Social Learning: A Case Study from Syria

Mike Culligan

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.

eLearning Guild Benefits

Ben K.

Learning Solutions conference experience and other eLearning Guild benefits
y Ben Kocarnik, Online Learning Coordinator, Mercy Corps

Being a member of the LINGOs community has a variety of benefits. One benefit that I find increasingly useful is our premium membership with the eLearning Guild. This premium membership includes a free entrance to one of their five major conferences each year. For the first time, I was able to take advantage of this benefit and I highly recommend it.

Last week, I attended the Learning Solutions and Ecosystem conference in Orlando, Florida, USA. This conference provided an opportunity to discover new technologies impacting the learning field, experience new ways to design and deliver content, and engage with peers in the learning field.

It was amazing how much knowledge could be packed into two and a half days! Some of my favorite sessions included tips and shortcuts for Articulate Storyline 2; ways to combine Agile, Lean, and User-Centered Design in selecting an LMS; a forum around developing communities; and how brain science can impact the learner’s retention of training (see attached handouts from some of these presentations).

I even leveraged our one free pre-conference certificate a year for premium members to learn more about “Building business skills to empower the training function.” This certificate provided useful insight on how to achieve internal buy-in for training, especially from your business leaders.

On top of these learning opportunities, the community at the conference proved to be quite vibrant. It was a great opportunity to meet and discuss online learning experiences with others. I found many of my conversations helped validate some of the work I am doing, while also providing me with other ideas to try.

The LINGOs community had a great showing as well, holding down a prominent booth in the main hall and attracting lots of attention with their bracelets from Guatemala. I must say grabbing dinner with several LINGOs members in Downtown Disney was definitely a good time and highly recommended!

Beyond the conference itself, having a premium membership also allows access to all the content on the eLearning Guild website. This includes articles, white papers, research, and forums on everything related to learning.  Their website makes it easy to filter by sources and/or topics to find what you need. I have found their white papers and eBooks particularly helpful in my work at Mercy Corps.

All in all, I am extremely grateful to be a premium member of the eLearning Guild and attend such an outstanding conference.  As a bit of a newcomer to the field of online learning, this membership has been valuable for me to quickly get up to speed, as well as see where the online learning field is heading. If you haven’t already, I definitely encourage you to start leveraging your premium eLearning Guild membership–both the online content and the in-person conferences. I believe it will truly help you in making a difference in where you work!

Three Ways Last Mile Learning Makes Your Organizational Learning More Strategic

Posted by Mike Culligan, LINGOs

Much of the interest surrounding LINGOs’ Last Mile Learning program has focused on its availability to any individual and/or organizations working in the development and relief sector worldwide.  For the first time, everyone working to improve the lives of the world’s poorest communities will have access to world-class courses at no cost.

What has been less explored, however, are the innovative ways that the Last Mile Learning will help LINGOs member agencies implement a strategic learning strategy.  Last Mile Learning will make this possible through three unique innovations:

1. Learning Tracks:  One challenge with the existing LINGOs resources is identifying which courses most appropriately address specific  learning needs.  To address this challenge, the Last Mile Learning Library is organized into Strategic Learning Tracks. 

The learning tracks allow learners to identify courses by comparing the contents of track to criteria such as job family, areas of weakness, and professional development objectives.  Furthermore, managers can work with their teams to identify personal development plans that leverage the resources made available through Last Mile Learning.

This year, the initiative will build out four learning tracks: Self-management, Team management, Strategic Management and Project Management.  Plans are currently underway to develop content in additional learning tracks including Information Technology, Small Enterprise Development and more. 

                                           Initial Learning Tracks


Team Management

Strategic Management

Project Management

New Manager Transitions

Team Management

Change Management

Identification and Design



Strategy Execution


Meeting Management

Performance Management

Leading & Motivating


Presentation Skills


Team Leadership


Managing Others

Difficult Interactions


End of Project Transition

Stress Management

Conflict Management

Influencing Skills

Monitoring, Evaluation & Control


2. Certificates:  When learners complete the series of courses that comprises a learning track, they have the option to access an assessment that tests their knowledge of the learning objectives for the courses in the learning track.  For example, upon completion of the six project management courses in the Project Management Learning Track, learners will be able to access a 75-question examination to receive a Last Mile Learning certificate for Project Management.   

3. Multiple Course Formats:  Each course will include four deployment formats that accommodate multiple learner scenarios, including online, face-to-face and blended formats.  That means that the Last Mile Learning resources are not just about eLearning, but also serve the needs of all the staff in an organization who are trained/experienced facilitators. 

Experienced facilitators are often a limited resource, invaluable to an organization – especially if the facilitator is comfortable in both the face-to-face and on-line contexts.  Last Mile Learning will provide these facilitators with dozens of course titles that can be immediately made available for use. 

Alone, each innovation provides a level of resource previously unavailable to LINGOs member agencies. Together, however, they provide the building blocks from which organizations can build a more strategic learning strategy. 

We look forward to sharing more information and answering your questions  about Last Mile Learning at an interactive webinar on June 6. Register to join us!

Eventbrite - Last Mile Learning Webinar June 6, 2012