The Right Stuff… LINGOs 2013 Awards

Clockwise from upper left: ComputerWorld Honors Medal; Paige Layno Winn with FHI 360's Member of the Year Award; LINGOs Awards; Rising Stars Nick Walden (L) and Rich Peavy (R) with LINGOs CEO Eric Berg (Center).
Clockwise from upper left: ComputerWorld Honors Medal; Paige Layno Winn with FHI 360’s Member of the Year Award; LINGOs Awards; Rising Stars Nick Walden (L) and Rich Peavy (R) with LINGOs CEO Eric Berg (Center).

Among the fun and fabulousness at the LINGOs 2013 Member Meeting, we had the opportunity to recognize some rising stars and a member organization that is contributing above and beyond to the LINGOs learning consortium.

Originally formed to be a community of learning in 2005, LINGOs has grown and evolved.  As a reader of this blog, you’ve no doubt seen frequent posts on two initiatives that benefit our members, as well as the development/humanitarian community at large:

Our Project Services group works with development organizations to build capacity in project management, and provides innovative learning opportunities for individuals around the world to strengthen their skills and knowledge.

The Last Mile Learning initiative is providing world class learning at little or no cost – not just to our member organizations, but to ANYONE working to improve people’s lives in the developing world.  LINGOs members have access to all that is available to others, often before it’s released to the public.

Focus on LINGOs Members

The LINGOs 2013 member meeting was the ninth occasion at which LINGOs members have convened to network, share ideas and approaches and learn with and from one another. Over a third of our 76 member organizations from around the world sent representatives to the two-day event to take part in two dozen sessions hosted at PATH’s Washington, DC headquarters.

It was a wonderful occasion, and at the reception hosted at the offices of the National Democratic Institute, we recognized some key contributors to our learning community.

Rising Stars

LINGOs recognized two individuals each one new to the community stood out as exemplifying the ideals on which LINGOs was formed. Both work with organizations that have joined LINGOs in the past two years, and each has contribute to the community in ways large and small – serve on advisory committees, share what they are learning – spotlights on work in progress, espresso shots, share questions and concerns in LinkedIn… provide and share across the community.

Member of the year

LINGOs’ 2013 Member of the Year FHI 360 joined the LINGOs community three years ago, and has since undergone significant transition and growth. Paige Layno Winn, FHI 360 Senior Learning Officer and designated contact to LINGOs has played an extraordinary role and is more than a LINGOs star (maybe a sun).

“LINGOs recognizes FHI 360 as its 2013 Member of the Year not simply for using LINGOs resources well within their organization,” said LINGOs CEO Eric Berg. “Rather, the recognition is for sharing and giving back to the LINGOs community that includes 75 + international development organizations and the other organizations and individuals with whom LINGOs interacts via its Last Mile Learning initiative (www.LastMileLearning.org) and our Project Services groups.”

FHI 360 emulates the ideals of a learning community on which LINGOs was founded 9 years ago, and it is an honor to present the 2013 Member of the Year award to Paige Winn for FHI 360.

FHI360 shared its initial learning and process for deploying its LMS with other members in a blog post in January  2011. This relatively simple way to share knowledge and approach to deploying technology based learning, has benefitted the many organizations that have joined LINGOs since then.  In an early 2013 “Espresso shot” shared a great update on internal community building, that highlights use of resources they get through LINGOs and other low cost resource such as NING.

FHI 360 is clearly is deploying LINGOs resources well, as can be seen from its learning management system utilization reports in terms of the total number of staff registered and actively engaging in and completing self-paced courses, as well as participating in events.

Our Member of the year has tried out many member benefits, sometimes investing extra resources in getting more than what is available through LINGOs – such as we shared in the January Spotlight article.

Paige Winn recently guest blogged on its approach to building a virtual community of learning.

FHI 360 not only developed important resources through Global Giveback but shared with other LINGOs members, an award-winning resource that benefits any health worker working on HIV and TB prevention.

Also through the Global Giveback, FHI 360 created a harassment and discrimination course that, with minimal adaptation, is now available for the entire LINGOs and InsideNGO community, has shared its approaches to using the LINGOs-hosted LMS for events and reporting.

