LINGOs Partner Spotlight: Delivering Learning Everywhere with NetDimensions

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.”

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Principled Technologies Develops New Course Templates for LINGOs Members

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.

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A Drum for David Holcombe

Eric Berg, LINGOs Executive Director

It is considered a good governance practice for non-profits to limit board members to two successive terms before they must cycle off the board for at least a year or more. This keeps a board from becoming stale and injects fresh ideas into the organization. However, one of the downsides to this practice is you must lose board members that you would rather still have on the board.

This past week, I had the opportunity to recognize David Holcombe, co-Founder and CEO of the eLearning Guild and retiring LINGOs Board member in front of his “Guild family” at the Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando. David is finishing his second term on the board and will be leaving the LINGOs board after our next meeting. Needless to say, I hate to see him go.

Community spirit and corporate social responsibility

It seems like only yesterday that I first met David and the Guild’s other co-founder, Heidi Fisk, at what was then called the Annual Member Gathering in Boston. I was so impressed with what they were doing to build a community among eLearning professionals that I knew I wanted David’s help with LINGOs which was simply a start-up operation at that time. David graciously agreed to help and after I “set the hook” I slowly began to reel him into more involvement with LINGOs – first as an advisor, then as a board member and ultimately as the Chairman of the Board. During that time, LINGOs grew from our first half dozen members to the over 75 international organizations that are currently members. Each year we not only expanded our membership but also the services we provided to them and to the sector at large.

David made it possible for each LINGOs member to have a premium membership in the Guild and with it access to the rich library of resources and events on technology-supported learning. I hesitate to point this out – but knowing David, I suspect he has already done the math – that benefit alone is worth over $125,000 each and every year.

The Guild has also been instrumental in supporting the Global Giveback program and since we began that effort, over 100 courses have been completed by volunteer developers. If you put even a nominal value – let’s say $5000 on each course, that is a “donation” worth over half a million dollars to LINGOs and our members.

And David has given unselfishly of his time and traveled at his own expense to LINGOs board meetings and events. In short, David has done everything reasonably or even unreasonably asked of him.

Witches+DavidH But, as I told the audience in Orlando, it hasn’t all been hard work. For example, this past fall at the DevLearn Conference in Las Vegas which happened to coincide with Halloween I snapped the picture bat left of David and the Witches of DevLearn. (I know they say “what happens in Vegas – stays in Vegas” but that is only if there isn’t photographic evidence) You might recognize the witches as Shannon of PATH, Catriona of Conservation International, Sam of Save the Children and Jenn of Ipas. I don’t think I have ever seen a larger smile on David’s face.

A Djembe Drum for David

DavidsDrumOver the years, David has assisted me with awarding djembe drums to Finalists and Winners of the Global Giveback Competition. David has always looked longingly at those drums and we even have had to pry his fingers off the drum he was awarding to participants. So we thought it would be a great way to acknowledge our gratitude for all he has done for LINGOs and presented David with a drum of his own. Alison Smith, Executive Director of InsideNGO and incoming board chairperson and Alfredo Leone joined me on stage to present David’s drum.

Alison acknowledged she had very big shoes to fill and if you aren’t aware, David is at least as tall as my six foot four inch height so she is quite right, both literally and figuratively. She also acknowledged that David’s entire team at the Guild from Heidi to all the rest of the staff made LINGOs members feel like part of the family and their support made it easier for David to be available to LINGOs.

In receiving the drum and with characteristically modesty, David praised the Guild members and Guild staff that have been so supportive and made it clear that despite leaving the board he still intends to support LINGOs and our members as he always has done and encouraged anyone interested to get involved in way that made sense for them.

We will miss David and I am personally grateful to him for his unselfish support of our members and his willingness to be available to me whenever I needed his counsel and experience. Hopefully, from time to time, David will tap on the drum LINGOs gave him and smile knowing how much he has helped enable.

DevLearn: from geeks to witches and everything in between…

Guest Post by Shannon Cavallari, PATH; Samantha Hackett, Save the Children; Catriona Moriarty, Conservation International; and, Jenn Soliman, Ipas

 Introduction to DevLearn

We had the wonderful opportunity to attend DevLearn 12: Embracing Technologies, an event that is targeted for like-minded geeks who use new technologies to make us better at what we do. A second and equally beneficial opportunity was to strengthen relationships among the LINGOs members attending the conference.

