Celebrating 10 Years – Part 2

Eric Berg, LINGOs Co-Founder and CEO

EricBerg (1)2014 is LINGOs’ tenth year. In last week’s post, I reflected on LINGOs’ first decade. Beginning as a consortium with modest goals of sharing ideas and experiences, today LINGOs is a capacity building organization with more than 75 member organizations; a project services group that led the creation of a contextualized project management certification now completed by over 7000 development sector professionals; and with the 2013 launch of Last Mile Learning, LINGOs provides access to a range of learning opportunities for anyone working to improve people’s lives in the developing world.

In celebration of our first ten years, LINGOs is planning a number of events to recognize the amazing individuals, volunteers, partners, members and others that have accompanied us this far and helped LINGOs become what it is and enable us to grow from a small consortium to a capacity building organization that helps those doing good…do it better!

Celebrating Volunteers

In March, we will be acknowledging all the volunteers that helped LINGOs and its members in so many ways but in particular helped us with world class instructional design and development skills. Some of the most talented designers and developers in the world have contributed literally thousands of hours and over a million dollars’ worth of professional services. Their involvement has enabled LINGOs and its members to create eLearning content on a broad range of management, communications, technical and development-specific topics.

“… I thank you very much for the effort you make to help everybody who needs knowledge gain it freely. May God bless you all.”

– Jean Pierre wrote from Rwanda, where he recently learned from volunteer-created courseware from Last Mile Learning 

The Learning Solutions 2014 Conference in Orlando in March when so many of the eLearning Guild community gather will give us a chance to celebrate the contribution of the volunteers and to share how the courses are being used and what a difference volunteers have made. We will also be acknowledging the generous support that David Holcombe and Heidi Fisk the co-founders of the eLearning Guild have given to LINGOs.

Thanking Partners

In May, at the ASTD International Conference (American Society for Training and Development) we will be honoring the second group that make LINGOs possible – the many corporate partners that have been providing world class course content, learning development tools, professional development services and state-of-the-art platforms so LINGOs members can provide services to their staff around the world that would otherwise be impossible. Some of our partners, like IntraLearn, Articulate and Blackboard have been with us since LINGOs was started. Others like Skillsoft, Net Dimensions and Yukon Learning are new this year and represent the latest expansion of corporate support.

Appreciating Members 

Later in the year at a leading development sector conference, we will be highlighting the work and contributions of our members. One of the founding principles of LINGOs was for organizations to share their learning experiences and products among each other thereby saving money and propagating best practices. We have numerous examples of member organizations that have produced outstanding courses and implemented LINGOs products and tools in innovative ways and then invested their time and resources helping other LINGOs members deploy the products and systems they created.

Finally, next November in Portland, Oregon, we will have our Tenth anniversary Member Meeting where we will both look back to celebrate where we have been and more importantly look forward to collectively imagine what LINGOs can become in the next ten years. Mercy Corps has offered to host our meeting which is fitting because it was one of the original six NGOs that attended the organizing meeting that took place in November 2004 at The Nature Conservancy. We have invited the original board members to join us to be recognized for their pioneering work and we hope to have some other surprises for everyone that come to Portland so mark your calendars now.

Saying Farewell

And of course as has been previously announced, Portland will be my final LINGOs meeting. As you can see, it will be hard to say “goodbye” to LINGOs at the end of this coming year.

  • We’ve transformed from a small community with monthly calls led by Linda English (then of Save the Children) to a vibrant community of members actively engaged in providing innovative, professional development opportunities to their organizations in ways that constantly amaze me.
  • Our project services group has run with the PMD Pro project management certification that LINGOs pioneered in 2010. The team is innovating learning approaches that fit the needs of our sector, with face to face, online and blended approaches to learning and reinforcement. Providing training to individuals and training organizations, we’re pleased that (at present) over 7000 individuals have taken the PMD Pro exam and more and more organizations incorporating the tools and techniques into their standard processes.
  • And through our Last Mile Learning program, every day more individuals throughout the globe are accessing content on basic management, financial management and project. In December, Jean Pierre in Rwanda emailed us “… I thank you very much for the effort you make to help everybody who needs knowledge gain it freely. May God bless you all.”

Celebration and Catalyst

In last week’s post, reflecting on LINGOs first decade, I noted that this anniversary celebration is also a time to look forward.  This is a time to imagine what’s possible, to leverage the accomplishments of our members, partners, volunteers, board and individual and organizational learners around the world as a catalyst; this is a moment “to dream of things that never were… and ask why not?”

LINGOs brings together vast resources of a large community of innovative private sector partners, leading global development organizations and talented and committed individuals working to change the world.We bring an entrepreneurial approach, knowledge of the learning needs, community and technology to enable change. I invite you to join us – what can we do together? why not?

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LINGOs: Reflections on the First Decade and Imagining the Second

Eric Berg, LINGOs Co-Founder and CEO

EricBerg (1)Ten years! Ten years! It can’t be that long. I just filed the 501(c)3 papers a little while ago – or so it seems. But a check of the paperwork says 2005 which means 2014 will be the tenth year for LINGOs. My plan was very clear – volunteer as a staff person while Linda English from Save the Children, Mike Culligan from Catholic Relief Services, Meg Burns from Care, Mignon Mazique from Mercy Corps and Lisa Ferris from Heifer International decided what they wanted to do with the organization – maybe three years max. Then we would find a capable person from the sector to take over and lead LINGOs into the future. I could then watch from afar as the organization took off. But as they say about “best laid plans of mice and men…..” mine went astray many years ago — and how lucky for me.

