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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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.

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.