Take the Survey: How Does Your Organization Learn at Work?

LINGOs logoA recent survey by Jane Hart asked her blog readers to rate 10 different ways they learn at work.   As you can see here, the results of the survey are provocative, and challenging to Learning and Development (L&D) teams.  However, her results likely don’t represent the reality of the learners we serve in the development, relief and conservation sectors.  While 3,500 readers responded to the survey, very few were from the global South and over 50% of the respondents worked in HR/L&D.

So, let’s explore the different ways that development, relief and conservation workers learn!

Please share the link to this brief survey with your learners around the world.  We want to know how learners in your organization rate 10 different ways they learn at work.  We will keep the survey open for one month, and results will be published in the next LINGOs newsletter.  We will then use the data to:

  • inform a series of articles that outline the challenges of the new world of learning
  • identify models to evolve the traditional role of L&D teams, and
  • introduce LINGOs resources that help address the new realities of learning in the workplace.

Please share the link to the survey widely and often!  The URL is:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CYNVVSK

If you’re interested in learning more about the resources available to NGOs through LINGOs, sign up for our monthly newsletter here.

NGO Learning: It’s time for greater coopetition

Guest post by LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx

Adapted from my presentation at an NGO sector meeting of learning and development professionals on May 11, 2015 in London, hosted by Plan International.

Chris_Proulx“Often coopetition takes place when companies that are in the same market work together in the exploration of knowledge and research of new products, at the same time that they compete for market-share of their products and in the exploitation of the knowledge created.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coopetition

A clue to one of the greatest challenges in providing learning opportunities for the NGO sector lies in the phrase NGO sector.

Although NGOs might be bound together by the common goal of development, this can take a number of forms, and in reality many of us are doing dramatically different kinds of work. In fact, NGOs dedicated variously to microfinance, health care, and conservation might have more needs in common with the private sector or government agencies doing similar work than with each other. Yet, many in learning and development roles for NGOs look to each other as peers rather than from related fields in other sectors. Why?

What ties the NGO sector together, when it comes to the learning we deliver to customers and employees?

For many in the sector, some version of the following statements apply:

  1. We’re charged with delivering learning to a global population in multiple languages
  2. who are working in challenging (often crisis) environments
  3. who are physically and virtually difficult to access and to connect
  4. and we are trying to do with constrained resources.

In the face of these challenges, and the larger macro environmental changes impacting our organizations, how can we as a community effectively deliver learning and development in our sector?

The pie chart below shows recent data from the LINGOs’ learning platform on the types of courses completed by our 80+ member organizations. Over half of the courses completed were proprietary courses, developed by our members for use within their own organizations. While a variety of courses were available for shared audiences, they were less enrolled than their proprietary counterparts. In an environment of constrained resources, this data is a red flag that we may be missing opportunities for valuable shared investments and co-creation.

I am proposing a new 70/20/10 model, not for our learners, but for us a professional community.

70% | Common Curricula and Credentials

To best aid learners, as well as maximize resources, we should be spending the majority of our time developing common competencies and curricula—built around the skills and contexts that most organizations share. One example of common curricula already thriving in the NGO sector is the PMD Pro project management credential authored by a working group of NGO sector experts, so the body of knowledge would be created by and for the sector. Designed to be a common standard for how projects are managed in the NGO sector – providing a common vocabulary and framework – PMD Pro is a truly collaborative effort that’s reached over 10,000 development professionals in just five years—over 80% of them in the developing world.

20% | Shared Innovations

The “20%” piece, for us, should be shared innovations. Some of our greatest barriers to providing learning are issues of access – physical or virtual. While learning technologies are evolving at exponential speeds (think next-gen mobile learning, social learning, on-the-fly translation, etc.), many of our organizations are not large enough and do not have adequate resources to be investing in most, or any of these innovations. Yet, often a few organizations begin piloting a new tool with early success.  With appropriate mechanisms, we can identify which new technologies might yield the most transformational outcomes for the highest number of NGOs and we can turn one organization’s innovation into success for the entire sector—at a much greater scale.

One potent example of such shared innovation is from the higher education sector. edX – a MOOC platform founded by MIT and Harvard, and sustained by many other universities is actually a shared investment in innovative technologies. Although these organizations are competitors for students, faculty and research dollars, they recognized that with edX (originally piloted at MIT) they could learn and innovate faster with improved educational outcomes by aggregating both their investment dollars and their course and student data. They recognized that benefits for all of higher education of shared “big data” sets and combined R&D teams and tools outweighed their competitive concerns.

