terms of a safe and trouble free journey. You describe it as a car. NGO work and projects have many positive and planned outcomes – but the product, the vehicle of achieving these outcomes is the project.

I think this ambiguity is symptomatic. NGOs talk about the importance of project management but project management is not treated as a profession within NGOs. Job descriptions for a Project Managers list a raft of technical competencies – but have just one line saying “project management experience” for what should be the core skill. Imagine if you took an experienced project manager from (say) an IT firm and gave him (or her) a job as the country gender specialist. If you then compounded this by not having any organizational standards or training, but just told him not to worry as he would, “pick it up”, there would be outrage. Yet we do this with project managers. We hire specialists in agriculture or WASH or whatever and then tell them to manage projects – no training, no standards … and no reaction, much less outrage.

But…we have project cycle management (this can be said in hushed and suitably reverent terms, if preferred). And so probably do you. Unfortunately, most organizational guidelines on PCM are not about project management. They focus on project design – Logframes and monitoring and evaluation, etc. There is nothing wrong with this at all. Project management, however is much more than this.

Starting in 2007, LINGOs convened a group of NGO staff to help look at project management in the sector. This led to PMDPro – the first certification in NGO project management. The materials are free and available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French at: http://ngolearning.org/pm4ngos/pages/PMD%20Pro1%20Prep.aspx

There is also a free practice exam. Log on and see how you do! We have tried to stick the three principles as we developed this: Accessible (online); Appropriate (contextualised for our sector) and Affordable (certification costs US$20/pax for local NGO staff through to US120/pax for HQ staff).

What we tried to do was merge best practice from our sector – project identification and design and monitoring and evaluation – with best practice from the profession of project management – project initiation, project governance, project planning and implementation.  We have tried to develop a framework that takes into account how our sector works but link this to best practice and over 30 years of work and research in project management.

Ask your colleagues how many projects are late, overspent or underspent? Ask your beneficiaries what they think? Just think what a difference we could make if we could achieve a 5% increase in effectiveness and efficiency.

If you would like to learn more, please register to join us in a webinar on June 2nd.

LINGOs Community Grateful for Highly Skilled Volunteers

By Eric Berg, Executive Director, LINGOs

 One of the founding principles of LINGOs was to provide a community of like-minded individuals who could come together to make learning experiences more accessible to staff and partners working in the developing world.  Our members are a large part of that community, our private sector partners who contribute their products and services with the goal of enhancing Learning Where it Really Matters are also part of that community. A third and essential part of the LINGOs community are our volunteers. In honor of National Volunteer Appreciation week and on behalf of all LINGOs members I want to express our gratitude for the volunteers who not only have served LINGOs in the past year, but also those who have volunteered through LINGOs directly with our member organizations.

One of the unique characteristics of LINGOs volunteers is they are able to use their highest skills to contribute to the work of LINGOs and its members. In the past, volunteers were often asked to do tasks that needed to be done like answering phones, processing mail and all kinds of physical labor. However, these were not tasks that exploited the unique professional skills that many volunteers often brought to the work.  While occasionally someone with accounting or legal or marketing skills were used in those areas, for the most part, volunteers simply were viewed as surplus labor.

The volunteers we speak with are eager to be a part of the work LINGOs and its members do in the developing world to build the skills of field-based staff. While most are not able to take time off and travel to these far-away places, they would still like to know that their contribution is making a difference in the field. Fortunately, there is much that needs to be done that can be completed remotely without ever leaving home or office. 

In the past two years through the LINGOs/eLearning Guild eLearning Global Giveback program, over 50 courses have been created by more than 100 volunteer instructional designers, developers and learning professionals. These course have been taken by people around the world and the work of the volunteers is being felt in remote parts of the globe.

In addition to the outstanding Global Giveback Volunteers (179 who signed up for GG2 and the 150+ eLearning developers, instructional designers and gamers who are on the eLearning Global Giveback Group on LinkedIn),  many other volunteers have shared their expertise, advice and time with LINGOs and its members this year.

