For international NGOs working in multiple regions, the ties that bind are often virtual. “eLearning is the biggest component of our learning and development approach,” says Pauline Rooney, operations systems officer at GOAL Global, a humanitarian organization currently working in 17 countries. “And our learning management system is at the center of our eLearning, where we gather, measure, and share information.”
LINGOs, a learning consortium of 80+ international development, aid, and conservation organizations, and Principled Technologies, an award-winning provider of custom learning solutions and fact-based marketing, are excited to announce the release of several specialized elearning course templates for LINGOs members.
Like other multinational organizations, NGOs working in multiple countries face a major challenge to their productivity and success: the language divide between staff in various national offices. Take ChildFund for instance, which works to support vulnerable children worldwide: “English is the great unifying language of our business,” says Leslie Crudele, ChildFund’s International HR Business Partner. “We have staff around the world that are non-native English speakers, and they’re asked to use English in their business communications.”
A cross between the founding principles of eCornell, Cornell University’s online-learning arm, and LINGOs, a global development capacity-building consortium, might sound something like “All the world is a classroom.” For NGO staff working around the world, however, learning can be impacted by issues of internet accessibility and dangerous working environments, not to mention distance between offices. As LINGOs’ longtime partner, eCornell is changing the stakes by affordably delivering eCornell courses to NGO learners wherever they work. In the last five years, over 2,200 NGO staff in 120 countries have furthered their professional educations through eCornell, and their numbers are only growing.
eCornell’s generous partnership gives LINGOs’ 80+ Members – all development, humanitarian, or conservation organizations – access to eCornell courses at highly discounted rates. With courses in topics ranging from management to accounting, human resources to plant-based nutrition, eCornell has spurred an enthusiastic response from LINGOs Members, whose staff have taken over 10,800 courses since 2010, at a combined retail savings to their non-profits of over $6,000,000. For Paul Krause, eCornell’s CEO, the partnership “has been a great way for us to provide premium Cornell courses and professional certificate programs to those engaged in the important work of NGOs.”
Learning for a Stronger Sector
TechnoServe, a new member of the LINGOs community, began offering eCornell courses to its staff in May 2015. Since then, enrollment has accelerated. “It’s a combination of a huge demand for learning and just the right type of courses,” says Agnieszka Zieminska Yank, Vice President of Human Resources at TechnoServe. By the end of 2015, more than one hundred TechnoServe staffers had already enrolled in over 460 courses, in topics like “Project Teams: Mining Collective Intelligence” and “Dealing with Difference.” In all, over 90% of TechnoServe staffers surveyed reported that the courses met their expectations “very” or “extremely” well.
“It’s the design of the courses that sells them,” says Libba Ingram, Senior Learning Specialist at Management Sciences for Health. eCornell courses are rigorous and short (most take just two weeks to complete), with no fixed class times, so learners can easily jump into discussions and submit project work from any time zone. Katie Taylor, a Talent Development Specialist at MSH, adds that eCornell is covered as a benefit in employee onboarding, but says word-of-mouth has been a major driver of its success at the organization. Case in point? “Nigeria,” she says. As it turns out, although MSH works in over 65 countries, approximately half of its eCornell enrollments in 2015 came from staff in Nigeria – the result, Ingram and Taylor surmise, of a communication line between colleagues.
For staff looking to deepen their perspective or shift to new roles, eCornell’s certificate programs have proven to be a popular – and global – credential. Certificate programs, usually comprised of five or six courses in a given subject (although master certificates can require twice as many courses, or more) culminate in most disciplines in a certificate from Cornell University. In the past five years, the University has awarded over 700 certificates to the staff of LINGOs Member organizations.
