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.

Coaching for Results and Consumer Protection & Financial Education in Microfinance Courses Win in 2nd eLearning Global Giveback Competition

March 24 (Orlando, FL)

Eric Berg, Executive Director of LINGOs thanked all the eLearning volunteers who developed courses for LINGOs members and announced the eight finalists and two winners of the second eLearning Global Giveback Competition today at the eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions Conference and Expo.

Through the first two eLearning Global Giveback competitions, instructional designers and eLearning developers have created over 50 online courses as volunteers for international non-profit organizations. These courses will help the global staff of LINGOs member agencies, do their good work in the fields of humanitarian relief, development, conservation and social justice even better.

The winner in the individual developer category is Amanda Warner, who created the course “Consumer Protection and Financial Education in Microfinance” for ACCION, a microfinance organization based in Boston. The course launched publically late last month as part of the SMART Campaign. In its first month online, the flash-authored course hosted almost 500 views.   

 Screenshot from Client Protection Simulation

  

The winning course in the corporate developer category is “Coaching for Results,” created by Illumina Interactive, Inc. and EnVision Performance Solutions, Inc. for LINGOs member Management Sciences for Health, based in Cambridge, MA.  

The Finalists in the second competition in the individual developer category are:

Volunteer Finalist Course Title Agency
Scott A VanDeKeere Code of Conduct Save the Children
Suzanne Davies and Aparna Jadhav HFHI Values in Action Habitat for Humanity International
Mikaron Fortier  and  Kim Correll Managing your Business Expenses at The Nature Conservancy The Nature Conservancy
Kathy Jeep Pretesting Social Marketing Messages Population Services International (PSI)
Susan Lichtig and Rob Gahagan PSI Ethics Training PSI

 

 

 

 

 

Finalists in the Corporate Developer category are:

Bonnie Taylor/ISDiva A Primer to the Global Fund PSI
Quicklessons How to Design a Team Building Workshop ACDI/VOCA
WITS Interactive Pvt. Ltd. A Values Driven Workplace – Living Our Values at ACCION ACCION

 

 

 

See the courses

The winning and finalist courses are available for viewing on a showcase portal: http://lingosglobalgiveback.org/

Volunteer and Agency Perspective

This is winner Amanda Warner’s second time participating in the eLearning Global Giveback and her second time partnering with microfinance not-for-profit ACCION, whose mission is to give people the financial tools they need to work their way out of poverty. Her first course, “Build, Manage and Improve Credit” is available online not just to the global staff of ACCION, but to the general public. “It’s so motivating to see the course in action,” said Warner, who estimates she spent between 180 and 210 hours developing this year’s winning course.

“It was great to play with different ideas, and work on a totally different type of content from my day job,” she said. Warner took reams of ACCION’s existing face-to-face course materials, spread sheets, word documents, published guides and other resources and developed a proposal for an engaging, interactive simulation.

ACCION Representative Amy Stewart worked with Warner on this year’s individual winning entry as well as with corporate entry Finalist WITS Interactive, who created a custom-course for ACCION “A Values Driven Workplace – Living Our Values at ACCION.” Stewart is grateful to both developers, and to LINGOs and the eLearning Guild for organizing the competition.  “There is no question that these courses add value to ACCION,” she said.

Jude Griffin of Management Sciences for Health (MSH), the health organization benefitting from the corporate category first place course agreed. “The experience of working with Illumina Interactive and EnVision Performance Solutions was fantastic,” she said. “They took the moodle platform and pulled in other tools. They showed it’s a viable way to use multiple software elements and make a really interactive learning.

Screenshot from pilot version of Coaching for Results Course

This course will help people understand what’s possible.” Michael Getz, of Illumina Interactive noted “the course was a springboard opportunity to push the envelope in terms of learning experience,” he said. “We used a creative approach to the blended learning environment: adding value and content to the core content that MSH provided.” The course is built in moodle, and includes quizzes and engaging interactions through Ariculate, surveys and polls via survey monkey.

Irene Stern Frielich, founder and president of EnVision Performance Solutions, Inc., worked with MSH and Illumina Interactive to develop the instructional design for the course. Speaking for both companies, Frielich said, “we both believe in giving back. This was a great opportunity to demonstrate for MSH some new and interesting ways to create learning.” Getz and Frielich estimate that they and their colleagues spent 475 hours developing the interactive coaching course.