In the past few months alone LINGOs itself has benefitted from:

Instructional Technology graduate students who have interned with LINGOs on projects, from assessing the need and support for a contextualized curriculum for blended and eLearning for NGOs to helping  define the learning objectives and develop the examination question for the PMD Pro certification– we thank Jennifer May and Jenny McAtee from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Sharing marketing knowledge, skill and expertise to help us build our own capacity to clarify and communicate what LINGOs has to offer to potential members, partners and other volunteers – we are grateful to Bryce Johannes.

Facilitating the identification of needs, processes and resources to update LINGOs’ web architecture, to help us better serve our existing members, our potential members and their global staff, to engage partners and volunteers, we thank Celia Bohle, Kevin Kussman and Bryce Johannes.

Introducing us to potential partners, serving as a strategic advisor to a new and relatively small organization, building templates that will be of use to many new members, we thank Ruth Kustoff.

For providing his engaging and interactive virtual classroom training to build the capacity of over 400 humanitarian relief, international development, social justice and conservation workers from the staff of our member organizations so that they can design and deliver engaging virtual classroom training, we are grateful to Greg Davis.

For reviewing and juding the eLearning Global Giveback competition this year, we thank Jane BozarthGreg Davis,   Linda EnglishJane HartJim KlaasPatti Shank, and  Roger Steele.

The individual and corporate Instructional designers, eLearning developers who participated in the eLearning Global Giveback not only contributed the courses they developed, but also mentored and coached individuals and organizations to build their capacity to create their own courses in the future. Many of these courses will benefit not only the global staff of the organizations that received them, but the global staff of other LINGOs member agencies (probably well over 100,000 international development, relief, conservation and social justice workers), but in some cases, such as Amanda Warner’s winning course for ACCION and the Smart Campaign, will benefit anyone working in microfinance.

We are indeed fortunate to have had so many volunteers give LINGOs and our members this tremendous gift of time, expertise and service.

Are NGOs in Southern Africa Region ready for eLearning?

Guest Post by Roger Steele, LINGOs

I answered with a resounding ‘yes’ when I was asked that question about six months ago — perhaps a bit too enthusiastically.  At the time, I had just started managing the LINGOs project to ‘Strengthen Project Management Capacities’ in collaboration with World Vision International’s (WVI) Southern Africa Region. (For background on LINGOs work in cross-cutting area that affects every member NGO, please see the blog post on Field staff capacity building models)

With almost a dozen week-long PMD Pro1 introductory courses under my belt, I still say ‘yes’ – but – you might sense some hesitation in my voice (check out http://pm4ngos.org if you don’t know what PMD Pro is).  Not totally unexpectedly, we have encountered challenges on our eLearning journey.

As I shared here back in September of last year,   the World Vision/LINGOs project has embraced a blended learning approach.  We decided to lead with a combination of face to face and virtual instructor-led courses.  The future blend will incorporate more self-paced learning, small group (hubs of training) and coaching (performance support).  I’ve written about the face to face (F2F) courses in this blog.

Our face to face instructor-led courses have been conducted over a period of 5 days. Each course is delivered in a fairly typical NGO format for the first four days. The facilitators combine techniques to engage participants in active learning to complement lectures that introduce fundamentals of Project Management for International Development.  On the fifth day, Friday, facilitators proctor an internet-based examination that presents 75 multiple-choice questions to each participant. The set of questions has been carefully validated and normed to measure knowledge and comprehension contained in the PMD Pro1 Guide.  A unique feature is that each exam is automatically computer-scored.  Each test-taker is given his/her score and pass-fail result immediately upon exiting the exam.  I was a little surprised that this feature proved so popular with participants.  They love  getting immediate results.

 So far, our team has facilitated the face to face PMD Pro1 courses in five WVI Southern Africa countries: Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, DR Congo, and Malawi.  Without fail, we have encountered significant eLearning challenges during the examination on the fifth day, of the each and every course.