For Francis Rogers, a capacity building coordinator at ACDI/VOCA who recently earned a certificate in HR, eCornell bridged the distance between Ithaca and Liberia, where he’s based. “I do not know whether I would have had the opportunity to attend an Ivy League university had ACDI/VOCA not provided that means,” he writes. To Ross Coxon, Director of LINGOs’ Learning Collaborative, eCornell’s generosity gives LINGOs Member NGOs another way to invest in their own top talent, and more: “The effects of high-quality learning reach not only the staff of LINGOs Members, but also the communities they serve,” he says.
Sergey Hayrapetyan, Senior Advisor (Operational Excellence) at Catholic Relief Services, has completed ten certificates and master certificates through eCornell. In many cases, he says, his coursework has been a lens for approaching his concurrent work with CRS. In a course on scenario planning, for example, he used the homework exercise to develop and apply real strategic objectives for his country program at CRS. “So I was not making anything up,” he says. “I was doing the real thing.” Not only that, but his class discussions and projects incorporated the new perspectives of classmates who came mainly, he says, from the for-profit world.
The Global Classroom
In addition to developing individuals, eCornell is also impacting NGO learning at an organizational level. While the skills training offered by eCornell might not be specific to the non-profit sector, “we’re still an organization. We still have to have people well-versed in skills like HR, management, and accounting, whether they’re HR professionals, or senior leaders, or project staff,” says Bridgett Horn, Learning Manager at The Nature Conservancy.
For NGOs operating between far-flung offices, eCornell can provide a creative means of fusing teambuilding with learning. Catholic Relief Services offers its staff some dedicated eCornell sessions – courses just for CRS learners. Jean Marie Adrian, Senior Advisor (Leadership and Career Development) at CRS, notes that for LINGOs Members facing the cost of gathering staff for trainings in Nairobi or Dubai, eCornell is a clear alternative: “For the price of one airfare, you can train everyone in-depth [through a dedicated session] for two weeks.” Adrian also notes that the cross-section of CRS learners is larger and richer in the eCornell sessions than is often feasible in an onsite: “You have mid-level managers taking a course with country representatives, or higher-level managers,” he says. “The mix is very, very interesting.”
Chris Proulx, LINGOs’ CEO (and formerly of eCornell), is not surprised by the positives that CRS and other LINGOs Members are seeing. He says that “eCornell has had a model for now 15 years that has always been social in its construction, yet it’s not what people normally think about when they think about social learning.”
And although the type of social learning happening with eCornell “isn’t taking place in 140 characters,” Proulx continues, “it’s helping people to exchange knowledge with peers and colleagues who they may not otherwise have had an opportunity to connect with.”
Today kicks off 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, a campaign to educate citizens and lawmakers alike about gender-based violence, human rights, and “the intersections of political, economic, and social realities.”
The uncommon timespan is no accident. Beginning on November 25 (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women), and ending on December 10 (International Human Rights Day), the 16 Days campaign delivers gender equality to the doorstep of human rights – one inextricable from the other.
With thousands of organizations around the world participating in activities, sharing resources, and calling for change, the 16 Days campaign founds a sustained conversation about gender-based violence and human rights.
How are you joining in 16 Days?
Get the newly updated “Guidelines for Integrating Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Action.” Explore the resources and community action supported by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership and UN Women.
Take an online course from UNFPA on managing gender-based violence programs in emergencies. And LINGOs members, the following courses are available to you through the LINGOs Learning Platform:
|Course Title||LINGOs Learning Platform Course Code|
|Inter-Agency Standing Committee – Different Needs – Equal Opportunities (Gender Equality in Programming)||IASC-IASC-GenderEquality|
|InterAction – Managing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Investigations||IA00-managing-SEA|
|InterAction – SEA101: Introduction to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse||IA00-SEA101|
|InterAction – SEA201: Mainstreaming of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse||IA00-SEA201|
|Headington Institute – Coping with Traumatic Stress (EN)||HI00-traumaticstress-EN-HI|
|Headington Institute – Coping with Traumatic Stress (ES)||HI00-traumaticstress-SP-HI|
|Headington Institute – Coping with Traumatic Stress (FR)||HI00-traumaticstress-FR-HI|
|Headington Institute – Coping with Traumatic Stress (PT)||HI00-traumaticstress-PT-HI|
A message from Ross Coxon, Director of the Learning Collaborative
I would like to thank Heifer for their generosity in providing us with such an amazing venue and such great hospitality, as well as thank all the other agencies who have hosted us in the past. We really appreciate a chance to see your working environments and learn a little bit more about your wonderful organizations.
