The top 3 things the LINGOs community wanted the new CEO to know

Guest Post by LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx

Chris_Proulx

LINGOs members consistently want more community and networking opportunities. That is the most common message that I have heard from members of the LINGOs community during my first three months as CEO. Through a variety of formal and informal listening events with LINGOs members, I have heard a lot of what you value about LINGOs and also what you aspire it to become.  Now, I am able to summarize some of the key themes that have come from feedback exercises at the Portland Annual Meeting and the London Members Meetup, the 2015 Membership Renewal Survey and individual conversations with many of you.

Community and Networking

By far, the most valued component of your membership is your ability to network and share best practices with each other. So, naturally you want even more value from the community. First and foremost, you’d like additional opportunities to meet in-person, not just virtually, and not just at the LINGOs Annual Meeting. (Shameless plug: this year’s Annual Meeting is being hosted by Heifer in Little Rock, AR, USA on October 15 and 16—and, attendance for one participant is included in your 2015 dues!) You want smaller sessions where we can have more focused dialogue and more opportunities to build local relationships.

So, we are going to facilitate more regional LINGOs events in 2015:

  • London: I facilitated a UK/Europe members meeting at Plan on Jan 14—about 15 folks attended, networked and heard from Speexx, our new language learning partner.
  • Boston: a self-organized member meetup at HREA on Feb 5 with ideas and feedback sent to LINGOs staff.
  • Nairobi: I am organizing a LINGOs member meetup for members and key contacts in the region on Feb 24. There’s still time to sign up!
  • Orlando: Gus Curran and I will be meeting with members attending the Ecosystem and Learning Solutions  conference Mar 25-27.
  • More on the way: we are looking to host a DC area meeting and perhaps a Bangkok/SE Asia meeting and very likely will do another London meeting later in the year. If you want to host something in your area, let me know.

In addition, you are also interested in improving how we develop and share best practice deliverables around topics of interest. So, you want to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk. This is on our radar screen, and we have a couple of interested members willing to take the lead on a couple of topics. Stay tuned for more details.

Reach, Reach, Reach

I have also heard a lot about reaching your field staff, including more support for occasionally connected users, mobile content, and content in more languages.  As you all know, there are a number of complex and inter-related issues, but we share your commitment to deliver learning to the last mile. To start, thanks to the financial support of two members, Goal and Relief International, the LINGOs Last Mile Learning online courses for PMDPro, as well as the PMDPro guide, will be available in Arabic later this spring to complement their availability in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Please reach out me and/or connect us with your country and regional staff to we can continue extend the reach of our PMDPro expertise to where you are working.

In addition, the new LINGOs Learning Platform will be mobile-ready, so that will be a big step forward, especially for mobile-ready courses that you are developing. However, many of our commercial content providers are not yet providing us with mobile-ready courses. So, we will need to work with our content providers to help prioritize this need.  Our Last Mile Learning courses provide us with more flexibility but there is also work to be done. If your organization is interested in supporting our effort to develop and deploy these modules in a mobile format, please let me know.

Ensuring that we reach the field with appropriate, accessible, and affordable learning is a value that is shared by the LINGOs team. Let’s continue the dialogue to help us prioritize the most important courses and benefits, and where needed, to identify the financial support to make it happen. LINGOs has a long history of deploying new solutions thanks to the shared financial support of several of its members that helps us to leverage the engagement of private sector partners.

Onboarding and Curation

The third big theme was how LINGOs could do a better job in making new member start-up more of a turnkey process and how, for all members, we could do a better job packaging and curating the benefits and courses. LINGOs has become a victim of its own success; there are so many benefits available, that it has become difficult to manage. As the newest member of the LINGOs team—I agree; it has been difficult for me to get my head around it, so I can appreciate your needs.

Tacking this is a big challenge, but I would like to highlight two items in the works. First, based on our lessons from the LLP training, all new LINGOs members will now be on-boarded to LINGOs in quarterly cohorts. This will provide two benefits: a more focused opportunity to work with others on how to best deploy LINGOs internally and an immediate community for new members upon joining for broader best practice sharing.