PMD Pro1 Course participant with Roger in Zambia

These Friday problems have always happened in spite of the fact that our team works hand-in-hand with the WVI National Offices to secure reliable Internet connectivity.  In Zambia, our first pilot country, one hotel in Lusaka has hosted all three PMD Pro1 courses over the past nine months.  At the first course, the hotel proved incapable of providing sufficient Internet bandwidth, so the IT office from WVI-Zambia arranged for a dedicated connection from an internet service provider (ISP).  The ISP ran their wires down from the hotel roof and through hallways to our classroom.  Even with that dedicated line, the internet connection dropped numerous times during the exam period causing several test-takers to time-out prior to exam completion.  During the second and third Zambia courses, the host hotel’s internet provider agreed to increase bandwidth on the morning of the exam – but we still experienced connectivity problems and exam delays.  We recently secured approval from the testing authority to increase the total block time from 1.5 to 3 hours as a mitigation strategy for future exams.

 The venue of the one course we completed in Malawi was a relatively isolated hotel on the shores of Lake Malawi.  While the hotel had assured WV-Malawi that a strong and reliable Internet connection would be available all week, the reality was another story.   The hotel’s internet signal was very weak and did not even reach the training room.  Fortunately, the WV Malawi IT department came to the rescue by mid-week.  They were able to set-up a portable satellite Internet system (VSAT) next to the PMD Pro1 classroom – allowing all 23 program managers to successfully complete the examination on Friday.

two participants taking practice exam

I suppose some will say that what I’ve describe sounds quite expensive – and the special Internet arrangements that I’ve described will be beyond the budgets of many NGOs.  I acknowledge this concern, but encourage readers to keep in mind that WVI and LINGOs are operating learning pilots and expect to cultivate efficiencies moving forward. 

In Harare, the WVI-Zimbabwe office hired an Internet Service Provider to set up a fiber-optic connection at a hotel for an estimated US$1400 (5 days).  I had sticker-shock when I first heard this quote – but upon reflection realized that those costs must be put into perspective.  It is significant to keep in mind that 33 WVI program managers were trained and certified during that week.   The cost of Internet could be incrementally assigned to each participant at the rate of US$42 – an amount that was considerably less than what some participants paid for a single night of lodging during the course.  I wish I could report that the fiber optic line we used in Zimbabwe worked trouble-free.  However, after enjoying blazing internet speeds from Monday through Thursday, a scheduled power grid shutdown brought the internet to a total halt for the whole of Friday morning.  Fortunately, the national power grid was restored and the Internet-based exam was completed by late Friday afternoon.

I’m sure some are asking; wouldn’t it be quicker and cheaper to administer a paper-and-pencil examination?  Perhaps it would be in the short-run — but once PMD Pro gets past its pilot phase, LINGOs is expecting scale-up to create efficiencies for both internet instruction and testing.   I recently discovered that a group of researchers have been actively investigating online versus paper exams, with some interesting findings that extend well beyond time and cost considerations.   Check out:  http://research.csc.ncsu.edu/efg/teaching/papers/2010-1150_Online.pdf  

 I’ll write about my experience facilitating the PMD Pro1 course with WVI participants in the Southern Africa Region using the Elluminate platform in a future blog. 

 You might also be interested in these 2010 posts about LINGOs Project Management Work

 Sept 2010: Participation and accountability in face to face training: Lessons from Southern Africa   

October 2010:  Field Staff Capacity Building Models for National and International NGOs” the 4As

 October 2010: PM4NGOs Launched as Independent Organization to Promote Project Management in the Development Sector  

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

PM4NGOs Launched as Independent Organization to Promote Project Management in Development Sector

PM4NGOs Launched as Independent Organization to Promote Project Management in Development Sector – Elects First Board of Directors

In September 2010, Project Management for Non Governmental Organizations (PM4NGOs), a new international NGO, was born and held its inaugural Board of Directors meeting at InterAction in Washington, DC, USA. PM4NGOs began as an initiative to promote the use of professional project management methods in the development sector.