It was important for us not only to get the most out of the conference, but also to ensure that we were frugal with costs given the location. As a partner of LINGOs, the eLearning Guild donates one Premium Membership, which also includes one admission to a conference and pre-conference workshop (a cost savings of almost $1500!). Continuing our cost-saving strategy the four of us shared two rooms, a decision which would yield way more benefits than splitting the bill. If you know anything about this group, you know that networking and sharing does not stop once you leave the conference room floor.

The eLearning Guild always hosts a fantastic conference and this year’s DevLearn was no exception. Located in the Aria Resort and Conference Center on the Las Vegas Strip, it was hard to show up the glitz and glamour of all the lights, but they did.

Favourite moments

Samantha Hackett, Save the Children UK

Wow, what an amazing week, there were some fantastic speakers at this year’s conference, and I was both excited and a little freaked out to be counted among them presenting on the Mobile Learning stage for a session called The Potential for Cloud Learning with an amazing co-speaker Gerry Griffin from Skill Pill M-Learning. The session looked at the challenges organizations like ours face both culturally and technologically and how to best approach these challenges using innovations like mobile learning, how delivery mode impacts the style and shape of the learning content and how best to take advantage of the cloud.

What a great opportunity this was and looking back on my first eLearning Guild conference three years ago, where everything seemed so new and complicated, it highlighted to me, how far we as LINGOs members have come over the last few years. I was subjected to the usual challenges of a speaker (failing equipment, background noise, dessert trolley arriving mid-way through), but I really enjoyed it and I would encourage other LINGOs members to think about taking the plunge and becoming a speaker at the next eLearning Guild event- as we really are doing some innovative “stuff.”

This was a truly wonderful week with some great sessions, but it also provided many networking opportunities. I met some really fantastic people who were very interested in the work that we do, so I saw this not only as an opportunity for ourselves to look at how we could support our own individual work, but as a way to highlight the work that LINGOs is doing and encourage people to get involved. After the Welcome Reception Halloween night, it seemed that everyone knew about the LINGOs witches.

Finally, it was great to use the DevLearn app to keep up-to-date on agendas, vendors, speakers, and thankfully, maps . I hope next year, we can do away with paper all together.

Left to right: Samantha Hackett, Catriona Moriarty, Eric Berg, Jenn Soliman, Shannon Cavallari.

Jenn Soliman, Ipas

There are two moments that stick out in my mind about this conference: the pre-conference workshop and the Tin Can API session.

Full of confidence, Samantha, Shannon and I initially enrolled into the Intermediate to Advanced Storyline workshop. After all, we were confident in our Articulate Studio abilities, had downloaded and played in Storyline and even watched a few demos and tutorials. Unfortunately, this was not enough and at the first break, with our heads down, we moved to the Introduction to Storyline workshop led by Ron Price of Yukon Learning. The Yukon Learning team led us through exercises to gain knowledge on the basics of Storyline.  I feel much more confident in my Storyline skills and look forward to putting my skills into practice on my next course. Our lesson learned: just because you are confident in one tool doesn’t mean those skills or knowledge will easily translate to another. Articulate Studio and Articulate Storyline are significantly different.

Tin Can API is an entirely new concept to me, one that I probably still don’t fully understand. That being said, it is moments like this that excite me the most about attending these conferences. I feel like I am on the edge of innovation and I can’t wait to learn more. I attended a session with Tin Can experts and their knowledge and explanation of Tin Can API enticed me to learn more.

Here is a shortened explanation of what Tin Can API is from their website: The Tin Can API is a brand new learning technology specification that opens up an entire world of experiences (online and offline). This API captures the activities that happen as part of learning experiences. A wide range of systems can now securely communicate with a simple vocabulary that captures this stream of activities.

I think this learning technology creates many opportunities for data to support our programs and is something we should not miss out on.

In addition to learning at DevLearn, we were also able to build our relationships by spending time together. On Saturday, after the conference ended, Shannon, Samantha and I drove to the Hoover Dam. We arrived just as the sun was starting to set. The reflection on the water was magnificent and the mountains looked like they were painted pink. It was a beautiful sight.

