Donors and volunteers are key to training employees of nongovernmental organizations.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) may be unique in being named for something they are not. Estimates place the number of these cause-oriented international entities at about 40,000, most of which face these two daunting challenges: lack of funding specifically for employee development, and staff dispersed around the globe in hard-to-reach places.
For retired software and training company executive Eric Berg, who was looking for a way to give back to the profession, this situation was an opportunity calling. In 2005, working with the leaders of several large, international NGOs, including CARE, Save the Children, and Habitat for Humanity, he co-founded Learning in Non-Governmental Organizations, known as LINGOs. Its mission—to provide learning to the employees of international NGOs operating in three or more countries—is made possible with donations of courses and technology by for-profit training companies, and donations of time and expertise by workplace learning professionals.
"The learning technologies and courses given by our partners help these nonprofits increase the skill levels of their employees, and therefore increase the impact of their programs," says Berg. "We can show them they are making a difference."
LINGOs members are international NGOs involved in the fields of relief, development, conservation, and social justice. LINGOs's partner companies from the learning industry include Articulate, Blackboard Collaborate, eCornell, eLearning Guild, Harvard Business Publishing, Ninth House, The Performance Management Institute, and many others. Their donations enable LINGOs to provide e-learning development tools, virtual classroom software, and course catalogs to LINGOs members as part of their low annual membership fees.
LINGOs operates a learning management system that contains hundreds of courses on leadership and management development, information technology, project management, stress management for humanitarian workers, personal safety, and other topics. LINGOs's member agencies can access the content through branded portals or through a shared portal, depending on their level of membership.
"Over 80,000 courses have been completed by NGO employees around the world," notes Berg. "And 10,000 were completed in the first quarter of 2012 alone."
Individual volunteers and corporate teams from the training profession also play a key role in helping LINGOs achieve its goals. An annual competition, Global Giveback, provides the opportunity for course developers to work with international not-for-profit organizations to develop online courses.
LINGOs needs volunteer developers to develop learning content in four formats:
- Self-led format—e-learning content that can be accessed via the Internet (or shared via CD-ROM) that allows people to learn, practice, apply, and assess new skills
- Face-to-face format—curricular guides that allow facilitators to lead workshops
- Facilitated online synchronous format—curricular guides and slide decks that allow facilitators to lead classes in an online virtual classroom
- Facilitated online asynchronous format—curricular guides and support materials that allow facilitators to instruct groups via online communities and discussion rooms. (This format is most useful for situations in which individuals want to learn in a group but only have intermittent access to the Internet or are unable to attend regularly scheduled classes.)
This year, for the first time, Global Giveback will focus on a single area of content—people management. Teams will work on a collection of courses that are intended to complement one another. Together, the courses will comprise a learning library, entitled Last Mile Learning, targeted to the staff of local, rather than international, NGOs. "There will be 24 courses in various delivery modes that anyone in these local organizations, anywhere on the planet, can access free of charge," says Berg (see table).
Learners will have the option to complete a single course or a series of courses leading to a certificate in people management. Content can be delivered as self-paced e-learning, synchronous or asynchronous virtual learning, or formal classroom learning.
Amanda Warner, a two-time winner in the Global Giveback competition, typifies the spirit—and the background—of a LINGOs volunteer. She earned her master's degree in e-learning technology and design from Jones International University entirely online, and as an independent, virtual worker, she likes to seek opportunities to broaden her experience. After working for several years in the corporate and K-12 environments, she became a freelance learning designer and developer of serious games, educational simulations, and other types of programs that engage learners.
She entered the Global Giveback competition for two reasons. "I thought it was neat to be able to work with an international nonprofit on an e-learning project, and it was an opportunity for me to work in some new subject areas," she says.
One of her courses, developed in collaboration with the technical teams at FHI 360, explores the use of "Isoniazid Preventive Therapy (IPT) for the Prevention of Tuberculosis in People Living with HIV." The Flash-authored course invites learners to navigate a series of scenario-based interactions for which they are given an abbreviated medical background and current symptoms of an adult or child living with HIV. The learners then determine whether and how long to offer IPT in accordance with World Health Organization guidelines. FHI 360 is an NGO that helps organizations and communities to meet health and development challenges.
For her course, "Client Protection and Financial Education in Microfinance," Warner won in the Global Giveback individual developer category. She developed the course for microlender ACCION International and The Smart Campaign, a global effort "to help microfinance institutions deliver transparent, respectful, and prudent financial services to their clients."
Learn more about these two courses by visiting Warner's portfolio at www.amanda-warner.com/portfolio.html.
How to Get Involved
Looking for a way to volunteer where the need and the impact are great? Consider LINGOs.
LINGOs invites corporate teams, as well as individuals, to volunteer their time and talents to Global Giveback 2012. For more information, visit the Global Giveback website at www.GlobalGiveback2012.org.
For training suppliers looking to become LINGOs partners, contact Eric Berg at email@example.com.