LINGOs Laureate Award Bestowed

Earlier this year,  in a LINGOs LINK Spotlight article, we reported that IDG’s Computerworld  Honors Program named LINGOs as a 2013 Laureate for its collaboration with Rustici Software  in the  creation of SCORM Dispatch. The annual award program honors visionary applications of information technology promoting positive social, economic and educational change.  Todd Slater, Director of the Technology Learning Center Director at The Nature Conservancy and LINGOs Board Member bestowed the ComputerWorld Honors Laureate medal on LINGOs’ Director of Technology, Robb Allen. Robb lead the work for LINGOs with Rustici Software that member organizations are now using to provide content from the LINGOs catalog to more than ten portals.

For more info on the meeting

Please view the Spotlight Report from the November 2013 LINGOs LINK.

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5 great resources to help your search for an LMS

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

 

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

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

1.       Start with your organization’s needs and requirements

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

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

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

2.       Talk to other LMS users and administrators

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

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

3.       Attend conferences and webinars

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

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

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

4.       Partner with your Information Technology Department

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

5.       Leverage the LMS vendors

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

SCORM Dispatch – First year of positive experiences

Posted by Robb Allen, LINGOs

July 19, 2011 marked the one-year production release of SCORM Dispatch.  If you’ve missed discussions about SCORM Dispatch over the past year, a little history regarding the driving force behind SCORM Dispatch might be helpful. This post provides an overview, and you can also read our August 2010 post on the topic.

LINGOs’ many course partners provide our members with an array of courses over whose content we must keep tight control.  We cannot simply provide our member agencies a full SCORM course package to install on an LMS not managed by LINGOs.  Therefore, up until the adoption of SCORM Dispatch, the only way for member agencies that wanted to access any of the courses in the LINGOs course library (one of the many benefits of being a member of LINGOs), was to use the LMS onto which we had installed the courses.

The LMS supplied as part of LINGOs membership meets the online learning needs for most of our members.  However, some of our member agencies — especially those that have matured past a one- or two-person training department — need features that aren’t available out-of-the box with the LINGOs-supplied LMS.  For example, custom on-the-fly reporting; single sign-on between an organization’s intranet and its LMS portal; and integration of human resource systems, talent management systems, and other systems with its LMS.   LINGOs is a small organization, the customization requests from member organizations were simply too numerous and complex for us to handle with a small IT department and would have been burdensome for the partner which provides our LMS.

Requirements Identified

We discussed this challenge with our member agencies at our October 2009 member meeting and sought a solution through which any member organization that needed features other than those available with the LINGOs-provided LMS could choose to install and manage on their end any LMS and still gain access to the courses in the LINGOs course library.  Our solution had to:

  • be LMS agnostic (as long as it is SCORM conformant), and
  • require little-to-no programming by LINGOs and our member agencies, and
  • ensure that LINGOs retained control of course packages and content to satisfy our partner relationships, and
  • ensure that LINGOs could shut off an individual course or entire set of courses for a single member or all members.

There were many other smaller must-haves in terms of reporting and tracking and quite a few nice-to-haves but the four items identified above were the most important to both member agencies and to LINGOs.

In November 2009, LINGOs contacted Rustici Software to discuss our needs and see if they had a solution.  True to their forward-thinking, the folks at Rustici Software were already working on product that sounded like it would meet our needs. They called it SCORM Cloud (we call it SCORM Dispatch).  We began working with them by test-driving the beta version and providing suggestions for improvement along the way.  In May 2010 we rolled out a beta test for our member organizations and in July 2010 released SCORM Dispatch into production.

Using SCORM Dispatch

We described how it works in our August 2010 post on SCORM Dispatch. Briefly, here’s the process a member agency must follow to use it.

Step 1: The agency goes through a testing period to ensure that its LMS and SCORM Dispatch are communicating properly. 

Step 2: Once the member is satisfied that SCORM Dispatch and its LMS are communicating properly, the member agency signs a license agreement to use SCORM Dispatch and identifies the courses it wants to access from the LINGOs course library.