This was the first time I have attended DevLearn and let me just say, I completely geeked out. I attended the conference with two specific objectives in mind: to walk away with a better skillset and use of Storyline and to wrap my head around the term gamification. And of course, network.

As Jenn pointed out, the Introduction to Storyline workshop was excellent. The trainers, the materials, and the hands-on activities were exactly what I needed to start to think about how and when I would use this new tool within PATH.

There were a ton of interesting sessions, sometimes overlapping. It wasn’t a problem identifying what to attend; it was identifying which session I wanted to attend more. In some instances, this is where teamwork paid off as some of my LINGOs friends would attend one session while I attended another. Later in the evening we would debrief and share notes.

I attended a few sessions on gamification, a term used to describe the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in non-game contexts. One particular session, Understanding the Value of Games and Gamification for Serious Learning, not only presented on the topic but demonstrated how to incorporate games into learning. Dividing the room into two teams, we used a polling technology and texted our answers to questions the presenter asked. I’d like to point out that my team won J I walked away from DevLearn with an understanding on how, when and why you would try to incorporate gamification into your design.

We used the LINGOs booth as our central meeting place during the conference. On more than one occasion, I spoke to interested designers and vendors who wanted to know what LINGOs was, how I was affiliated and what they could do to get involved. It’s an amazing feeling to sing the praises of LINGOs and the member agencies. To discuss with confidence the Last Mile Learning initiative, Global Giveback and what the consortium does as a group. I think I may be pretty good at this gig, for I was abandoned by Eric at least once to man the booth due to a “meeting” he had. Either that or he knows I have no problem asking people to donate their time or resources to such a worthy consortium. Next time, I think Eric owes me dinner! 😉

Catriona Moriarty, Conservation International

It’s early Wednesday morning, and I’ve finally arrived in the glistening Las Vegas desert! With Hurricane Sandy a swirling blur behind me, I am ready to dip a toe into DevLearn! As anticipated, it is an enticing mix of techies, hash tags, QR codes, and innovative TECHNOLOGY! My red-eye wander shifts to wide-eyed wonder after the first of many coffees in the hall. My first session is Tracy Bissette of WeeJee Learning! She is brilliant. Tracy introduces an instructional design challenge, and three different panelists. They each pitch their unique methodologies for planning, designing, and delivering training solutions to solve for the challenge. It’s super interesting to see their different approaches, mock ups, and the platforms they leverage to launch! It gives me unique insight into the questions one needs to ask up front before moving eLearning ideas into design, introduces me to iBooks authoring (love!) and reinforces the importance of understanding your audience. With each concurrent session, I settle deeper and deeper into the dizzying and dazzling technology dose that is DevLearn!

After hours, we do find some fun! It is Vegas, after all… Our LINGOs crew rallies and we find ourselves sharing new insights, knowledge, and many questions! What is this Project Tin Can thing all about anyway?!? We are messaging and tweeting and connecting and most importantly, inspired by everyone around us. It’s all very sparky and cool! And yes, there are some costumes and cocktails involved!

After three days of tech madness and stimulating discoveries, we are poolside, perusing the DemoFest guide, and soaking up some serious sun. Aaaaaaaah! DevLearn. See you next year!

Closing thoughts

A conference is just that…a conference. It’s what you make of your time while you are there that matters; what sessions you choose to attend, soaking up new information and skills, networking, and strengthening relationships. We each came to the conference with our own objectives, but I think we not only made the most of our time while we were there. We also strengthened the relationship between each other and are still using “whatsapp” to group text regularly in preparation for meeting up at the Lingos conference.  A special thanks to David Holcombe from the eLearning Guild for your and the Guild’s participation in LINGOs.

Left to right: Catriona Moriarty, Shannon Cavallari, Samantha Hackett, Jenn Soliman.

Insights – LINGOs partnership strengthens individuals and teams for global development

Eric Berg, Executive Director, LINGOs

When I was in the software business, there was an engineering manager with whom I never could seem to communicate. Somehow, no matter how much information I gave her, the time it took to make get a decision was always frustrating. After several uncomfortable confrontations I just came to accept that we would always have problems. This was unfortunate because we needed to work together on several important projects. It was only later I realized that what I perceived as procrastinating was her desire to get it right and really was a preference and style difference. Had I been a little more aware of that, I might have been able to provide information that would have improved both our communications and the speed of activities.

