"The means is dialogue, the end is learning, the purpose is peace." ~ Founder Dr. Jane Vella

Technology Tools to Support Online Learning


According to Clark (2012), there has been “more pedagogic change in the last 10 years than the last 1000 years and it is all driven by technology innovations.” The online learning space continues to grow in numbers, content, technological advancements and instructional considerations, and the trends in higher education alone predict continued growth.

Here is an overview of recent reports regarding online learning in higher education. According to Allen, Seaman, and Allen (2018) distance education enrollment is up over 5% at 5.6% from 2015 - 2016. That equals over 6.3 million students that are now taking at least one online course (Allen, Seaman & Allen, 2018), compared to 2002 when the enrollment number was under 10% at 9.6% (Allen and Seaman 2017). According to Allen and Seaman (2015), over 70% of higher education administrators have included online education in their learning institution’s strategic plan as compared to 2002 when 48% of administrators reported utilizing online education in their strategic plans (Allen & Seaman, 2017).

More and more research is being published about the use of new technologies or diversifying current technologies in online learning. Technology innovations after all, per Donald Clark (2012), are driving the pedagogical changes we are currently experiencing.

One such innovation I find helpful is Voice Thread. This tool allows for interactive collaboration on presentations and dialogue learning tasks such as reflections and group interactions. Additionally, Voxer is another tool that provides an option for live dialogue in the online classroom.

What types of technologies are you using in your educational practices that support a learning-centered approach in the online learning space, either 100% online, blended, or traditional classroom with new technologies?


Jennifer Kirkland (jkirkland@madonna.edu) is the Director of Community Relations for a faith-based not-for-profit hospice organization. She is also an adjunct assistant professor at Madonna University, and a doctoral student pursing her degree in educational psychology and technology. Please feel free to contact Jennifer with any questions or feedback

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In Memory of Karen Ridout



Karen Ridout, Senior Partner and Owner at Global Learning Partners, Inc. passed away on February 1, 2018. Additional information regarding the funeral and obituary will be posted here when it is available. Please feel free to leave any comments for the GLP community and family in the comments section.


From Peter Noteboom, President, Global Learning Partners:

It is with a great deal of respect, love, and sadness that Global Learning Partners celebrates the life of Karen Ridout, a beloved and close friend, partner, teacher and mentor. May her spirit rest in peace, and dance forever with the Spirit.



From Jane Vella, Founder of Global Learning Partners:

My friend Karen Ridout is, and always will be, my inspiration. The one word I think of when I think of Karen is FIDELITY. Her fidelity to her son David and her daughter Kacey, and to her four beautiful granddaughters and their dad (Kacey’s husband, Bill), and to her own two brothers, Jim and Bill, to her friends and colleagues, to her church family and to all whom she served! Fidelity!

I met Karen at our Church of the Nativity when I joined in 1984. Karen came to dialogue in her teaching as a fish to water: it was “arriving where she started, knowing the place for the first time!” (T.S. Eliot)

Her wonderful phrase: learning at the cellular level describes what Karen offered to everyone she taught or served or, in fact, met! