During National Volunteer Week, April 21 – 27, 2013, we take time to celebrate volunteerism and focus our attention on the power and impact of those who give back to their communities and the world at large. If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to donate your time and talents while honing your instructional design or eLearning development skillset, here are a couple of ideas to get you started.

Help those who are doing good, do it better

LINGOs (Learning in NGOs) is a not-for-profit consortium of more than 75 international humanitarian relief and development organizations that enables those agencies to share their learning resources and experiences. LINGOs also engages partner organizations—companies and associations working in the field of technology assisted learning—to provide expert help and other support aimed at alleviating poverty around the world and effectively responding to emergencies. LINGOs member and partner organizations include some of the biggest names in the nonprofit and technology sectors, including Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, Care, The eLearning Guild, Articulate, Blackboard Collaborate, Cegos, eCornell, Insights, TELL ME MORE, and many more (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Maamohelang Hiaha receives HIV treatment in her rural South African village from a program funded by USAID and run by a LINGOs member agency – the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. USAID photo.

Global Giveback

The LINGOs Global Giveback initiative takes the charge to change the world a step further. Through Global Giveback, highly skilled learning professionals volunteer their highest talent, creativity, and experience to support any not-for-profit organization working to improve lives in the developing world, whether the agency is a LINGOs member or not.

In the first four Global Giveback events, volunteer instructional designers and eLearning developers created more 100 eLearning courses for LINGOs and its 75 international NGO member agencies. For NGOs working on the front lines of international development projects, effective use of volunteers allows the organizations to dedicate their limited resources wisely.

If you’re an instructional designer, eLearning developer, trainer, or other learning professional interested in volunteering with Global Giveback, you can join the Global Giveback LinkedIn group to express your interest and connect with an organization looking for help. Global Giveback projects can include designing learning and training resources that may be deployed in a variety of ways, including face-to-face, blended, and self-paced eLearning.

And if you’ve got a knack for contests, an optional part of Global Giveback is a competition among the completed eLearning courses. Judges will evaluate courses submitted by nonprofit global development agencies in two categories, based on whether individual developers or corporate teams developed them, using 10 criteria:

  • Meets stated learning objectives
  • Appearance
  • Creativity
  • Ease of use for the learner
  • Interactivity
  • Graphical content
  • Ease of update (for the nonprofit sponsor)
  • Holds the learner’s interest
  • Ease of working with the developer (rated by the nonprofit agency)
  • Potential impact of the course (assessed by the nonprofit agency based on topic and potential audience)

Recognition and awards will be announced at The eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions 2014 Conference & Expo in Orlando, FL.

Amanda Warner developed the 2012 award-winning course, Isoniazid Preventive Therapy (IPT) for the Prevention of Tuberculosis in People Living with HIV, for LINGOs member FHI 360 (Figure 2). About her participation as a Global Giveback volunteer, Warner says, “The process itself of creating a course is so incredibly rewarding. You’re working with nonprofits that are striving for positive change in the world through efforts ranging from global conservation to responsible microfinance to lifesaving emergency response; it’s so rewarding to be able to participate in this, even in a small way.”

Figure 2: A scenario from the award-winning course developed for LINGOs member agency FHI 360

LINGOs announces Last Mile Learning is now live!

LINGOs is extremely excited to announce the release of the Last Mile Learning website!

Thanks to the support of volunteers like the ones in the Global Giveback LinkedIn group, a library of professional development courses is available free of charge to anyone working to improve the lives of people in poor communities around the world.

Among the many accomplishments of the past 12 months, LINGOs has worked with more than 80 volunteers to accomplish the following:

  • One website built
  • Two Learning Paths completed
  • Four Last Mile Learning curriculum guides published (self-led, face-to-face, blended synchronous, and blended asynchronous)
  • Seven courses translated to Spanish, French, and Portuguese
  • Thirteen face-to-face training packages completed
  • Fifteen eLearning courses developed
  • Twenty-one additional eLearning courses currently under development

Furthermore, the Portuguese and French versions of the website, and the project management curriculum, will be launched very soon. These accomplishments are incredibly exhilarating and would not have been possible without the dedication and great work of volunteers.

Find a match and make it happen

By no means is National Volunteer Week, or your personal volunteerism, limited to Global Giveback or support of LINGOs organizations! The key is to find a nonprofit organization you respect and volunteer your talents and skills. Think about causes near and dear to your heart, and use your connections and contacts to find a match and give back.

Volunteering is a great way for students or those just getting started in the field to gain hands-on experience, network with experienced colleagues, and build a portfolio of your work. Even experienced practitioners can find value in creating portfolio examples, as many company proprietary issues make that a challenge for some people.

As you take the first steps on your volunteer journey, know that you might not find an instant match or connect with a nonprofit organization right away. But keep hope alive! Be both persistent and consistent in your search to find the right fit. And know that with every step you take, you are one step closer to changing the world one course at a time.