Judging

Agencies entered the courses into the competition and provided a first round of judging on ten criteria. The top courses in each category were then sent to an international panel of seven elearning experts based in four countries. The international panel of judges reviewed each of the top courses on eight criteria and selected the top courses from each of the two entry categories. The eLearning Guild and LINGOs are enormously grateful to this year’s panel of judges.

Jane Bozarth, Columnist Learning Solutions Magazine

Greg Davis, Precision eLearning

Linda English, eLearning for Kids

Jane Hart, Center for Learning & Performance Technologies

Jim Klaas, DevEd International

Patti Shank, Learning Peaks

Roger Steele, LINGOs

 

Quality and impact

Habitat for Humanity Instructional Designer Susan O’Connell worked with volunteers Aparna Jadhav and Suzanne Davies on the course “Habitat for Humanity International Values in Action.” She noted that volunteers are essential to Habitat’s global mission of eliminating poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. The work of Jadhav and Davies is different from that of the more usual Habitat volunteer, but just as important if not more so, as this course about how Habitat values volunteerism, and how volunteers are integrally tied into Habitat’s mission, is already in use. “I was so impressed with the commitment of these volunteers,” she said. “I’m the only instructional designer here, so the fact that they were so focused and committed allowed me to focus on other work and get twice as much done.”

The eLearning Global Giveback Competition and the value of the great work that eLearning experts have contributed to the member agencies of LINGOs is incalculable. “Ensuring that staff members in our field offices, in geographically remote areas, are able to learn about priority topics for our organization is critical,” said PSI’s Learning and Performance Manager Marie-Laure Curie.  PSI maximized participation in both the first and second Global Giveback competitions, assigning subject matter experts to multiple volunteers to submit nine courses in the second competition. “Global Giveback volunteers have enabled us to provide quality learning on the right topics ant the right time, improving performance of our global team,” said Curie, who also serves on LINGOs’ board of directors.

Posted by Marian Abernathy

LINGOs Partners with OpenSesame

Guest Post by Kelly Meeker, OpenSesame

 

You all are fortunate and engaged members of a global network – LINGOs – that takes advantage of emerging technologies to connect global resources to a global community.  No longer are the far-flung employees of international nongovernmental organizations disconnected from the latest trends in their industry! LINGOs is doing incredible work to  leverage elearning technology to build global capacity.

And OpenSesame is proud to jump in. As a new startup in the elearning sector, we’re thrilled to partner with LINGOs to connect our technology platform and community of talented elearning developers to you, the learning leaders in international organizations.

The OpenSesame eLearning Marketplace Connects the Buyers and Sellers of Elearning Courses

OpenSesame is an online marketplace that makes it as easy to buy elearning courses as it is to download a song off the internet. eLearning sellers from all over the world upload their courses to the OpenSesame marketplace, set prices and bulk discounts and sell their courses to new customers.

 eLearning buyers browse our catalog by course subject, author, length, difficulty and special features and discover new courses and new authors. Before making a purchase, buyers can preview courses, read user reviews and research the seller’s credentials – ensuring that they’re finding the best courses to meet their organization’s learning and development goals.

In addition to connecting buyers and sellers through OpenSesame, we remove one major headache for learning managers like you by connecting any SCORM course to any LMS. Our platform technology removes obstacles to implementation and enables you to focus on the important stuff, like building connections with colleagues, developing new resources and getting to the core business of what you do – solving problems.

Opening a Larger Conversation

We are also facilitating a larger conversation on the evolving elearning sector on our blog and on Twitter. We’re blogging about everything from technical stuff (Creating a Multi SCO Package to Include Support Materials) to investigating new growth areas in the elearning sector (How to Create a Social Learning Environment). Our mission is to unlock elearning by making elearning accessible and easy to implement, while enabling you to choose the most effective and appropriate courses for your needs. 

Partnership with LINGOs

We’re proud to work with LINGOs to bring more learning and development resources to nongovernmental organizations because we believe elearning is the key to unlocking the potential of every learner, no matter how far away they may be.