Since 2007, a group of humanitarian relief and development organizations including World Vision, Care, Catholic Relief Services, Oxfam, Mercy Corps and Plan International have been working together with the prominent professional societies in the field and with LINGOs, a consortium of NGOs focused on sharing learning resources and experiences to improve the capacity of NGOs operating in the developing world. Over the past three years they have designed a curriculum, tested it in over 30 countries with over 200 field-based project managers from fifteen different organizations.  Most recently a curriculum has been translated into an independently accredited certification scheme with the help of the APMGroup International in the United Kingdom.

PMD Pro Certification leads to need for independent accrediting body
The Project Management in Development Professional (PMD Pro) certification was launched in early in 2010 creating the need for an independent accrediting body. While PM4NGOs had operated as an initiative of LINGOs for the past three years, the creation of an independent organization was necessary to maintain the integrity of the standard and its independence from any single organization. Recognizing that need, the LINGOs Board of Directors asked that PM4NGOs become a separate entity and LINGOs transferred all intellectual property related to the PMD Pro certification scheme to the new organization.

The founding board members represent international humanitarian relief and development organizations, organizations that provide training services to those agencies, and members of professional societies including the Project Management Institute, the International Project Management Association and Prince2 practitioners.  Vadim Usvitsky, Director of Special Projects at World Vision International was elected the Chairman of the Board. Other officers included Trevor K. Nelson of Nelson Project Consulting, Leah Radstone of APMGroup and Barbara Wallace of InterAction.

Board Members include Eric Verzuh, CEO of the Versatile Company, a Registered Education Provider of PMI, Martin McCann, CEO of RedR, Mike Culligan, Director of Technology and Projects, LINGOs, David Palasits, Manager of Staff Development and training for Catholic Relief Services, Steve Marks, Director of Project Performance Consulting Ltd., and John Cropper, Program Manager for Oxfam.

 

From Left: John Cropper – Oxfam, Vadim Usvitsky- WVI, Ernesto Mondelo- Inter American Development Bank, Eric Verzuh-Versatile Company, Barbara Wallace-InterAction, David Palasits- Catholic Relief Services, Leah Radstone-AMPG International, Mike Culligan-LINGOs

 “A very important role of PM4NGOs is to make certain that access to the new certification is broad and the price affordable” said Vadim Usvitsky, Board Chair. “We work in an environment where professional credentials are very important but not often available. We want to make sure the PMD Pro reaches all project managers that are interested.”

The PMD Pro certification has three levels as illustrated by the triangle above. What makes the certification unique is that it incorporates other commercial certifications into the requirements for PMD Pro2 and PMD Pro3. Decades of work has gone into the project management methods used in the private sector and it was decided that rather than duplicate that effort, PMD Pro would take advantage of all the tools and techniques that had been developed over the years. In addition, candidates are required to master and pass an additional examination demonstrating the application of project management to the development sector.

LINGOs provides project management capacity building for NGO sector in Southern Africa, Haiti and Latin AmericaBy launching PM4NGOs as a separate organization, LINGOs has become a source of project management capacity building efforts by organizations in the sector. The Inter American Development Bank (IDB) has asked LINGOs to be the Executing Agency to develop the project management skills of NGOs in Guatemala, Panama, Brazil and Paraguay.  A second initiative between LINGOs and IDB targets the IDB funded local NGOs in Haiti. Both projects will reply be based on the PMD Pro1 curriculum and include training, coaching, community building and ongoing online learning opportunities.

A similar collaboration is underway in nine countries that make up World Vision International – Southern Africa Region. The Strengthening Project Management in WVI-SAR will train over 500 field-based project managers and over 25 trainers to carry the training program throughout WVI-SAR and to local implementing partners.

PMD Pro1 learning resources availableWhile the projects above are designed for specific countries and organizations, anyone interested in earning the PMD Pro1 can do so immediately. On the PM4NGOs website (www.pm4ngos.org) there are links to recorded modules covering all the content of PMD Pro 1. The Guide to the PMD Pro1 and the Syllabus can be downloaded free of charge and there are links to a sample examination so individuals can test their readiness to take the certification exam. Details about how to register for the examination and the costs can also be found on the site.

For more information on the certification, upcoming training programs and the schedule for PMD Pro2 and PMD Pro 3, contact Mike Culligan by email: mike (at) LINGOs.org.