Second, we will be co-hosting a webinar on April 16 with David Kelly from the E-Learning Guild on the topic of Curation that will be followed by an in-depth workshop at the Annual Meeting in Little Rock in October. Let’s use this to jump start our collective efforts to curate the best of LINGOs and provide all of us in the community with new tools and techniques to help our organizations and learners be more effective and more focused in their professional development.

So, these are the big three topics. I also heard plenty more about blended learning, social learning, technical course content, management and leadership development, monitoring and evaluation, employee onboarding, online communities, LINGOs working groups, and more.  The team and I have ideas and potential projects around many of these topics as well and we will share more on some of these topics later in the year.

In closing, it has been exciting for me to discover this robust, generous, and committed community at LINGOs and one that I look forward to working with on a number of initiatives where we can clearly be “better together.” Thanks for your hospitality in welcoming me to LINGOs. I hope to see each of you in the coming months.

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Learning in NGOs – LINGOs 2014 Member Meeting

2014-04 New Membership Logo - CLEAR 669x200Each year, for the past decade, LINGOs has convened a meeting of its members, to share learning, ideas, approaches, lessons and challenges about learning in NGOs.  This year, our guest speakers Kevin Carroll and Vikas Narula will catalyze new ideas and approaches for strengthening engagement building communities and networks of learning.

Members come from organizations large and small, from faith-based and secular NGOs, from organizations dedicated to humanitarian relief, international development, health, conservation and social justice. What they have in common (apart from membership in LINGOs) is a desire to strengthen the skills of their staff around the world, using appropriate, affordable, accessible learning approaches – most often involving technology to bridge the distances, so that their colleagues can do their good work… better.

This November, Mercy Corps, a founding member of LINGOs will host the LINGOs Tenth Anniversary Member Meeting. LINGOs Members can take advantage of being in Portland with a two-day pre-meeting training workshop on the LINGOs Learning Platform – a great opportunity for individuals responsible for designing, deploying and/or managing their organization’s Learning Platform. Space is limited for this pre-meeting event – so sign up now!

In addition to the two-day meeting, we’ll celebrate our tenth year at a gala reception with our founders, board and partners.

Why attend the Member Meeting?

Why attend the Member Meeting? Let us explain, in a word (or Acrostic):

Learn new skills and tools

LINGOs is introducing the state of the art LINGOs Learning Platform in coming months, and the member meeting and pre-meeting training workshop are the best opportunities to learn about the powerful capabilities of the platform and how to use them to greatest effect in your organization. Some of the new features include online community groups, resource wikis, online help, learning paths, multiple catalogs and a multitude of reporting options. If you want to be prepared to lay the groundwork for rolling out the LLP, you should attend the meeting. If you are in the early adopter group, or planning to deploy the LLP in early 2015, make plans to participate in the two-day pre-meeting training event.

Inspire yourself and your organization

LINGOs 2014 Keynoter Kevin Carroll, author, speaker and agent for social change inspires organizations, businesses and individuals to embrace their spirit of play and creativity to maximize their human potential and sustain more meaningful business and personal growth. Gain inspiration, catalyze your learning and strengthen learning in your NGO.

Network with Global NGO Learning Professionals

Do you work alone or in a small team? For many NGOs, providing learning and capacity building for global staff is a one man or one woman show. The LINGOs Member Meeting is your network — build a global team to help you throughout the year.  Like a priceless piece of art, or the cost of finding that unique part that makes your machine run, it’s hard to calculate the value of networking among a community of peers. The annual LINGOs Member Meeting is THE networking opportunity for those interested in strengthening Learning in international NGOs.

Get energized about organizational learning and the LLP

Excited about launching a new platform? The two-day pre-meeting training workshop, and many sessions at the Member Meeting will energize you and your colleagues about the potential to really leverage learning resources globally across your organization – to help your staff around the world access learning they need to achieve your mission.  