We are partnering with LINGOs to engage the OpenSesame community in generating more resources for LINGOs members. First, we’re adding a check box to our course upload process to enable OpenSesame sellers to choose to donate use of their courses to LINGOs members. We’ll work with LINGOs to add those courses to the LINGOs LMS and make them available to members directly through a LINGOs area on our website.

OpenSesame will also join LINGOs and the eLearning Guild  as a co-sponsor to the 3rd Annual Global Giveback competition. This competition brings out the best in the elearning community by connecting willing volunteers with some of the organizations making real change happen on the ground, and we’re proud to invite our sellers to participate.

We hope this is just the beginning of a fruitful partnership that will continue to generate more resources for LINGOs members. Thanks for everything you do. We look forward to working with you, and we invite you to connect with us through our blog, Twitter or email.

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  

FHI’s Pilot Launch of eLearning through a LINGOs membership: process, results, and lessons learned

Guest Blog post by Peter Balvanz
Program Officer, Knowledge Management, FHI, Durham, NC, USA

 In August of last year FHI joined the LINGOs community.  From October 11 to December 11 we conducted a pilot eLearning initiative with four FHI country offices to help inform us in our global roll-out, which we are currently planning.  Pilot objectives included:

  1. Understand value of courses for global employees
  2. Test the course approval process
  3. Manage workflow before global roll-out.

 

Relying heavily on LINGOs staff and website, other member organizations, and a strategic group at FHI, our pilot was deemed a success.  At the conclusion of the two month pilot:

  • 212 staff were batch-load registered to our portal
  • 25% of these staff registered for at least 1 course (52/212)
  • Individual staff requested 4 courses on average at first visit
  • Among courses started (70), 40% were completed (28) during the pilot period (not all country offices started the pilot on Oct 11).
  • Courses generally took between 1-2 hours cumulative time.

 

PROCESS

Aiming to quickly offer courses to country office staff in our pilot, we were able to register staff, and communicate select course offerings through a branded portal within two months.  Several strategies facilitated this accomplishment, including:

1) LINGOs support staff and website – the website generally had answers to questions we had, but if it didn’t, the staff did

2) LinkedIn member and organization support – other experienced organizations collaborated to answer our posted questions, offering advice from personal experience and guidance documents used with their own staff

3) Forming and utilizing a strategic working group representing diverse departments at FHI.

In the case of the first two, FHI was the beneficiary of strong institutional knowledge, best practices, and lessons learned.  LINGOs staff were consistently timely in providing solid support and successfully facilitated beneficial relationships among member organizations.  The advice and guidance documents shared with FHI by member organizations provided an easy-to-assemble structure that enabled a quick release to pilot countries. 

FHI's Pilot Learning Portal

 

 Internally, FHI assembled a strategic working group to develop policies and divide necessary labors.  Our group included an administrator from Knowledge Management; HR representatives; Global Portfolio Management (GPM – country office liaisons) to aid in decisions important to international FHI staff; and IT.   Our decision making body crossed responsibilities to ensure all relevant voices were heard and we could get the most from our LINGOs membership. 

The strategic group sought input from country offices to advertise eLearning, tailor course selections to country needs, and to select countries interested in a pilot.  First, a short survey was emailed to country directors asking them to select courses most relevant to their staff and inquire whether they would be interested in participating in the pilot.  Pilot countries selected were to be diverse in staff size, capacity, and bandwidth, to get a better sense of the wider benefits of courses and challenges.  Learning areas deemed most important across the country offices were used to populate our portal with about 50 courses. Before including in the portal, most of the courses were quickly reviewed by staff from departments represented in our strategic group. 

As our preparation progressed, we wrote numerous template documents, including: Welcome letter to liaisons; Welcome letter for staff to be sent by liaisons; single sheet orientation to LINGOs; administrative roles and responsibilities; and policies and procedures, including screen shots for users. 

Once our portal was branded and loaded with courses, the opportunity was disseminated to staff through a country office liaison selected by the country director.  Liaisons were welcomed through an email describing responsibilities, and followed by a more in-depth phone call.  To encourage greater communication with country staff, we sent three bi-monthly updates and reports to liaisons offering support.  We also arranged one collective Elluminate session for liaisons to share their experiences and to show how to view reports as the country’s Registrar. 