GLF Attendees have asked LINGOs to set a date and location for next year’s GLF so they can start planning. Before we can do that, we need a host.
It is a long and proud tradition that a LINGOs Member hosts the Forum. Would your organization consider joining Heifer International, PATH, FHI360, MercyCorps, TNC, CRS and CARE as members who have hosted a LINGOs meeting?
Hosting the GLF can be a fun and rewarding experience! The LINGOS team does most of the heavy lifting, with help from the Planning Committee.
You are eligible to host the meeting in 2016 if:
-you would like to host the LINGOs family
-have access to a facility that can host up to 140 people
-have an amazing logistics person who can work with us
Please reach out to me directly if you are interested or need more information. I look forward to your responses, and we are already getting very excited about the coming year and the Global Learning Forum 2016!
A message from LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx about the 2016 LINGOs Co-Creation Agenda
Two 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:
- Digital Badges: Credentials that transfer with employees from organization to organization mapped to a list of competencies with evidence the competencies have been retained.
- Professional Competency Frameworks: Shared competency model (80% solution) – with focus on tools/resources/guidance for implementation for your organization – for common key field positions.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Guest post by CEO Chris Proulx, about the expert panel he’ll be moderating at LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum!
Since their launch in 2012, massive open online courses (MOOCs) have generated lots of buzz, controversy, and investment. Much of the attention around MOOCs has been focused on their disruptive qualities – enormous scale, big data – against the landscape of higher education and other traditional educational models. I lived through that frothy discussion during my last couple of years as CEO at eCornell and have a few bruises to show for it.
As the debate around their role in learning continues, MOOCs and other higher-volume, higher-engagement online learning models have quietly been making inroads into private and social sector organizations. There, they’re being used to explore innovative solutions to complex problems, build broad-based skills for next generation workforces, develop leadership teams, and more.
At the LINGOs Global Learning Forum in October, we will be exploring MOOCs’ implications for learning and capacity building in the global development and humanitarian sectors. We’ve invited four experts who are leading the way in terms of innovation and application of MOOCs. Together, we’ll unpack several of the more vexing questions regarding what works and what doesn’t.
Probably the biggest knock on MOOCs has been low completion rates and mixed levels of learner engagement. But you will be surprised what you’ll hear from some of our panelists about what they are seeing in their metrics. Chris Pirie will talk about a MOOC at Microsoft that had an over 80% completion rate. Clint Korver from NovoEd and Nick Martin from Tech Change will share innovative approaches to technology and pedagogy that are driving social learner engagement in a range of courses: How does the design of successful MOOCs differ from that of traditional courses? Do we need high-charisma experts to lead them? What role can facilitated post-course networking play?
Taking advantage of the theory of cognitive surplus, MOOCs are potentially powerful tools for developing the wisdom of crowds into truly co-created new solutions. Sheila Jagannathan from the World Bank has been leading the Bank’s effort to develop open MOOCs on complex challenges related to climate change, citizen engagement, and the evolving role of public-private partnerships. How can we bring new ideas to our organizations for scaling up learning options for beneficiaries, donors, partners, and the engaged public?
The scale opportunities may be different between large and open public courses like the World Bank’s and smaller cohorts for internally-focused courses (aka the SPOC). So, what have we learned about the production and business models to make each model viable depending on the use case? There is a range of options available today for content development formats and delivery platforms, as the field has been expanded well beyond the better-known Coursera and EdX platforms. Microsoft, the World Bank, Stanford and others are leveraging different partners and platforms to deliver more courses and reach diverse audiences. Which will be the right choice for your organization?
