Update from Learning Solutions 2014! Celebrating this year’s Global Giveback & 10 years of volunteer service to LINGOs

Posted By Gus Curran, LINGOs Manager of Member Services

Gus CurranGreetings from sunny Florida! I am here at the eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions Conference, along with Eric Berg and several LINGOs members and volunteers. It has been a very interesting conference so far. I am here mainly to spread the word about LINGOs and to find eLearning professionals willing to share their talents with LINGOs members through the Global Giveback initiative. We are so grateful to the eLearning Guild for giving us this space. And of course, extremely grateful for the Guild’s generous partnership that allows LINGOs members to send someone from each member organization to this conference free of all registration fees.

Today LINGOs  announced the winner and finalists of the 2014 Global Giveback Competition at The eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida.  The Global Giveback, now in its fifth year, is a program through which learning professionals volunteer with global development and relief organizations to design and develop learning resources to help the non-profits do their good work better. The Competition is limited to eLearning courses.

This year’s winner, Samantha Yates, created a course for Last Mile Learning and The Nature Conservancy titled Influencing Without Authority. The scenario based course follows a development worker as she tries to negotiate with regional officials to introduce a project in a region where her organization has never worked previously. The engaging back and forth between the characters in the course provides a realistic and immersive learning environment that supports the learning objectives of this skill-based course. We gave a sneak peak at this great course last summer, and it’s available on LINGOs’ Last Mile Learning open portal  if you want to take a look!

In presenting this year’s Global Giveback Award, LINGOs CEO Eric Berg thanked all of the instructional designers and developers who volunteered their talents to the program this year.

LS14-Award

He also celebrated LINGOs tenth anniversary, and a decade of generosity from the eLearning community. “Your community has created over a million dollars of eLearning for LINGOs and our members. We actually are approaching TWO million dollars. Think about all the bake sales, and charity auctions, and girl scout cookies that would have to be sold to match that contribution,” said Berg.

The competition finalists include courses featuring simulation-based interactions, customized feedback, several scenario based courses, and animation. Two complete learning paths, Project Management and Financial Management, each designed for the NGO sector, were also created.   Volunteer teams, individuals, and private eLearning companies all contributed to the rich selection of courses that are now in the hands of NGO staff all over the globe through LINGOs members’ learning management systems and Last Mile Learning, a LINGOs initiative that strives to deliver world class learning to anyone working to reduce poverty and suffering in the world.

In addition to Global Giveback winner Samantha Yates and the Influencing Without Authority course, the following finalists are also being honored at the Learning Solutions Conference and SolutionFest.

Volunteer Finalist Course Title Agency
Kirby Crider Performance Management for NGOs and CBOs SightLife
Team of 17 Volunteers working through Dr. Katherine Cennamo at Virginia Tech University Project Management in the Development Sector (Learning Path, Seven Courses) LINGOs & Last Mile Learning
Microsoft and GP Strategies Financial Management in the Development Sector (Learning Path, Five Courses) LINGOs & Last Mile Learning
Learning Ninjas Emergency Needs Assessment Catholic Relief Services
Nigel Ribeiro Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Training FHI360 & InsideNGO

This year’s Global Giveback submissions were truly outstanding, making it very difficult to choose the finalists and winners. All of the courses developed through Global Giveback showcase exciting and innovative work. They are invaluable resources that will move individuals and organizations in the development and relief sector forward, increasing the impact of their work serving some of the world’s communities in greatest need.

Thanks again to the finalists, to Samantha Yates, and to all the volunteers who contributed to member organizations this year. We truly could not do what we do without you.

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Catching the PMD Pro Fever!

By John Cropper, LINGOs Director of Project Services

JohnCropper

Seven thousand. I just received the latest statistics from APMG and over seven thousand people have sat the PMDPro exam. I get excited by every landmark with PMDPro but I was reflecting over the weekend on just how incredible this is and on what has happened with PMDPro since it was launched in 2010.