10% | Local Application and Optimization

Lastly, 10% of our effort should go to proprietary investment – or what I’m calling “local application.” In the end, even with common curricula and shared investments, the work that each of us does in our specific organizational contexts is unique. Even so, we can keep our interests in proprietary curricula at just 10% by realizing that in many ways, local applications can focus on optimizing shared investments, or adapting core curricula to address the specific needs of our individual organizations. In our roles as learning providers – for partners, beneficiaries, and for employees – we’re more valuable as expert content curators than over-stretched content creators.

And as curators, we rely on the curricula and technologies of our community to enrich our own organizations. That’s a bright future for NGO learning.


Chris Proulx is the CEO of LINGOs, the international NGO sector’s largest membership-based consortium dedicated solely to training and capacity building. It has a membership of over 80 international humanitarian relief, development, conservation and social justice organizations. The PMD Pro certification, developed by a LINGO-led working group, provides project managers and team members working in the international development sector with training on the skills and tools need to successfully manage their projects. Join us.

Learning Against the Odds: LINGOs Member + Partner Donated Tool

Featured image above: GOAL SYRIA Humanitarian Communications trainee, Al-Baraa Haddad (Image: A.V. Crofts) from FlipTheMedia.com

Sometimes, supporting learning and development feels far from the front lines of humanitarian work. Yet, often, it is front and center – we were inspired by this story of how a LINGOs-supplied resource from one of our long-standing partners enabled a member to provide training and support to happen despite some extraordinary challenges. Earlier this month, Janet Humphreys from LINGOs Member GOAL shared an article written by a trainer who had recently traveled to Antakya, Turkey, to lead a workshop on communications for humanitarian workers on both sides of the Turkey-Syria Border.

Border closures kept staff who were intending to come on the training in Turkey from Syria from traveling to the training, and the GOAL office was also closed due to security. However, a number of staff were still able to participate using Blackboard Collaborate from their homes. We also recorded some of the sessions for others who couldn’t make it. The trainer was very complementary re the technology which we get through our LINGOs membership and it certainly meant the training reached staff despite the logistical challenges.

Read the story by AV Crofts on Flip the Media:

Stories That Showcase Resilience and Everyday Acts of Hope: Humanitarian Communications in a War Zone

And THANK YOU to our partner Blackboard for your generous support of LINGOs and our Members’ work.

LINGOs offfers quarterly online training courses that can help staff of member organizations to deliver online training.

The next LINGOs Moderator Training for Blackboard Collaborate is June 11:  Register - Moderator Training Button

LINGOs and Volunteer Extraordinaire Greg Davis offer a quarterly Virtual Training Mastery Series (VTMS) on how to design and deliver virtual classroom training. The next two-part VTMS is July 28 & 29.

Register VTMS button

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
B
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!

The top 3 things the LINGOs community wanted the new CEO to know

Guest Post by LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx

Chris_Proulx

LINGOs members consistently want more community and networking opportunities. That is the most common message that I have heard from members of the LINGOs community during my first three months as CEO. Through a variety of formal and informal listening events with LINGOs members, I have heard a lot of what you value about LINGOs and also what you aspire it to become.  Now, I am able to summarize some of the key themes that have come from feedback exercises at the Portland Annual Meeting and the London Members Meetup, the 2015 Membership Renewal Survey and individual conversations with many of you.

Community and Networking

By far, the most valued component of your membership is your ability to network and share best practices with each other. So, naturally you want even more value from the community. First and foremost, you’d like additional opportunities to meet in-person, not just virtually, and not just at the LINGOs Annual Meeting. (Shameless plug: this year’s Annual Meeting is being hosted by Heifer in Little Rock, AR, USA on October 15 and 16—and, attendance for one participant is included in your 2015 dues!) You want smaller sessions where we can have more focused dialogue and more opportunities to build local relationships.

So, we are going to facilitate more regional LINGOs events in 2015:

  • London: I facilitated a UK/Europe members meeting at Plan on Jan 14—about 15 folks attended, networked and heard from Speexx, our new language learning partner.
  • Boston: a self-organized member meetup at HREA on Feb 5 with ideas and feedback sent to LINGOs staff.
  • Nairobi: I am organizing a LINGOs member meetup for members and key contacts in the region on Feb 24. There’s still time to sign up!
  • Orlando: Gus Curran and I will be meeting with members attending the Ecosystem and Learning Solutions  conference Mar 25-27.
  • More on the way: we are looking to host a DC area meeting and perhaps a Bangkok/SE Asia meeting and very likely will do another London meeting later in the year. If you want to host something in your area, let me know.