I want to share with you my excitement in having Insights (www.insights.com) as a new partner for LINGOs. A global company with many Fortune 500 companies as clients, Insights provides a wide range of products and services that help their customers:

o Develop individual awareness and effectiveness

o Build more productive teams

o Develop high performing leaders.

Insights’ products are based on Insights Discovery, a four color model based on the work of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. It measures a person’s preferences and provides an individual with an extensive personality profile which identifies strengths and areas for development. Each profile includes suggestions for development that can be put into practice the very next day.

Each LINGOs member representative attending the LINGOs Member Meeting in November will gain access to the Insights Preference Evaluator and will receive a custom 20 page personal profile. Members attending the meeting can also register for an all day workshop led by Insights staff to explore the meaning and application of their individual profile.

You are probably familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and may have completed that instrument and studied it sometime in your schooling. You might even remember your “type.” In some ways, the Insights Discovery model is similar in that it analyzes your responses to questions of preference and then feeds back a profile of your preferences and communication style. What is particularly attractive about the Insights’ model is that it has been extremely well “packaged” to make it simple to administer and apply in an organizational setting.

Imagine…

Ibrahim, the CD for Sudan, just sent Simon, the Regional Program Quality Manager, his final monitoring plan for the new microfinance program.

Ibrahim has already sent two versions of the plan, and there’s been a meeting and two tense telephone conversations about its adequacy.

Ibrahim can’t imagine why it is taking so long for a decision to made, while Simon cannot understand why there was such a rush on such an important document.

Both Simon and Ibrahim are considered outstanding in their roles and yet everyone knows they simply can’t get along. Many who know them both say it’s just bad “Chemistry.” 

In fact, it is more probably a question of opposing preferences and styles. With some Insights into these differences, Ibrahim and Simon can take their work and that of their agency to the next level. 

But don’t let the simplicity fool you; it is extremely revealing. I guess the best way to illustrate that is with my personal experience with the tool. Before we began serious conversations with Insights, I was offered the opportunity to complete the Preference Evaluator and get the personal profile I mentioned earlier. Being familiar with the Myers-Briggs and other instruments, I was eager to see the similarities and the differences. I completed the Evaluator and waited for my “report.” When it arrived, I quickly read through the resulting document and was startled with the accuracy and detail of what was produced. This may be best illustrated by the comments of my wife, Kathy, with whom I shared the report. She said to me, “I don’t know who these people are or how they know you so well but they may even know you better than I do after 30 years of marriage!” LINGOs Director of Member Services, Marian Abernathy, (with whom I also shared the profile) echoed Kathy’s comments when she said with a smile in her voice, “They pretty much “nailed” you.”

Some LINGOs members reading this know me well enough to appreciate some of the specific comments from my personal profile that Kathy and Marian are referring to. For example, under the section titled “Managing Eric” there is a list of “What Eric Needs.” One item says “Eric needs objective, direct and honest feedback…” to which is added the caution “- stand well back!” Everyone that has read the profile has stopped and laughed out loud in agreement at the caution.

Other sections identified weaknesses around listening adequately to others, making decisions hastily and my high sense of urgency creating stress for others. You can ask Robb Allen or Marian or other LINGOs staff members about those and I am sure each will have stories verifying the accuracy of those assessments.

So why am I sharing all this? I hope that LINGOs members will begin to realize the potential for using Insights Discovery to improve the communications and performance of the teams working within their organizations. During the LINGOs 2012 Member Meeting, a group from Insights will share how the Insights Discovery model is being used in corporations around the world. You’ll have an opportunity to see how members might begin to think of ways of applying it to staff selection, leadership development, team building, individual development plans and a host of other targeted initiatives. Those interested in a more in depth exposure will have the chance to attend the post-meeting workshop led by Doug Upchurch and the Insights Team and spend the entire day exploring their own profile as well as techniques for applying the model in their organizations.

