USAID Learning Lab?

USAID Learning Lab?

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.

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Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA)?

Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA)?

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.

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How do I convert files to PDF?

How do I convert files to PDF?

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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A Group?

A Group?

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.

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Tips on initial outreach to members

Tips on initial outreach to members

  • 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.
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How can I manage membership requests and add members?

How can I manage membership requests and add members?

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.
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