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.

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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

Top 100 Learning Tools for 2008

The Centre for Learning & Performance recently published its yearly list of the Top 100 Tools for Learning.  The list is a fun and informative read that I enjoyed on a number of levels.   As I reflect on the rankings of the list I realize there are three principle observations that come to mind:

First, I was happy to see that a number of the  tools on the list are being employed extensively by LINGOs and its member agencies –  including Articulate Rapid e-Learning Suite (#22), Jing (#28), Elluminate (#53), and more.  It is exciting to see that we are actively adopting and deploying many of the leading learning tools and that our approaches and strategies are aligned with others in the field.

Second, there were some surprising results on the list.  One in particular, but definitely not the only, was  the number one ranking for del.icio.us – a bookmarking tool I use daily, but would not have included on the my top twenty list.  The prominence of del.icio.us and other surprising entries like  like YouTube (#18), iTunes (#27), Google Maps (#42), etc.) have prompted be to reassess the way I considered applications as learning tools.

Finally, there is a treasure trove of additional software applications that I previously was unaware of and I now realize can be extremely useful.  For example, I have already downloaded the Cute PDF Writer (#70) and Audacity ( #11) to help me convert PDF files and record sound files.  Like many of the applications on the list, the two listed above are free and are ideally suited to address some of the most common challenges I have as a learning professional.  Other tools on the list are exciting new approaches to learning, collaboration and community building that I look forward to further expoloring over the coming year.  More specifically, some of the most intriguing products include Ning, GIMP and VoiceThread.

What do you think about the Top 100 Learning Tools List?  Share your experience/thoughts regarding the list by  contributing to the comments section of this blog post.