Open your learning to new approaches

Each year, members who participate in the LINGOs Member Meeting tell us that the time spent at the meeting is the most valuable learning they’ve engaged in all year. They open up a wealth of new ideas and approaches they can use when they get back – some immediately and others that can be adapted and put in place in coming months.

Social

Learning is social! Make connections, form collaborative relationships, get more involved with LINGOs (the full team, including Project Services, Last Mile Learning and our full staff). You can immediately put into practice what keynoter Vikas Narula has to say about informal networks! We’ve built in networking opportunities and plenty of structured interactions to help catalyze your learning and build synergy among members. We’re planning another “Speed Dating” session where quickly and informally share innovative programs, as well as an informal gathering (wine tasting) the night before the member meeting and a gala event to celebrate our tenth year!

Eventbrite - LINGOs 2014 Member Meeting

 Want more info?

View the LINGOs 2014 Member Meeting webpage

Read about the  meetings from 2013  and 2012 or contact Membership Director Marian Abernathy for more info.

 

 

Networking…it starts with a single conversation

Guest Post by Shannon Cavallari, PATH, and Erica DePiero, IRC

The above conversation was the catalyst for a fantastic learning and networking session with our fellow LINGOs members.  We chose to hold the meeting on Friday, January 14, 2011 which preceded Martin Luther King weekend.   Hosted at International Relief Committee (IRC) in New York, the session lasted six hours, included eight representatives from four different states and five LINGOs agencies.   The purpose of the meeting was to learn more about what our peers were doing so that we may support each other better in the future. 

Through email, we brainstormed ideas for topics of discussion and agreed upon a loose agenda:

  • What does CRS currently do for on-boarding?  What is being revamped?  Why is it being changed?  What worked/what didn’t?
  • Management/supervisory course programs/certificates

o   Justin is probably the furthest along on this topic – perhaps he can lead this discussion.

o   Topic is on Shannon’s work-plan. 

o   Topic is part of CRS’s strategy.

  • Succession planning – CRS is starting work here.  Anybody else?
  • Leadership Development programs – what has worked?  What hasn’t? 
  • Exchange programs/Developmental assignments – does anyone have/manage a formal system for this? 
  • Share work-plans – what are your big ticket items for this year?

 We discussed each of these topics, allowing conversations to naturally flow and progress.  As topics evolved, we also found ourselves discussing online Performance Management Systems and pay for performance.  “I really valued discussing the approach that IRC is taking to provide a rich on-boarding experience for all staff globally,” said Justin Birtwell from Save the Children US. “IRC has created an effective relationship between its global service and the field that needs the service.  The on-boarding toolkits for each new employee must make a professional impression – it did on me!”

There was much laughter, sharing of resources, processes, and ideas.  On more than one occasion, we brainstormed ideas to challenges that one of us were facing.  “I appreciated strengthening the relationships.  Justin and I have been on many of the same LinkedIn discussion threads, but we have never had the opportunity to meet in person,” said Shannon Cavallari from PATH.   “I was also delighted to find someone who is excited about the techie part of eLearning design (Tony Jirapokakul) and I am excited to work with him in April.”

Back L to R: Erica DePiero, IRC; Tony Jirapokakul, IRC; Justin Birtwell, Save the Children US; Shannon Cavallari, PATH.

Front: Adriana Noll, CRS; Marie McNamee, InsideNGO; Kiersten Clark, Save the Children US; Kelli Tubman, CRS.

 

Networking with your fellow LINGOs members shouldn’t be reserved for the annual fall meeting.  Email, Skype, LinkedIn, Virtual Coffee’s and scheduled face-to-face time can be invaluable.  Another face-to-face networking opportunity will take place on Friday, April 8th at IRC in NY.  If you are interested in attending, please contact Erica DePiero at Erica.Depiero (at) Rescue.org.  Make a point to find out who’s in your area and connect today!