Making Co-Creation Happen in 2016

A message from LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx about the 2016 LINGOs Co-Creation Agenda

Chris_ProulxTwo weeks ago at Heifer International, 100 learning professionals gathered at the LINGOs Global Learning Forum to engage, discuss, and share their ideas for how to continue to use learning to improve the effectiveness of organizations in the international development, humanitarian, conservation and social sectors.

As part of the conference, we facilitated an interactive brainstorming to identify the top priorities around which the LINGOs community could co-create new solutions in 2016. We invited participants to submit their ideas for projects that would make a difference to their organizations, make a difference to the sector, and have deliverables that could be created in 2016.

We are still looking for input from members of the community who could not join us the Global Learning Forum. You can provide us with your ideas for projects in the LINGOs Online Community.

So far, we have been reviewing and summarizing the input from the brainstorming session.  The top five priorities of the community so far are:

  1. Digital Badges: Credentials that transfer with employees from organization to organization mapped to a list of competencies with evidence the competencies have been retained.
  2. Professional Competency Frameworks: Shared competency model (80% solution) – with focus on tools/resources/guidance for implementation for your organization – for common key field positions.
  3. A Platform for Field Practitioners: Common knowledge/Tool/Sharing L&D platform with user-generated content and best practices organized around topics such as Environment, Economic, Poverty reduction, Health/public health, Agriculture, Food safety, Disaster relief, Gender, Civil society, Education, Water security, Sanitation, Technology.
  4. An Excellence in Leadership curriculum with certificate: Create a peer mentoring network among NGO senior leaders. Group existing courses into a cluster for organisation leadership (on and offline). Develop a learning path and a certificate aligned around core competencies.
  5. Marketing/Branding playbook for rolling out online learning: LMS marketing toolkit and do-it-yourself resources.

We are looking for your continued feedback, ideas, and suggestions for how your organization can contribute to any of these project priorities. The LINGOs staff is reviewing each of these highly ranked initiatives for which ones can be worked on in the coming year. We are considering factors such as: other related resources and initiatives in the sector, potential for reach and impact, existing resources within our member organizations, staff resources, and ability for quick wins. We will have more information before the end of the year on how to join working groups for 2016. Until then, keep sending us your ideas, feedback, and contributions.

LINGOs Announces its 2015 Global Learning Award Winners

cropped-smaller-2014-lingos-logo-white-with-tagline-website-size-smaller.jpgWinners of the 2015 Global Learning Awards were announced Wednesday at the Global Learning Forum in Little Rock, AR. The awards, presented annually, celebrate individuals and organizations that have significantly supported LINGOs’ mission: ensuring that its members and the NGO community at large have access to affordable, appropriate learning wherever they work.

Member of the Year: Heifer International

Partner of the Year: NetDimensions

Eric Berg LEAP Award: Vicki Aken, GOAL

Rising Star Award: Afia Asare, Opportunity International

Rising Star Award: Kimberli Jeter, PYXERA Global

Kimberli Jeter Named 2015 Rising Star Award Winner

KimberliFor 2015 Rising Star Award winner Kimberli Jeter, the conversation about learning and development quickly turns into a discussion about networks – between people, ideas, and the sum of their parts.

The Rising Star Award recognizes a new member of the LINGOs community who shares ideas, innovations, and best practices in support of the LINGOs vision and mission.

Kimberli, who is the Chief Learning and Partnerships Officer for PYXERA Global, works remotely from Colorado alongside teams based in Washington, D.C. and around the globe. She insists that as a learning professional, the distance can aid the final product.

In working remotely, she says, “you’re mindful of the fact that you’re serving a population you don’t get to interact with on a regular basis.”

It’s a distance that she shortens through technology and a steady curation of best practices – both of which form the heart of Kimberli’s work with PYXERA Global. There, she spearheads an initiative to provide staff with everything from information about PYXERA Global’s mission and projects as they onboard, to the courses they’ll need to master for their next promotion. To Kimberli, the success of the initiative “depends on our ability to understand the needs of the individual,” but developing the tools and programs takes a consideration of the collective.

