Making the Most of eCornell: A Conversation with George Nyamao of MSH

george nyamaoGeorge Nyamao, an Operations Associate at Management Sciences for Health’s Kenya office, has completed a number of certificates in management and human resources through eCornell’s generous partnership with LINGOs. A self-described “family man” who loves people, music, nature, and his work, George also holds a Diploma in Management from the Technical University of Mombasa and an MBA in Finance from the University of Nairobi – a testament to eCornell’s versatility for learners of all educational backgrounds. George was kind enough to speak with us by email about his learning experience, the value of continuing education for his organization, and the colleagues he’s inspired along the way (our words, not his).

George, you’ve earned 5 separate certificates from eCornell through MSH’s program with LINGOs. What led you to seek these certificate programs?

It all started as a compliance effort in my first year at MSH, where it was a requirement for all employees to do the course “The Power of Managing Your Time and Personal Priorities”. I learned many practical approaches to increase my output by just thinking through how I could spend my time to achieve more and still maintain great working teams around me that are supportive and equally productive. Further navigation of this eCornell course showed me it was part of a series of other interesting courses leading to a certificate in Supervisory Skills. [Ed: more about the certificate here]. I discussed with my supervisor Peter about my interest and sought his approval, which he gave readily, and he pointed me to the fact that MSH offers great opportunities for quality personal development. The rest is where I am now!

How has your experience with the eCornell courses impacted you?

I have changed the way I work. It is evident. I have learned to listen more. I have learned to be more assertive and focused on what matters most on my priority list and also the team’s priority list. More importantly, I have gained satisfaction from having to execute my roles even in the midst of time and resource constraints. My interpersonal relations have greatly improved. I can team up with anybody and achieve great results, even the most difficult individuals. I now perceive challenges positively as opportunities for me to offer a solution. Solutions reside in the midst of challenges. Everyone can be enabled to lead in their locality and harness local resources to perform great work that improves the social wellbeing of the people.

George quote 1What has MSH been able to do or do differently as a result of your experience with eCornell?

The most commendable is that staff in MSH have appreciated that it is possible to grow their skills while working and impact the delivery of service. During my studentship at eCornell, I encouraged my colleagues Martin Githungo (driver), Brian Ayugi (Office Assistant), Irene Kihara (Administrative Assistant), Roseline Wandera (Operations Associate) and Rosemary Njue (Procurement Officer) to enrol with eCornell. I am aware that most of them have achieved certification and others are at various stages of their certificate series program. The MSH model with LINGOs is an open cheque to all MSHers to put their names on at total benefit to them and no cost to them. I commend MSH and encourage it to keep offering these courses to employees.

George quote 2

Any thoughts you want to share with LINGOs and other LINGOs member organizations (80+ international development/humanitarian organizations)?

There is growing demand for skills in monitoring and evaluation, program evaluation and assessment/audit. This is an area to target for course offerings to improve skills in the NGO sector for setting realisable targets/goals.

To existing and potential LINGOs members, eCornell courses are great models for leveraging value, by spreading the benefit of staff development programs over a big team. eCornell offers high quality courses at unbelievably low budget costs per staff member compared to conventional individual staff sponsorship programs.

Anything you want to express to eCornell?

The quality of training materials and faculty is commendable. The print course materials offer great reference. The animated presentations and videos are great learning aids, as are the array of multicultural Teaching Assistants and students who enrich the courses with global cases and experiences shared during discussions and forums. I am glad to remain an active Alumni of Cornell University.

George, thank you!

And to all LINGOs members: it’s always great to hear how member benefits have made a difference for your organization, whether they’re LINGOs learning programs or products donated by our corporate partners. If you have a story you’d like to share, please email marian@lingos.org

LINGOs member organizations have access to an unlimited number of subsidized seats for their staff in eCornell’s award-winning courses and certificate programs. For more information on eCornell, please visit www.ecornell.com and reach out to your organization’s designated contact to LINGOs.

Advertisements

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.