FHI Human Resources Officer in Sudan Rose Obede accesses an online course during the pilot initiative

 

Evaluation and Lessons Learned

Upon conclusion of the pilot, we developed surveys for both liaisons and pilot staff to answer our objectives questions.  Staff believed most courses to be relevant to their jobs, easy to navigate, and easy to understand, but noted that work demands and bandwidth to be barriers to access in some countries.  Staff appreciated the opportunity for development, but desired more public health specific courses.  Liaisons believed eLearning to be a good opportunity for staff development and spent an average of 1-2 week assisting staff. 

Numerous lessons were learned to help guide the eventual global roll-out.  Though staff were informed of a user name and password given to them, many would sign-in as new users, thus creating extra work for administrators to avoid double identities.  Countries with low-bandwidth would get frustrated by courses freezing, a reality that cued us to the need to better advertise courses designed for low bandwidth areas.

Also worth noting for greater context, FHI did not deploy eCornell during the pilot.  Our primary focus was giving access to courses from the LINGOs course catalog.  Finally, we are in the initial stages of promoting Articulate.  We have installed copies of the software on shared spaces in our domestic offices, and have begun promoting the software.  Our next steps include revising our procedures manual, reviewing courses in our portal, and beginning to disseminate the opportunity to a wider audience.

Using voices from afar to lead virtual journal clubs

Guest Blog Post By Bill Powell,PhD, RN, FNP
Manager & Senior Advisor, Clinical Affairs at Ipas

Keeping up-to-date with ever-evolving scientific literature is a challenge for staff in many health-related agencies. For global health agencies, ensuring that staff members are interpreting the literature and applying it to their work is further complicated by distance, time zones, variable backgrounds, perspectives and context. One way we have addressed these challenges at Ipas is by offering virtual journal clubs.

Dr. Sangeeta Batra leading an international journal club from India

Several years ago, Ipas  initiated a Journal Club as a face to face meeting of interested staff, to review recent literature in our field. The topics vary from a focus on a specific clinical question to more general topics, such as quality improvement. Our staff from around the world was encouraged to participate by calling in Journal club creates an opportunity to share recent lessons from the literature, discuss the impact new evidence will have on our program strategies, and keep staff up-to-date with emerging trends in the reproductive-health field. Over time, Journal Club has evolved to a virtual event, held about six times a year, over the Elluminate Live! Platform provided through LINGOs membership.

Dr. Talemoh Dah engages with global colleagues from Nigeria over the Elluminate Live! platform
 

While Ipas has staff in 14 countries, North Carolina-based staff have largely facilitated Journal club during its first years. However, over the past year or so, colleagues from our offices in the developing world have facilitated three of the journal clubs. We believe this is one way to decentralize knowledge sharing, build collegial relationships and increase interest in the journal clubs, while drawing on and highlighting the expertise of our staff around the world. So far, two sessions have been led by colleagues from Nigeria, and one session by a colleague in India.
Each of these sessions has been well received and well attended. Although we have not officially evaluated these sessions, informal feedback affirms that people appreciate hearing from country-based facilitators and enjoy the chance to interact internationally over Elluminate. Likewise, the three facilitators have reported satisfaction and pride in leading the sessions and are interested in doing it again.

Dr. Sikiratu Kailani facilitated a journal club from Nigeria

• In one of the Nigeria-led sessions, the facilitator was unable to maintain an internet/Elluminate connection; the session moderator (in North Carolina) had to improvise and lead the discussion.

 Always have a second person at a different site prepped and ready to lead the session in case there are connectivity issues.

• Staff members are busy and proper preparation for a journal club takes time.

 Work with the country team’s management to ensure dedicated time for the facilitator to prepare and lead the session.

• Country-based staff members are not actively seeking to lead these sessions. This may be due to the time and workload issues, or lack of confidence with either the article’s content or the Elluminate technology.

 Be intentional in matching content with potential facilitators and their context, or ask them to suggest articles.
 Work with the country-based facilitator in prepping/editing slides for the session.
 Have at least one person on the live session with moderator privileges to manage Elluminate so that the facilitator can focus on content.
 Organize Elluminate sessions whenever visiting country offices for trouble shooting, modeling and practice.