Reflections and aspirations

Over the holidays I’ve had a chance to reflect on the past nine years and have enjoyed thinking about how our modest aspirations at the beginning – to share some online learning opportunities among international NGOs – has expanded into wanting “to provide world- class learning opportunities at little or no cost to anyone working to improve lives in the developing world.”

With the launch of the Last Mile Learning program this year, we have taken the first steps on that very lengthy journey. And with the launch of the new LINGOs Learning Platform (LLP) in 2014, we are taking a giant leap forward in providing a state-of-the-art, multi-function learning platform – not only for our members but also for local NGOs throughout the world.

More than a learning consortium

LINGOs now includes a community of members that are actively engaged in providing innovative, professional development opportunities to their organizations in ways that constantly amaze me.

The PMD Pro project management certification that LINGOs pioneered in 2010 is taking hold in the sector with over 7000  individuals having taken the PMD Pro exam and more and more organizations incorporating the tools and techniques into their standard processes. We are gathering data now on how professional project management has resulted in more benefits to the individuals and communities being served by PMD Pro certified project managers. Look for an article on that topic in the coming months.

And every day more individuals throughout the globe are accessing content on basic management, financial management and project management from the Last Mile Learning site.

Last week we received an email from Jean Pierre in Rwanda that read in part, “… I thank you very much for the effort you make to help everybody who needs knowledge gain it freely. May God bless you all.”

While we don’t know exactly who Jean Pierre is or how he found Last Mile Learning, we are happy that the message is getting out and look forward to telling you about tens of thousands of Jean Pierres, each of whom is improving his or her skills so communities can get more from the investments being made to improve people’s lives in the developing world.

Grateful to the members of the LINGOs’ village

There’s an oft-quoted African Adage that “it takes a village to raise a child.” In our case, a global village has helped LINGOs to become what we are today (and what we can yet become!). LINGOs would not even contemplate that audacious desire without the generous support of our village.

  • Our many corporate partners that provide world class course content, learning development tools, professional development services and state-of-the-art platforms enable LINGOs to provide tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of learning services to each of our 75+ member organizations as well as to have created the Last Mile Learning Program that provides a growing library of learning and training resources for anyone.
  • Hundreds of learning professionals have contributed their world-class instructional design and development skills, volunteering thousands of hours and over a million dollars’ worth of professional services enabling LINGOs and its members to create customized eLearning content on a broad range of management, communications, technical and development-specific topics
  • LINGOs Members have not only benefitted from the support of our partners and volunteers, but they have built on and shared these contributions so they are not just additive but contribute exponentially to the success of global development and humanitarian efforts. The ideas initially developed by one organization, tweaked and improved by another, can be continuously perfected, and scaled for global deployment at a minimal cost and maximal return for all of us who want to help make the world a better place.
  • The LINGOs Board of Directors provides the vision and guidance for LINGOs –allowing us to imagine the vision we so audaciously desire to achieve and helping us ensure we have the assets, including the village of partners, volunteers and members, to achieve it.

From not being able to spell “LMS” to contextualized content creation

We have accomplished more than I ever thought possible when we first started those monthly phone calls led by Linda English at Save the Children in 2004. From modest goals of sharing ideas and experiences to over 150,000 courses completed online — mostly by staff in the developing world. From accessing some corporate eLearning courses on Element K to creating custom content contextualized for individual NGOs and organization-specific processes. From not being able to spell “LMS” to creating custom learning platforms reaching employees around the world, we have come a long way together and we should celebrate what we have accomplished and make sure others know what we have done.

Imagine Ifs

But a Tenth Year review is also time to look ahead at what we can do together in the next ten years. Now is a time to really “dream things that never were and say ‘Why not?’” While I am very proud of where we are, I don’t believe for a minute we have scratched the surface of what we can do.

  • Imagine if all the people working in local NGOs had access to the kinds of professional development tools and experiences that LINGOs members enjoy.
  • Imagine what could happen if we could collectively figure out how to translate individual knowledge and skills into organizational impact.
  • Imagine if we could harness the entrepreneurial energy of local trainers to build a network of people who possess not only the professional skills but also content and platforms that enable them to work with local organizations to improve the impact of their work and for those local trainers to be able to make a living at it.
  • Imagine using technology in new ways so that content could come from the South and be shared across the South without filter or modifications.

These are just some of the things to think about as we look ahead. I am looking forward our Tenth Anniversary as both a celebration and a catalyst for new directions for LINGOs. I hope you will think about what LINGOs might become as you contemplate the year ahead during these first few weeks of 2014. You can be certain that all of us at LINGOs will be thinking about it along with you.

Co-Founder and CEO Eric Berg announced plans to retire from LINGOs at the end of 2014. We will celebrate both LINGOs and Eric’s many accomplishments and contributions at the tenth annual member meeting at Mercy Corps in Portland, Oregon, in November.

LINGOs seeks an entrepreneurial, dynamic leader to succeed Eric. To learn more click here.