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.”
Posted by Gus Curran, LINGOs Member Services Manager
The LINGOs Member Services and Last Mile Learning teams are thrilled to give you a sneak peak of a new course “Influencing without Authority.”
As you know, ‘Influencing without authority’ is a key skill for project-workers in the field, who often have to deal with delicate situations. Professional instructional designers and developers from Unicorn Training in the UK worked with Last Mile Learning to bring this content to life, contextualizing it for our sector. Samantha Yates of Unicorn Training recently posted about her experience creating a course for LINGOs through the Global Giveback program a the Unicorn Training Blog.
Samantha brought great creativity, interactivity and context to the scenario-driven course. On arrival in the fictional province of Katoa, the learner is immediately immersed in the story of Maria, an aid project worker attempting to find her way through the maze of politics, conflicts and challenges associated with her development project.
Using an interactive map, the learner follows Maria through four topics, helping her to make decisions along the way so that her project can be completed successfully. You can read more about and access a sneak peak of the course via the Unicorn Training Blog.
LINGOs Members, stay tuned for an announcement of the release of this fabulous course by Sam Yates of Unicorn Training.
Posted by Gus Curran, LINGOs Member Services Manager
What comes to mind when you think volunteers?
What could you accomplish if you asked highly skilled learning professionals to volunteer their talents for you and your organization?
If you are Mike Culligan ,Director of LINGOs’ Last Mile Learning Program, the answer to that question is that volunteers can get incredible things done. During the last year, Mike worked with over 80 volunteers to create the Last Mile Learning portal and courses. He recently posted on the Global Giveback LinkedIn Group the following list of accomplishments, completed almost entirely by a team of volunteers.
– 1 website built
– 2 Learning paths created
– 4 Last Mile Learning curriculum guides published (self-led, face-to-face, blended synchronous, blended asynchronous)
– 7 courses translated to Spanish, French and Portuguese
– 13 face to face training packages completed
– 15 eLearning modules developed, and
– 21 additional eLearning modules currently under development
Thanks to the support of volunteers, a library of professional development courses is available, FREE OF CHARGE to anybody working to improve the lives poor communities around the world via http://www.LastMileLearning.org.
No Job is too small!
I recently reached out to volunteers on the Global Giveback Group on LinkedIn, asking them to test Last Mile Learning courses. Highly skilled learning professionals responded quickly, and I was moved and humbled by their generosity. As you can imagine, testing courses is not the most glamorous assignment, but volunteers stepped up and did the testing, offering great feedback on the courses and helping to make Last Mile learning even better. One volunteer took my basic Word document reporting forms and improved them, converting them to forms on Google Docs and setting it up so that all the feedback was aggregated and easy to review. I hadn’t even thought of this, and a volunteer saw the need and reached out to me and offered to help.
No Job is too big!
Did you know that volunteers help LINGOs members learn on a regular basis? Greg Davis of Precision eLearning volunteers his time and skills quarterly to lead the Virtual Training Mastery Series, a popular and engaging course which is helping staff of LINGOs member organizations to design and deliver better training online. He designed the workshop pro-bono for LINGOs, and LINGOs being LINGOs, asked him if would be willing to also deliver the workshop. He said yes. He’s lead over 500 people through this course.
Pam Thomas, owner and certified coach at What’s Within U, LLC,, is a key volunteer for LINGOs from Coaching Out of the Box®. With help from her colleagues, Pam gives several hours of her time each quarter to guide members through a two part online workshop to help them to develop their coaching skills.
Greg and Pam don’t just donate time and experience- both of these volunteers are giving members their materials, as well.
Learning professionals are willing and ready to volunteer
Learning professionals are eager to help. They are lining up on the Global Giveback LinkedIn group, seeking NGOs whose needs and projects match their interests and skills. All you have to do is reach out to them. Visit the Global Giveback LinkedIn Group to review posts by potential volunteers. Review the helpful handouts on the LINGOs Global Giveback site to start planning your project with your volunteer.
In the past, a highlight of Global Giveback has been its element of competition. This year the competition is optional. Non-profits may enter eLearning courses into the competition (with the volunteer’s consent, of course). A panel of judges for the competition will review courses based on a set of requirements, as in years past. However, it is not required that a project be submitted to the competition. This means that all projects should be considered as potential Global Giveback opportunities, as long as they are related to learning for nonprofit organizations working to improve people’s lives in the developing world. This includes internal courses such as orientations, or converting live workshops into blended courses or elearning.