• Because our global staff work in many different time zones, it is difficult to find a common time when every country office can participate.

 Offer two sessions of the same journal club in order to accommodate various time zones. For example, we usually offer one session for the participants from the US, Latin America, and Africa, and then offer a second session which includes the US support staff, the presenter, and participants from Asia.

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.

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

Presented at the Interaction meeting in June 2010 and  adapted from an article by Eric Berg and Beth Birmingham in “Monday Developments” (Aug 2010, p 37)

For years international NGOs have struggled to develop the skills and competencies of their staff around the world. This challenge has been complex and daunting: broad geographic dispersion of the target audience, a wide range of experience and competence levels, high levels of staff turnover, challenges identifying content, multiple language requirements, and very limited resources. Fortunately, there is good news.

Over the past decade, development organizations have been able to reach thousands of hew learners with quality learning content at very low incremental cost. What has changed? The introduction of learning innovations that help organizations address the ‘Four A’s’ of capacity building:

Audience – Can the learning content be scaled to reach staff across the world?
Appropriate – Is the content contextualized to the environments where it will be applied?
Accessible – Are the learning resources there for staff to use when they need it and where they need it?
Affordable – Can the resources be deployed given the resource constraints of development organizations?

There is no single simple solution that an address the ‘four A’s of capacity building. However a creative combination of innovation in learning design and content distribution, have enabled a number of organizations to successfully address the challenge.

Blended Learning Design
Enhancements in learning technologies are providing the opportunities for international NGOs to blend the best of their traditional approaches to face to face training with an array of new learning media (skype, webinars, etc.). One example of these “blended learning” environments is a 10-year collaboration between World Vision International and Eastern University. This leadership development program brings NGO leaders together once a year in their region (5 continents) for a workshop atmosphere. Faculty are a combination of both professors and practitioners from the region, serving as facilitators and coaches both in the residency environment as well as the on-line environment (using an on-line learning platform) that continues throughout the year. This on-going interaction beyond the residency or workshop ensures on-the-job coaching and greater implementation of the training content.

New Distribution Models
A second innovation in the world of staff development training is the introduction of new models for distributing learning content. Traditionally, learning has been ‘pushed’ through organizations from a central office without much regional contextualization. Increasingly new distribution models allow learners in the field to PULL the learning they need to their locations – when they need it, where they need it and in the form they need it. The new models are more flexible and available through self-service approach, whether that be through on-line courses, communities of practice, RSS feeds, webinars, or recorded content that is accessible through the internet.

One example, of this shift toward social learning is the work of the Project Management Capacity Building Initiative sponsored by LINGOs and PM4NGOs*. While the program can include face to face training approaches that are more formal where facilitators are ‘sent’ to lead trainings around the world; the same content that is conveyed through formal workshops is also made available through webinars, recorded sessions, and e-learning modules. Now, if an employee in Ghana wants to enhance her skills, she no longer needs to wait for a workshop to be conducted in Accra. Instead, she can begin working on her learning immediately. As a result of these new distribution models, she has a variety of choices from which to choose and can decide what best fits her professional needs, her personal constraints and/or her learning preferences.

Social Learning
While much attention has been placed on the use of new technologies, some of the most important recent innovations have been in the area of social learning. The Project Management Capacity Building Initiative, for example, invites all its learners (regardless of the distribution platform they use) to join open community of project management practitioners. In less than one year, over 750 project managers have joined an on-line community where practitioners from the development sector are available to discuss new approaches and provide guidance for any learner seeking assistance from the community. Similarly, the learning collaboration between World Vision International and Eastern University enhances its instruction through the use of a cohort model where groups of students move through the program together, employing peer support groups intended to support the application of the learning to their job situations.

Conclusion
For international NGOs, the introduction of these innovations couldn’t be more timely. Today, the need to build the capacity of local partners and national staff is more urgent than ever. With these new tools, there are now practical and proven approaches that can help ensure that appropriate, accessible and affordable training is available to a global audience.

*The case study of the project management capacity building work was presented at a LINGOs webinar in September 2010. To access the recording, click here