Welcome to the Help Center! Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions on Learning Lab features. If you can't find the answer to your question, please contact us. We are continuously working to improve your experience, so please check back soon for additional information.

What is...

Learning Lab is USAID's platform for generating and sharing information, tools, and resources on how development practitioners can work together to integrate learning throughout the USAID Program Cycle. Here, USAID staff and partners jointly create, share, refine, and apply practical approaches to more effectively ground programs in evidence and quickly adapt based on new learning and changing contexts, thereby maximizing development outcomes.

USAID Learning Lab is open to everyone, but its content is tailored to USAID staff and development partners around the world who want to increase their collaboration and leverage their learning. Site members can share both publicly and privately.

Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) is a set of practices that help us improve our development effectiveness. Learning has always been part of USAID’s work, and most USAID missions and implementing partners are already practicing CLA in some way. Our aim now is to make CLA more systematic and intentional throughout the Program Cycle, and to dedicate the resources necessary to make it happen.

According to USAID’s Program Cycle guidance (ADS 201.3.5.19), “Strategic collaboration, continuous learning, and adaptive management link together all components of the Program Cycle.” Integrating CLA into our work helps to ensure that our programs are coordinated with others, grounded in a strong evidence base, and iteratively adapted to remain relevant throughout implementation. The systematic application of CLA approaches, led by people who have the knowledge and resources to carry them out, enables USAID to be an effective learning organization and thereby a more effective development organization.

box with collaboratingcollaborating intentionally happens when USAID and stakeholders identify areas of shared interest and work together where it makes sense, reduce duplication of efforts, and share knowledge across sectoral and institutional boundaries. Collaboration helps break down sectoral and institutional stovepipes; validates USAID programs against experience and local/contextual knowledge; and enhances the ability of partner country governments, organizations, commercial actors, and individuals to define and pursue their development agendas while informing USAID’s work.

box with learninglearning systematically takes place when USAID and stakeholders utilize a variety of sources of information (including data from monitoring, portfolio reviews, findings of research, evaluations, analyses conducted by USAID or third parties, knowledge gained from experience) and take the time to pause and reflect on implementation. This helps us draw on evidence and experience from many sources and employ participatory development methodologies that catalyze learning for ourselves and our stakeholders.

box with adaptingadapting effectively happens when USAID and partners apply learning and make adjustments during implementation. This is especially critical as USAID is increasingly working in countries that are unstable or in transition and even in the most stable environments, it is difficult to reliably predict how events or circumstances will evolve and impact programs. Adaptive management helps USAID respond to changes in context and new information to increase the impact of development assistance.

To learn more about what CLA looks like in practice, check out these great examples from the CLA Case Competition.

Learning Lab provides collaborative online spaces for international development professionals to build networks, identify good practices, and find solutions to problems. Browse through the existing working groups to find other practitioners and professionals interested in a particular subject or field. Group membership varies from group to group. Some groups are open to all Learning Lab members; others are invite-only. Group members can post new discussions, comment, and share resources with a small community of goal-oriented professionals.

For more information, visit the Working Groups Resource Center.

Working Groups

  • First, browse through the existing groups to see if there is one that suits your needs.
  • If you'd like to create a new group, review the requirements for group creation.
  • Complete the online group request form. Be sure you're logged into your Learning Lab account, then click on the "Submit" button.
  • The Learning Lab team will review your request and contact you to let you know whether your request has been approved, denied, or if further information is needed. If your request for a group is denied, or more information is needed, the Learning Lab team will provide you with recommendations to launch a sustainable group in the near future. 
  • Once your request is approved, it takes three to four business days to create your group space.
  • Email us any questions regarding the format or conversations required prior to group creation.

Working Group Facilitation

Contact us at groups@usaidlearninglab.org and be sure to include a screenshot of your issue so that we can look into it.

Individual members, not the group facilitator, manage how frequently they receive group notifications. Members can update the frequency of notifications by clicking on "Configure Your Digest Subscription" on the right sidebar under the Welcome to the Group message on your group’s homepage.

As facilitators, there may be times that you need to delete a resource or discussion from the working group space if its content is inappropriate, sensitive, or otherwise should not be shared on Learning Lab. Learning Lab is a public website and is not located within USAID’s firewall. Therefore, no Sensitive But Unclassified information (SBU) or Personally Identifiable Information (Social Security numbers, etc.) should be posted on the site.

First make sure that you're logged into Learning Lab and then find the page you wish to edit. When viewing a resource or discussion comment that you posted, you should see two tabs at the top – "View" and "Edit". Clicking on the "Edit" tab will allow you to make changes to the resource or discussion thread. Make the necessary changes and then click "Save" again. You can also delete the resource or discussion from the bottom of the edit screen if you wish.

To delete a comment, simply hit the ‘Delete’ button underneath the comment.

There are several standard working group usage reports that can be generated by our web team, as listed below. 

  • Number of working group members.
  • Number of resources posted.
  • Number of comments posted.
  • A list of most frequent commenters.
  • Page view frequency.

Please send requests for reports to groups@usaidlearninglab.org, and allow the web team at least two business days from receipt of your request in order to generate a report.

 Send an email to groups@usaidlearninglab.org. Be sure to include the following information:

  • Subgroup names.
  • Subgroup facilitator names and email.
  • Purpose of the subgroup(s).
  • Desired users.
  • Types of resources developed for the subgroups.
  • Whether the subgroups will be open or moderated/closed.

To manage membership requests:

  1. Log in to the Learning Lab site.
  2. On the homepage of the Group, click on the "Group" tab (next to the "View," "Edit," and "Track" tabs).
  3. Click on "People."
  4. Check the box next to the member’s name.
  5. Near the top of the page there is a box that says "Update Options" - select either approve or deny membership and click update.
  6. It is always good practice to explain any denied requests so that people understand the criteria for participating in the group.

To add new members manually:

  1. Log in to the Learning Lab site.
  2. On the homepage of the Group, click on the "Group" tab (next to the "View," "Edit," and "Track" tabs).
  3. Click on "Add People."
  4. Type their username.
  5. Click on add users.

The group manager is the only person who receives emails about membership requests. However, all group facilitators can manage memberships by going directly to the site.

  • Consider creating a group invite letter based on this template.
  • Ask core members to create accounts and complete profiles to the best of their ability and direct them to the group page to request membership. 
  • If any of your members already have Learning Lab accounts, you can add them directly by going to the gray Group tab on your group’s homepage and selecting “Add People”. Type the usernames of the people you want to add and then click “Add Users” at the bottom of the page.
  • The first step is to populate your online space with resources, announcements, and other important information. Get it into “launch mode” so to speak. 
  • Make sure you feel comfortable using the site so you can guide members through functionality and content questions.
  • Add a welcome message on the main page by posting an Update.
  • Create a discussion thread asking members to introduce themselves to the group.

Site help

USAID Learning Lab is supported by USAID LEARN, a mechanism funded by USAID's Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research (LER) in the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL). USAID LEARN helps PPL/LER to support strategic learning and knowledge management at USAID to improve the effectiveness of programs in achieving sustainable development outcomes.

In most cases, in order to comply with USAID accessibility requirements and to minimize the risk of sharing corrupted files, users are only able to upload PDF documents to the Learning Lab. Learn more about Accessibility.

To convert a file, such as a Word document, to PDF, there are several different options. WikiHow offers a good overview on how to create PDFs from many different formats, including Word, Word for Mac, Google Docs, and Open Office. View the step-by-step instructions.

 

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