In the Forum panel, you’ll get the information you’ll need to begin implementing your own MOOC at your organization: The panelists are prepared to share the inside story on their lessons learned as well as their aspirations for the future of this course format and how it can be applied in our sector. Through LINGOs alone, we can reach over 200,000 employees of international NGOs and hundreds of thousands more at local partnering organizations. Let’s brainstorm on how we can build increased engagement and highly scalable courses from our collective expertise that will benefit our broadest base of stakeholders.
Guest post by LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx
Eleven years ago, six international NGOs interested in improving their learning technologies and training for field staff began meeting informally, to co-invest in and learn from each other. From those early meetings LINGOs was born, and it has since evolved to become a learning and capacity-building community of over 80 international NGO “members.”
Now in its second decade, LINGOs continues to grow: In the past several years, we’ve developed our first sector-wide credential, PMD Pro, and partnered with other NGOs on deeper learning initiatives. Even so, in the eyes of many in the sector, LINGOs remains a “membership organization.”
Starting today, we are taking big steps towards expanding our community and the concept of what learning in NGOs (and beyond) can mean. I am pleased to announce that after a three-month search, we have selected Ross Coxon as our first Director of the Learning Collaborative!
First, a bit about Ross: While he has been with LINGOs for a year in our Project Services group, facilitating PMD Pro training and developing and enhancing our curricula, many of you may also know him from his nine years as the Head of Learning and Development for Islamic Relief. While at IR, Ross grew the L&D department into the highest-ranking internal department on staff surveys, co-authored an entirely new management development program grounded in the culture and values of IR, introduced LINGOs to IR (thanks!) and was active in the various L&D communities in the UK.
Ross stood out as the ideal candidate to lead our transition from “membership” to the “Learning Collaborative” based on his passion for learning, experience in the field, ideas and vision for a broader and more engaged community, and his overall tenacity and energy for results. Congratulations, Ross, and we’re excited to see all that you’ll do in this new role!
So, what’s behind the idea of the “Learning Collaborative”? For those of you who attended our Annual Member Meeting in Portland last year, you heard me discuss my concept of the “learning ecosystem.” Following that meeting, I spoke with members, field staff, CEOs, and learning providers about the future LINGOs learning ecosystem, and found that three key points emerged from our conversations:
- It’s about learning; no matter where, how or by whom it is deployed. LINGOs got its start in technology, yet it’s clear that the distinction between e-learning and learning has blurred. Our focus needs to be on the broader spectrum of learning – while highlighting and providing solutions for the powerful role that technology can play. The sector has also recognized that learning is being created both inside and outside traditional L&D departments, at headquarters and in the field. As a result, LINGOs can and should work to meet the needs of this wider community of professionals engaged in learning and development. The decisions to launch the Global Learning Forum this year as an open event and to focus a Forum track on local capacity building are just a few of the ways that we’re bringing innovative ideas and new practitioners into the conversation.
- Geography matters. When I joined LINGOs, 75% of our members were headquartered in the United States – a fact which did not reflect the geographic distribution of NGOs, or the breadth of innovative learning practice in the sector. So, we’ve committed to proactively expanding our reach and inviting a much broader range of development actors into our community: NGOs and non-NGOs, US-based organizations and global ones. As a result:
- Two-thirds of our new members this year are based outside the US and the UK.
- With Ross’ selection as Director of the Learning Collaborative, half of our leadership team is now based outside the US, and most on the team have significant field experience in the Global South – another step towards building a more global LINGOs. (We are currently in four countries and six time zones – not bad for a small team!)
- The sector needs deeper community and collaboration. The desire for more frequent, richer, and more diverse ways to build community, share best practices, and co-create solutions is strong. Coming later this month, we will beta-launch the LINGOs Community Site, where you will find and create new solutions, how-tos, and best practices while informally connecting with the community. And at the Global Learning Forum, we are dedicating part of Day Two to designing a shared work agenda for 2016 – with the goal of collaborating to create tools that will benefit the entire sector.