Learn More at the Global Giveback Webinar
I encourage NGO learning staff to join us for a webinar on May 9 at 11:00AM EDT (click here to register) to learn more about how to use Global Giveback harness the power of volunteers. The webinar will also feature LINGOs members who successfully developed courses with volunteer developers in previous years of Global Giveback, and you can ask them your questions. We look forward to seeing you there.
Read this recent post on the Global Giveback
Posted by Mike Culligan, Director of Last Mile Learning
About a year ago, LINGOS member agencies first heard rumbling of the Last Mile Learning initiative and how it will “change the way their organizations learn.” Now it’s time to see for yourself! The Last Mile Learning Open Portal www.lastmilelearning.org is live and ready to share with your staff, your partners, your implementing agencies, your trainers and anyone else that is working to improve the lives of communities around the world.
By now, as a frequent reader of the LINGOs Blog, you probably know the basics of Last Mile Learning. The initiative provides free learning resources to anyone working in the development and relief sector. All the courses are organized into learning paths and are available in three formats (self-led e-learning, face-to-face, and blended on-line.)
For LINGOS member agencies, Last Mile Learning provides an especially exciting opportunity to move learning to the next level in five ways:
#5 Content is contextualized to our sector!
The Last Mile Learning catalog is designed specifically for development and relief professionals. Take for example, the Project Management Learning Path. Each of the seven courses was designed and developed for development professionals. The case studies include scenarios of health, conservation and water projects located in rural communities. The tools examined include log frames, problem trees, monitoring/evaluation plans and other indispensable tools that are critical to our sector. Furthermore, all the project management content is aligned with the PMDPro certification which, as of last month, over 5,000 development professionals globally have completed.
#4 Resources are available for learners AND facilitators!
Yes, Last Mile Learning will complement LINGOs member agency eLearning libraries with contextualized courses organized into learning paths. And, for the first time, Last Mile Learning ALSO provides facilitation packages for trainers who would like to lead courses in face-to-face or blended on-line environments. This means that organizations now have access to resources that allow them to deploy an integrated and comprehensive learning strategy – reaching learners via whatever approach (eLearning, face-to-face, blended on-line) is most appropriate for their context.
#3 Translated content for your global workforce!
Over 80% of the staff of international NGOs is located outside of the United States. For most, English is not their first language. That is why Last Mile Learning is committed to translating its content into multiple languages. The Project Management learning path is available to LINGOs members in Spanish, French, and Portuguese, as well as English; and available on the Last Mile Learning Open Portal in English and Spanish. Other learning paths will be translated over the coming year. These resources will allow organizations to share learning content with the ENTIRE global workforce – not just those who are fluent in English.
#2 It’s time to “expand the we”!
International organizations don’t work alone. Their work depends on a vibrant network of implementing partners, local NGOs, in-country consortia, government ministries and community based organizations. Now an organization can develop a professional development strategy for all of the stakeholders involved in its activities. This can be done via two options:
Organizations can direct stakeholders to the Last Mile Learning open portal where they can access resources directly;
Organizations can deploy an LMS Lite where they can directly manage the learning of everyone involved in implementing the organization’s mission.
#1 Adapt resources to your context… …and your brand!
And, finally, LINGOs members can access the source document files for all of the resources in the Last Mile Learning catalog. These resources, regardless of whether they are self-led e-learning, face-to-face facilitation packages, or blended on-line content, can be edited to address the unique needs of your organization and the context in which it works. All LINGOS member agencies have full access to the source files so that they can swap out logos, insert new case studies, revise the learning objectives, or include organization-specific policies for their staff members.
So what’s next? Help us share the news of the Last Mile Learning launch! Visit the open portal, access the resources, and (most importantly) be sure to help us get the word out!
LINGOs is asking that each of its member agency contacts to identify ten people you feel will benefit from free, hi-quality learning resources for professionals in the sector. This could include:
– Individual Learners – Who can access eLearning courses on topics like Project Identification and Design, Project Planning, Delegation, Performance Management and much more;
– Trainers – Who can download facilitation guides that allow them to lead face-to-face workshops on all of the topics in the Last Mile Learning catalog;
– Organizations – Who can acquire a Learning Management portal and manage the learning of their stakeholders… …assigning courses, tracking completion status and managing learning paths.
LINGOs Member Agencies desiring to add Last Mile Learning self-paced courses to their existing Learning Management System Catalog may do so. Designated LMS Administrators can request addition of Last Mile Learning Course titles.