To this end, Kimberli has leaned on the LINGOs community this year, the first since PYXERA Global joined. “Kimberli has been tasked with creating a learning strategy for a fast-growing NGO,” says Chris Proulx, CEO of LINGOs. “And when it came to LINGOs and what it could provide, she didn’t choose to take a year to get oriented, but instead has immediately jumped in and made connections within the community, asked questions, and has really worked with our team to employ the components of LINGOS that are most beneficial for PYXERA Global’s strategy.”

This includes collaborating with a working group of other member NGOs to develop “learning paths” from the array of courses available to the LINGOs community. She underscores that it’s a work in process – the group met in person for the first time at the Global Learning Forum – but it’s an important step for everyone using the new LINGOs Learning Platform. “We can build and lay out these tracks for people, so that…they can have a longer-term vision for their professional development,” she says. Training “doesn’t have to be ‘just-in-time.’”

For Kimberli, this tailored perspective on training dovetails with her experience so far in the LINGOs community. In LINGOs, she says, “you have different experiences, different perspectives, and different use cases. You can start to learn from others, create your own system…[and then] go back and contribute it to the community.”

About the Global Learning Awards

Presented annually at LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum, the Global Learning Awards celebrate individuals and organizations that have significantly supported LINGOs’ mission: ensuring that its members and the NGO community at large have access to affordable, appropriate learning wherever they work.

Afia Asare Named 2015 Rising Star Award Winner

AfiaFor 2015 Rising Star Award winner Afia Asare of Opportunity International, this year’s rollout of the LINGOs Learning Platform has been a demanding – but rewarding – project.

The Rising Star Award recognizes a new member of the LINGOs community who shares ideas, innovations, and best practices in support of the LINGOs vision and mission.

Afia, a Human Resources Assistant based at Opportunity’s Shared Services office in Accra, Ghana, wears many hats in her work, among which is the role of administrator for the Opportunity Learning Center, Opportunity’s online learning platform.

As administrator, Afia was deeply involved in the process of moving Opportunity’s learners to the new LINGOs Learning Platform this spring. And her methods for readying the learning platform to meet Opportunity’s needs were not so different from the same accessible learning she wants to provide for her learners.

Drawing on the support of her supervisors, the LINGOs community and learning found online, Afia gathered the tools to make the project happen. “I made sure that I attended LINGOs’ Office Hours,” she says, laughing. “I attended several meetings to learn best practices…I also used YouTube and the web to learn how to design in WordPress.”

Afia’s hard work paid off – the platform took shape. Now, Afia says, there are over 2,000 learners on the platform from 15 of the countries where Opportunity International works. She works with 15 administrators on the ground in those regions to continue optimizing Opportunity’s learning offerings to the needs of her learners.

About learning accessibility, Afia is firm. She says that these days, it isn’t about “just going to town to buy books. If you want to read, you can go online and search for whatever you want to learn…So I feel like [the new platform] is just bringing learning to the doorsteps of people. I feel very rewarded being in charge of a system like this, and working for Opportunity as a whole.”

“Afia took the initiative,” says Chris Proulx, LINGOs’ CEO. “She’s a great example of one of a few of our main member contacts who are in regional or field-based offices…and who are able to tap into the global LINGOs community to leverage the resources and best practices that can help them do their jobs that much more effectively.”

With the new LINGOs Learning Platform ready, Afia is setting her sights on expanding the learning offerings to more of Opportunity’s global staff.  That, and leveraging the tools that the new platform has to offer.

“One area that I want to explore is certificates,” she says. “In general, people want to be recognized. They want people to see what they’ve done – to have something to show.”

It’s a journey that begins with accessible learning, wherever it is that you are.

About the Global Learning Awards

Presented annually at LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum, the Global Learning Awards celebrate individuals and organizations that have significantly supported LINGOs’ mission: ensuring that its members and the NGO community at large have access to affordable, appropriate learning wherever they work.

NetDimensions named 2015 Partner of the Year

NetDimensions Logo 2014 verticalCongratulations to NetDimensions, which has been named LINGOs’ 2015 Partner of the Year! The award honors an organization that has shown a significant commitment to helping LINGOs deliver affordable, high-quality learning solutions to people and organizations working to improve lives in developing and vulnerable communities. Chris Pirie, LINGOs Board Chair and Microsoft’s General Manager of Field Readiness and Learning, presented the award to NetDimensions CEO Jay Shaw in a ceremony Wednesday night at the Global Learning Forum.

