The Nonprofit Learning Test Kitchen

We have some new projects brewing at the back of our stove. Our test kitchen is humming with activity as learning experts and technologists come together to try and find new ways to help nonprofit people do what they need to do. I thought that I would take a moment to let you know some of what we are working on.

New board resource designed from a workflow point-of-view

So many board workshops cover what board members need to know to do their job. I trained thousands of board members through “Boards in Gear” (a Washington-based board training) from 2015-2021. Most board members step up to serve without any formal understanding of what the job is, so these sessions can be powerful. Once they understand the job, they are more likely to do it.

Board learning

The question we’ve been mulling, however, is how well a board member who attends a training integrates a lesson into the exact circumstance in which it applies. How do they apply information within their workflow? How well does anyone in our trainings apply what they learn and make it a regular part of their practice? The best way to design for learning transfer is to start from key moments in their workflow and reverse engineer what knowledge is needed, what skills need to be practiced, and what tools would support success.

We are working on a new board resource designed to be used in the workflow. It will draw on what we know about adult learning and behavioral science to nudge board members forward. We are hoping to have it available in the Fall.

Document generator

A multiple-choice question for you to consider:

Document generator

If all nonprofits by law must have a written plan for something, and if most nonprofits (according to a survey) don’t have that plan, what is the best way to help them get a plan?

A. Run a workshop where they learn about the requirement
B. Record a video about the requirement
C. Send a postcard to all nonprofits telling them about the requirement
D. Provide a draft plan based on information the nonprofit provides

Our team is working on D. Using a few plug-ins and a templated plan, we are piloting a new way to help nonprofits generate a document that they can customize to their situation. Once we deliver this for one client, we can imagine a whole lot of applications for this technology for other situations.

Low-tech on-demand learning

The technology du jour for nonprofit associations (and others) is a Learning Management System (LMS). Available at various price points with varying levels of features, a LMS allows an association to deliver on demand learning with quizzes and data tracking.

On demand learning

We are huge fans of on-demand learning, but technology needs a methodology (to quote learning expert Bob Moser). We are working on good, outcome-based on-demand learning delivered through simple videos and a supporting workbook. With a client on a limited budget, we are putting our efforts into the learning methodology: graphics that reinforce key lessons, demonstrations on how to access resources, and other practical lessons that will help people to use the information we are teaching them.

That’s what’s bubbling along in our test kitchen. What are you working on? How are you experimenting with new solutions? We’d love to know.

Published by Nancy

I work at the intersection of learning, nonprofits, and leadership. I am a teacher, instructional designer, and nonprofit person who has worn every hat possible. I regular write, speak, and consult on learning strategy, design, and leadership.

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