World Vision engaged at regional and country level, training hundreds of staff and they now have their own trainers in East and Southern Africa. Mercy Corps merged its program guidelines with PMDPro and has rolled this out globally. Staff in one Mercy Corps office even talks about “PMDPro fever.” Catholic Relief Services has trained hundreds of staff and partners across Africa and PMDPro now forms part of its CRS Fellows program. Rainforest Alliance has trained staff across its global operations and has started a project to standardise their project management approach. The Inter- American Development Bank trained its local partners in Latin America and as a result, local training organisations are now delivering PMDPro. Plan International has trained staff across Africa and two of their staff still hold the highest pass mark! Heifer is in the process of training staff and developing their own trainers. Save, AFSC, Oxfam, the Aga Khan Foundation, UNICEF and Islamic Relief have held courses and many more organisations have sent staff to ‘open’ courses. One organisation is even talking about how to take PMDPro to two thousand staff!

Diverse Approaches

What is striking is the variety of approaches. Some want their own trainers. Others want to engage at a regional level. Some focus on the country. Some organisations are going for face to face training approaches. Others want the training to be virtual/blended. Some want to train their partner organisations. Others want to include their finance and support staff. Some organisations want to focus on PMDPro 1 – others are engaging with PMDPro 2 as well and some want to do a combination of all of these.

Common Need

Amongst all this diversity, it is interesting to think about why this is happening. Clearly, there are many motivations and needs being addressed. However, there are some common themes. One major area is that organisations want to professionalise their ability to deliver projects and take advantage of the skills and techniques that the profession of project management can offer. Some want to develop a career stream for project managers. Some organisations want to develop a common language and even processes across their projects. One senior manager told me that for the first time, their finance and program staff were holding productive conversations! Some organisations are reaching out to develop their implementing partners’ capacity and also develop a shared vocabulary for project management. Other organisations are seeking to tackle identified project management issues such as under or overspends, audit weaknesses or donor perceptions.

Overall, I feel that this represents a fascinating picture of change. Project management capacity building is clearly being used to solve a wide range of organisational challenges and what is especially rewarding is that the message is being spread by participants themselves.  There has been almost no publicity or marketing and yet … seven thousand people have engaged.

Catch the Fever – Register for a blended online course

Eventbrite - LINGOs 4-week Project Management for Development (PMD Pro1) Course / February 4th – February 27th, 2014

Eventbrite - LINGOs – Curso de 4 Semanas en Gestión de Proyectos (PMD Pro1) – Del 4 al 28 de febrero de 2014

Eventbrite - LINGOs 4-week Project Management for Development (PMD Pro2) Course / January 7th - 30th, 2014

 

For a complete 2014 calendar of Project Management open courses, please see http://lingos.eventbrite.com

LINGOs Project Services Group offers a range of training and learning opportunities for organizations. For more information, please click here.

Speed Dating and More at the InsideNGO 2013 Conference

We are at the InsideNGO annual conference this week – learning and sharing with almost 1000 professionals from international NGOs. We had a great time with colleagues from FHI360, Catholic Relief Services and PATH at today’s “Speed Dating for Organizational Learning.”

LINGOs' Gus Curran leads a speed date on Espresso Shot Learning
LINGOs’ Gus Curran leads a speed date on Espresso Shot Learning

We adapted from one of the most popular sessions at last year’s LINGOs Member Meeting for the InsideNGO audience. Each participant at the session had a chance to go on four organizational learning dates. Each “date” was carefully screened for compatibility: All were from the international development/humanitarian relief sector; all were not-for-profits; all shared common constraints and goals: to strengthen their greatest asset – through professional development and organizational learning.

Many of the speed dates are already among the Espresso Shots of Learning mentioned in our previous post, and others are coming soon! Many thanks to Kelli Tubman of Catholic Relief Services, Amanda Zehnder of PATH and Paige Layno Winn of FHI360 for sharing your learning approaches, and to all participants for some great discussion, observations, and ideas.