NetDimensions supports the LINGOs community with an innovative Learning Management System based on NetDimensions Learning. The technology, which NetDimensions provides to LINGOs at greatly reduced cost, gives LINGOs’ 80+ member non-profits and their collective 200,000 employees access to learning when and where they work—in over 140 countries.

The NetDimensions Learning Management System has allowed LINGOs to deliver a wide range of learning opportunities to its members, said Chris Proulx, LINGOs’ CEO. “In our first year of partnering with NetDimensions, we’ve just cherry-picked the set of features we knew would provide immediate benefit for the diversity of organizations that we serve. Yet at the same time, there’s a potential for us to really go deeper with the platform in the future. NetDimensions has been incredibly generous with their technology as well as their expertise to help build a common platform for over 80 organizations.”

NetDimensions is a member of the UN Global Compact, and has pledged to manage its business in accordance with the Global Compact’s Ten Principles of corporate sustainability. NetDimensions’ partnership with LINGOs is one aspect of this commitment to responsible business. “We want to have the opportunity to grow as a company, to give value to our shareholders, and to serve more clients,” says Michelle Sullivan, NetDimensions’ North American Marketing Director. “In turn, we also need to provide opportunities to organizations that are making the world a better place.” For NetDimensions’ CEO Jay Shaw, this means sharing learning opportunities through LINGOs: “NetDimensions is fully committed to building our relationship with LINGOs and helping to provide a learning technology that has an impact on the world.”

The effects of NetDimensions’ generosity are far-reaching. “Their corporate experience is at a global level – across multiple countries and languages, serving corporations with tens of thousands of employees,” Proulx said. “By partnering with NetDimensions we have a solution that can scale out to the 200,000 employees that our members represent and still have the scale to expand and grow.”

Congratulations, NetDimensions, and thank you for your continued support of LINGOs! We’re looking forward to another year of helping learners around the world maximize their impact through improved training and capacity building.

About the Global Learning Awards

Presented annually at LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum, the Global Learning Awards celebrate individuals and organizations that have significantly supported LINGOs’ mission: ensuring that its members and the NGO community at large have access to affordable, appropriate learning wherever they work.

Heifer International Named 2015 Member of the Year

heifer logoCongratulations to Heifer International, which has been named LINGOs’ 2015 Member of the Year! The annual award honors a LINGOs member organization that has demonstrated commitment to LINGOs’ mission:  providing affordable, high-quality learning solutions to those working to improve lives in developing and vulnerable communities. Chris Proulx, LINGOs’ CEO, presented the award to Hilary Haddigan, Holly Dunning and Tamidra Marable of Heifer International in a ceremony Wednesday night at the Global Learning Forum.

In a statement before the ceremony, Hilary Haddigan, Chief of Mission Effectiveness at Heifer, thanked LINGOs for the “recognition of the journey Heifer is on,” noting that it was an honor for Heifer to be in service to the communities where it works.

Heifer International, a longtime LINGOs member organization, is dedicated to ending hunger and poverty, and to caring for the Earth. In support of this mission, Heifer has worked closely with the LINGOs community to develop and share best practices for organizational learning and capacity building.

When a new Learning Management System was rolled out to the LINGOs community this year, Heifer consistently provided the community with its findings and solutions to shared challenges.

“The idea was to go through [the LMS rollout] together,” says Holly Dunning, Talent Development Manager at Heifer. “We were creating a lot of materials that we were sharing with the rest of the [LINGOs community]. We didn’t want to miss a second of it.”

In its push to build capacity across the organization, Heifer has also been a leading champion and adopter of PMD Pro, a training and professional certification designed for project managers in the development sector. Tamidra Marable, Talent Development Manager at Heifer, says that PMD Pro is “a central tool” in Heifer’s goal to help 4 million families achieve a living income by 2020, adding that as staff and partners are trained in the approach, everyone “gains a common taxonomy and understanding of our way of working.”

In short, it’s about collaboration – and strategy. Proulx calls Heifer International “a model organization in terms of linking business strategy to learning and performance improvement.”