Step 3: LINGOs sets up an account (destination) for the member in our production SCORM Dispatch environment and creates course packages (dispatches) tied to the member account. 

Step 4: The member installs each package on its LMS as it would any SCORM course created internally or purchased from a vendor. 

Step 5: The member agency staff members are informed about, can register and take courses as they would any other.  

LINGOs Member Experiences

SCORM Dispatch is indeed a welcome addition to LINGOs. The production roll-out and troubleshooting process in the first year have been almost error-free and we can’t say enough great things about the folks at Rustici Software.  As always, the LINGOs community provides great value to our members by sharing experience. Read on to learn about how two member agencies are using SCORM Dispatch.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has been using SCORM Dispatch in conjunction with Cornerstone on Demand since October 1, 2010.  Cornerstone on Demand has integrated talent management, performance, succession planning, career support, and learning (LMS) modules.  As CRS staff evaluated Cornerstone on Demand, they knew that they really couldn’t pursue implementation without maintaining access to the LINGOs course library which had been an incredibly valuable and well-utilized resource to support their staff.

SCORM Dispatch was a great option as CRS was ready to expand some of its learning programs.  CRS HR/Workforce Development staff were interested in rolling out curricula, targeting the audiences for certain offerings (by position, location, etc.) and minimizing the “high touch” in some areas (for example, providing automated emails and reminders to support staff in learning programs) to save that time for personalized support.  The team wanted to include levels 1, 2 and 3 evaluations with some CRS courses and programs.  In addition, they sought expanded reporting capabilities. CRS is using the Cornerstone on Demand LMS module to support face-to-face and blended events.  Staff can enroll online for a training or workshop and in some cases access pre-requisite e-learning, reading or assignments; take pre- and post- assessments; and then access an evaluation following the event.  Catholic Relief Services staffers around the world recognize the value in utilizing available resources to support their career development, to promote better knowledge management within the organization, to measure learning and look for evidence of impact in their training and learning programs.

Since the implementation of SCORM Dispatch, CRS’s workforce Development Team is pleased be able to link its competencies to learning options in the Cornerstone on Demand LMS module that staff members access through their online development plan.  While creating a development plan online, staff can review the competencies for their position, and with another click they can review some of the recommended options for supporting achievement of those competencies.  They can register and launch them directly from their development plan.  Additionally, Catholic Relief Services has enabled online CVs and career preferences that allow staff to express their career interests in the near and longer term, and to include details on their skills, experience, languages, etc.  Catholic Relief Services can use this information to ensure that its staffing pipeline is maintained for key positions.  In the future the information will also be used in emergencies or staffing situations for which CRS needs to quickly access skill sets, languages and availability to respond to a disaster or other rapid-onset staffing situation.

EngenderHealth has been using SCORM Dispatch in conjunction with Moodle since late June, 2011.  As part of its overall learning and development approach, EngenderHealth needed to offer a variety of eLearning resources including courses from the LINGOs catalog as well as in-house custom-created courses and training through a one-stop source, EngenderHealth’s Moodle LMS.

SCORM Dispatch provided an easy, seamless way to integrate the LINGOs courses into Moodle.  Together with their in-house courses, the LINGOs courses allow staff to expand their skills, knowledge and expertise in key areas, and ultimately enables EngenderHealth to achieve its mission.

EngenderHealth has received very positive feedback thus far.  They are already planning the next rollout with new course offerings and look forward to continuing to enhance the professional development of their staff.

What’s next?

Since the production release of SCORM Dispatch one year ago, LINGOs member agencies have launched nearly 4,300 course instances using Moodle, PeopleSoft Enterprise Learning Manager, and Cornerstone on Demand LMSes.  As three more member agencies are in the process of testing SCORM Dispatch with their chosen LMS, we expect this number to be much higher in another year.

Member agencies wishing to utilize SCORM Dispatch must be a Level 2 or Enterprise member of LINGOs.

For more information about SCORM Dispatch, please click here or contact Support (at) LINGOs.org.