If you can’t attend the LINGOs member meeting be on the lookout for announcements of how LINGOs Member Agencies can access this new LINGOs benefit. Corporations around the world are spending thousands and thousands of dollars on this tool. Through the generosity of Insights, it will be part of member agencies’ core LINGOs benefits in 2013. We are very grateful to Insights and look forward to sharing stories of how their generous support has made a difference in the impact of the work of LINGOs members.

The LINGOs 2012 Meeting is focused on engagement. For details, check out the Sept 10 post on LINGOs 2012 Member Meeting 

LINGOs Community Grateful for Highly Skilled Volunteers

By Eric Berg, Executive Director, LINGOs

 One of the founding principles of LINGOs was to provide a community of like-minded individuals who could come together to make learning experiences more accessible to staff and partners working in the developing world.  Our members are a large part of that community, our private sector partners who contribute their products and services with the goal of enhancing Learning Where it Really Matters are also part of that community. A third and essential part of the LINGOs community are our volunteers. In honor of National Volunteer Appreciation week and on behalf of all LINGOs members I want to express our gratitude for the volunteers who not only have served LINGOs in the past year, but also those who have volunteered through LINGOs directly with our member organizations.

One of the unique characteristics of LINGOs volunteers is they are able to use their highest skills to contribute to the work of LINGOs and its members. In the past, volunteers were often asked to do tasks that needed to be done like answering phones, processing mail and all kinds of physical labor. However, these were not tasks that exploited the unique professional skills that many volunteers often brought to the work.  While occasionally someone with accounting or legal or marketing skills were used in those areas, for the most part, volunteers simply were viewed as surplus labor.

The volunteers we speak with are eager to be a part of the work LINGOs and its members do in the developing world to build the skills of field-based staff. While most are not able to take time off and travel to these far-away places, they would still like to know that their contribution is making a difference in the field. Fortunately, there is much that needs to be done that can be completed remotely without ever leaving home or office. 

In the past two years through the LINGOs/eLearning Guild eLearning Global Giveback program, over 50 courses have been created by more than 100 volunteer instructional designers, developers and learning professionals. These course have been taken by people around the world and the work of the volunteers is being felt in remote parts of the globe.

In addition to the outstanding Global Giveback Volunteers (179 who signed up for GG2 and the 150+ eLearning developers, instructional designers and gamers who are on the eLearning Global Giveback Group on LinkedIn),  many other volunteers have shared their expertise, advice and time with LINGOs and its members this year.

In the past few months alone LINGOs itself has benefitted from:

Instructional Technology graduate students who have interned with LINGOs on projects, from assessing the need and support for a contextualized curriculum for blended and eLearning for NGOs to helping  define the learning objectives and develop the examination question for the PMD Pro certification– we thank Jennifer May and Jenny McAtee from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Sharing marketing knowledge, skill and expertise to help us build our own capacity to clarify and communicate what LINGOs has to offer to potential members, partners and other volunteers – we are grateful to Bryce Johannes.

Facilitating the identification of needs, processes and resources to update LINGOs’ web architecture, to help us better serve our existing members, our potential members and their global staff, to engage partners and volunteers, we thank Celia Bohle, Kevin Kussman and Bryce Johannes.

Introducing us to potential partners, serving as a strategic advisor to a new and relatively small organization, building templates that will be of use to many new members, we thank Ruth Kustoff.

For providing his engaging and interactive virtual classroom training to build the capacity of over 400 humanitarian relief, international development, social justice and conservation workers from the staff of our member organizations so that they can design and deliver engaging virtual classroom training, we are grateful to Greg Davis.

For reviewing and juding the eLearning Global Giveback competition this year, we thank Jane BozarthGreg Davis,   Linda EnglishJane HartJim KlaasPatti Shank, and  Roger Steele.

The individual and corporate Instructional designers, eLearning developers who participated in the eLearning Global Giveback not only contributed the courses they developed, but also mentored and coached individuals and organizations to build their capacity to create their own courses in the future. Many of these courses will benefit not only the global staff of the organizations that received them, but the global staff of other LINGOs member agencies (probably well over 100,000 international development, relief, conservation and social justice workers), but in some cases, such as Amanda Warner’s winning course for ACCION and the Smart Campaign, will benefit anyone working in microfinance.

We are indeed fortunate to have had so many volunteers give LINGOs and our members this tremendous gift of time, expertise and service.