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.