As part of this transition, Marian Abernathy will be assuming a new role as our Partner Engagement Manager (when she has finished planning and managing the Global Learning Forum)! For the first time ever, we will have a person dedicated to recruiting and managing our private sector partners and supporters, with a focus on finding new ways to maximize the value and benefit for our members. At the same time, she will have a little more free time to spend with her family, which is richly deserved after five years as the Director of Membership. Please congratulate Marian on her new role and join me in thanking her for leading our community with so much enthusiasm and energy.
Speaking of the Global Learning Forum:
- Our session schedule is live!
- We have the same number of people now registered that we had in Portland last year—with six weeks to go. If you are not yet registered, now is the time…and if you are already registered, invite a friend or colleague who is working on learning in our sector.
- We have three partners this year who will be providing content, analysis and/or expert facilitation. Look forward to conversation and insight from Brandon Hall Group, the Learning and Performance Institute and the Bridgespan Group.
- Our lead sponsor, Microsoft, will be showing off some cool technology for learning using the Office Suite at our evening reception (I got a sneak peek last week while in Seattle – you’ll want to see it)!
- We will be announcing the first ever winner of the Eric Berg LEAP Award for innovation and risk taking in our field.
- Thanks again to Heifer for hosting us at their fantastic campus. See you there!
On July 16, NovoEd and LINGOs hosted a preview for LINGOs members of a nonprofit e-learning initiative, Philanthropy University. Missed the webinar? Read on for more information!
Social, accessible, workshop-style – there are no shortage of attributes to describe the future of NGO learning. Across the sector, however, one thing is certain: to truly leverage our resources and common goals, the future must be collaborative.
Enter Philanthropy University: a new initiative powered by NovoEd that offers online organizational learning geared specifically towards the learning needs of nonprofits. Philanthropy University is partnering with LINGOs to offer community learning opportunities through expert-taught courses. Fall 2015 courses include:
- Fundraising: How to Connect With Donors
- Organizational Capacity: Assessment to Action
- Global Social Entrepreneurship
- Financial Modeling for the Social Sector
- Essentials of Nonprofit Strategy
- Leadership: Ten Rules for Impact and Meaning
- How to Scale Social Impact
Each 5- to 8-week Philanthropy University course is free to attend, and participants have the option to receive a Statement of Accomplishment upon course completion. Discussion forums & workspaces allow learners to share content, team up on projects via video or message, and get feedback on ideas and assignments. Participants from LINGOs member organizations can easily find and team up with other LINGOs learners in their courses, and use the Philanthropy University platform as a springboard for ideas to improve the entire community.
Philanthropy University for LINGOs Learners
Here’s why these collaboration-oriented courses are a great opportunity for LINGOs learners:
- LINGOs and Philanthropy University share a common mission: to provide world-class learning and tools to help nonprofit organizations make the most of their resources.
- Shared knowledge is a powerful stepping stone for innovation: joint participation in Philanthropy University courses will enhance cooperation and learning among LINGOs members – and across the sector. These free courses also provide a great way for staff, volunteers, and stakeholders within an NGO to learn together, and leverage their learning for greater impact at an organizational level.
- Accessible learning builds a better sector: Philanthropy University uses Amazon Web Services to adjust video resolution based on available bandwidth, providing accessible learning wherever users are. Built-in course reporting tools also help organizations gain insights into the interests and needs of their learners – and help the LINGOs community as a whole focus resource development where it’s needed most. To this end, for the pilot year Philanthropy University will provide LINGOs with aggregate member data, and organizations with high participation (to ensure data relevance) will be eligible for individual data reports.
We’re also excited to be partnering with Philanthropy University on other collaborative learning opportunities in the future, including a panel discussion on MOOCs and social learning at LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum in October. Stay tuned!