In addition, you are also interested in improving how we develop and share best practice deliverables around topics of interest. So, you want to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk. This is on our radar screen, and we have a couple of interested members willing to take the lead on a couple of topics. Stay tuned for more details.

Reach, Reach, Reach

I have also heard a lot about reaching your field staff, including more support for occasionally connected users, mobile content, and content in more languages.  As you all know, there are a number of complex and inter-related issues, but we share your commitment to deliver learning to the last mile. To start, thanks to the financial support of two members, Goal and Relief International, the LINGOs Last Mile Learning online courses for PMDPro, as well as the PMDPro guide, will be available in Arabic later this spring to complement their availability in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Please reach out me and/or connect us with your country and regional staff to we can continue extend the reach of our PMDPro expertise to where you are working.

In addition, the new LINGOs Learning Platform will be mobile-ready, so that will be a big step forward, especially for mobile-ready courses that you are developing. However, many of our commercial content providers are not yet providing us with mobile-ready courses. So, we will need to work with our content providers to help prioritize this need.  Our Last Mile Learning courses provide us with more flexibility but there is also work to be done. If your organization is interested in supporting our effort to develop and deploy these modules in a mobile format, please let me know.

Ensuring that we reach the field with appropriate, accessible, and affordable learning is a value that is shared by the LINGOs team. Let’s continue the dialogue to help us prioritize the most important courses and benefits, and where needed, to identify the financial support to make it happen. LINGOs has a long history of deploying new solutions thanks to the shared financial support of several of its members that helps us to leverage the engagement of private sector partners.

Onboarding and Curation

The third big theme was how LINGOs could do a better job in making new member start-up more of a turnkey process and how, for all members, we could do a better job packaging and curating the benefits and courses. LINGOs has become a victim of its own success; there are so many benefits available, that it has become difficult to manage. As the newest member of the LINGOs team—I agree; it has been difficult for me to get my head around it, so I can appreciate your needs.

Tacking this is a big challenge, but I would like to highlight two items in the works. First, based on our lessons from the LLP training, all new LINGOs members will now be on-boarded to LINGOs in quarterly cohorts. This will provide two benefits: a more focused opportunity to work with others on how to best deploy LINGOs internally and an immediate community for new members upon joining for broader best practice sharing.

Second, we will be co-hosting a webinar on April 16 with David Kelly from the E-Learning Guild on the topic of Curation that will be followed by an in-depth workshop at the Annual Meeting in Little Rock in October. Let’s use this to jump start our collective efforts to curate the best of LINGOs and provide all of us in the community with new tools and techniques to help our organizations and learners be more effective and more focused in their professional development.

So, these are the big three topics. I also heard plenty more about blended learning, social learning, technical course content, management and leadership development, monitoring and evaluation, employee onboarding, online communities, LINGOs working groups, and more.  The team and I have ideas and potential projects around many of these topics as well and we will share more on some of these topics later in the year.

In closing, it has been exciting for me to discover this robust, generous, and committed community at LINGOs and one that I look forward to working with on a number of initiatives where we can clearly be “better together.” Thanks for your hospitality in welcoming me to LINGOs. I hope to see each of you in the coming months.

LINGOs Community meets up via 2015 meet ups

Posted by Marian Abernathy, LINGOs Membership Director

communityLINGOs is all about community and collaboration to ensure that individuals and organizations within the development, humanitarian and sustainability sectors have the right learning in the right place at the right time.

Our membership community, now about 80 international non-governmental organizations, strongly values the community and opportunity to support one another, gain ideas and share approaches amongst each other.

We’re focusing efforts to strengthen community with a series of LINGOs Meet Ups. Two have taken place so far: On January  1,  UK and Europe-based members met at Plan’s London Offices with CEO Chris Proulx and representatives from our partners ThinkBuzan and Speexx. In early February,  Boston area members met at HREA on a (the) day no snow was actively falling.

Upcoming events

February 24 – Nairobi based members are meeting at Action Aid. If your organization has a Learning Champion based in Nairobi, or you have Learning and Development staff there, please contact me (Marian(at)LINGOs.org) for more information. Space is limited, but we very much want to build and support our Nairobi-based learning community.

In March, LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx and Member Services Manager will be at the eLearning Guild’s Learning and Performance Ecosystem Conference in Orlando and are hosting a LINGOs Meet Up at a March 25 morning Buzz Session. We welcome LINGOs community members at the conference to join them there!

Stay tuned for upcoming LINGOs Meet Ups… or contact LINGOs if you’d like to host a member meet up.