We’re ready for more great sessions tomorrow at #INGO2013, including a couple we’re leading. We look forward to seeing InsideNGO members at “Better planning for virtual classroom training” and a “Lunch and Learn session “LINGOs: a resource for all NGOs.”  We’ll share info and resources on several resources available to those working in learning and development for INGOs:

  • the LINGOs Group on LinkedIn a community of practice for over 1000 learning professionals who share  and discuss approaches, challenges and successes in the development and relief sectors,
  • Global Giveback through which learning professionals volunteer their highest skills with non-profits working to improve people’s lives in the developing world, as well as our new program,
  • Last Mile Learning  – which provides world-class learning opportunities at no cost to anyone working to improve lives in the developing world. Development professionals with better skills deliver better quality services and produce better results for beneficiary communities.  We encourage folks to register and start learning,
  • LINGOs Membership for not-for-profit international NGOs that seek to join the community, share innovative learning approaches, access to learning tools, shared content, project services capacity building  and opportunities to work with volunteer learning professionals.

We look forward to meeting you here in DC.

Thankful…

Guest post by Eric Berg, Co-founder and Executive Director, LINGOs

ImageI have spent a lot of time on airplanes this past year. I am about to cross the reward-rich 100K mile mark with United next week and while traveling isn’t what it used to be, one of the benefits of all that “seat time” is that it gives me lots of opportunity to stare mindlessly out of a window and let thoughts just drift through my consciousness. Inevitably, maybe just because it is “in the air” this time of year, feeling thankful floats in. Working in international development we are keenly aware of people who are challenged every day by the most basic needs of survival so it is easy to feel a need to be thankful for our comfortable circumstances. This thought quickly gives way to thoughts about what we are trying to do with LINGOs and how dependent I am on so many people.

Last Spring, I wrote about our volunteers and how important they are to LINGOs and how grateful I am for them. And perhaps with Last Mile Learning, they are more important than ever. But I realized when I was thinking about this post, that I didn’t begin to do justice to all the people I am thankful for within the LINGOs family. The earlier post did not express my thanks for the LINGOs members themselves – the agencies we owe our existence to. Without their steadfast support since we began, LINGOs would not have been able to grow into a serious force for staff development in the sector. Our member’s patience with our start-up growing pains and occasional missteps has allowed us to continue to take chances on new and better ways to serve their missions.

And I hadn’t noted how grateful I am for our partners – the many companies that have provided their products and services at little or no cost so they could be used by so many to create and deliver new learning opportunities. Those learning opportunities turned into more skills for field-based staff who translated those skills into higher impact programming for the beneficiary communities and individuals that are at the center of our work. Without our partners, LINGOs couldn’t begin to provide the services our members come to LINGOs for.

And within both our Partners and Members there are so many individuals that go above and beyond in their contributions to the larger LINGOs community. In most cases, it takes an individual or a small group of individuals to realize the potential of the LINGOs collaboration to bring the real value to their organizations and to understand the importance of supporting us. These are the individuals that become champions within their organizations to engage more people and to push their organizations to do more to support the effort and to share the work of their organizations with others in LINGOs.

Finally – and here I intend to name names – in last year’s note I neglected to express my thanks to be able to work with an extraordinary team of people. Most LINGOs members first learn about us from Marian – who wakes up each day thinking about how we can more effectively serve our members. She is supported by Ana Raquel and Lourdes who wear a number of hats supporting not only our members but also our work in Project Management and without whom questions would go unanswered and follow-up would be lacking. And of course some members believe that without Robb and Joey there would be no reason to join LINGOs. They are the lifejackets in the temperamental seas of technology.

For those members who have taken on the challenge of project management capacity building – including CRS, World Vision, Path, Plan, Mercy Corps and several others who have worked with our Project Services team – there is no LINGOs without John and Roger and Juan Manuel. They are our globe-trotting team whose families have “donated” their loved one so they could share their knowledge and experience with others in the developing world.

Even before he came to work at LINGOs, Mike was actively involved in not only creating what was to become LINGOs but was also thinking ahead of where it needed to go. He was the lead on moving our organization into the creation of the PMD Pro certification in project management and has now taken ownership of our latest initiative – to extend our platforms to local NGOs and CBOs through Last Mile Learning.

And though you might never interact with them, Martha and Tyler work in the background making sure the details of finance and technical administration get taken care of so others can serve you more directly.

This is truly an extraordinary team and I can honestly say that a day does not go by when I am not thankful for their amazing commitment to you and your missions. LINGOs is very fortunate to have attracted such a group and I hope you will add them to the “things I am thankful for” list you may be reviewing in your mind in the coming days.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.