For NGOs that are developing learning plans of their own, Proulx says that “the takeaway from Heifer is to align the learning activities that you’re doing with your organization’s specific business challenges or objectives. [Learning success] is about focus, more than it is about breadth and depth of resources.”

About the Global Learning Awards

Presented annually at LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum, the Global Learning Awards celebrate individuals and organizations that have significantly supported LINGOs’ mission: ensuring that its members and the NGO community at large have access to affordable, appropriate learning wherever they work.

Vicki Aken Named 2015 Eric Berg LEAP Award Winner

VIcki 3When it comes to humanitarian responses to the ongoing crisis in Syria, the risks to aid workers are beyond debate – bombings and kidnappings are frequent in the region. For Vicki Aken, Country Director at GOAL Syria, the danger can lead to the question of whether GOAL should be operating in Syria at all. But as she says, “if you put that same question to my staff inside Syria, they say, ‘How can we call ourselves a humanitarian organization if we don’t work in areas like this?’”

To a bystander, the task of professionally developing humanitarian staff in Syria can seem a luxury for later times, given the stakes. But with her team inside Syria 100% committed to the crisis response, Vicki sees it as her role to find ways to support them.

Vicki, who is currently based in Antakya, Turkey, said that although she has over 400 staff inside Syria, only seven people can cross the border point at a time. “We just have to figure out new ways of getting [our staff in Syria] training,” she said.

Vicki is the inaugural winner of the Eric Berg LEAP Award, named for LINGOs’ Co-Founder and CEO Emeritus. The award honors a leader in the learning and capacity building sector who has demonstrated a commitment to “leaping while trusting the net will appear” – an old maxim of Berg’s about not missing opportunities to make a difference.

Vicki’s commitment to field-based training and local capacity building has been long-standing, beginning with her work managing a community technology center in Tonga as a Peace Corps volunteer. In 2008, she developed a prototype online course for the Project Management for Development Professionals (PMD Pro) training, a professional certification that has now reached over 10,000 development and humanitarian workers in over 140 countries globally.

As GOAL’s Country Director in Sudan, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, and now Syria, Vicki has advocated for and disseminated a range of online and offline training to develop and build the capacity of the staff and partner organizations working most closely with communities—workers who don’t always receive access to world class learning. Of her dedication to developing staff in tough locations, Eric Berg, a longtime mentor of Vicki’s, says: “It’s not something you can toss off and say, ‘I could do that, too.’ I think it takes a different kind of person, and that’s one of the reasons I think so highly of Vicki.”

“Looking at Vicki’s current leadership role, it would be easy to offer reasons for why Syria is perhaps not place to invest in the human capital of her team—to take a more ‘fire fighting approach’,” said Chris Proulx, LINGOs’ CEO. “But Vicki is unwilling to accept that as a status quo. She’s continually finding creative, flexible ways to invest in her people – to professionally develop staff doing difficult work in a near impossible situation.”

Most recently, Vicki has spearheaded a number of capacity building projects in Syria—building the skills of local NGOs in one of the world’s most challenging crises. For example, she deployed innovative uses of technology such as Blackboard Collaborate to continue developing and remotely managing staff in Syria across the closed border.

It’s a familiar page from the private sector’s book, Vicki says. “[Organizations in the private sector] hire the best people no matter where they’re located, and they figure out how to work with them virtually. So why do we have to keep thinking about it as remote management? Why not think about it as just a different type of management?”

This ability to turn constraints into stepping stones resonates in her advice to young professionals looking to make their start in the sector. Touching briefly on her experience working with the Common Humanitarian Fund in Sudan, for which she eventually was an Advisory Board Member, Vicki says: “I had no idea how it worked, and when the [NGO I was with] was looking for someone to be the representative liaison with it, I volunteered to do it, because I figured that was the best way to [learn] how it works.” She laughs.

“To just start working with it and with the people who set it up – you have to be willing to do things like that.”

About the Global Learning Awards

Presented annually at LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum, the Global Learning Awards celebrate individuals and organizations that have significantly supported LINGOs’ mission: ensuring that its members and the NGO community at large have access to affordable, appropriate learning wherever they work.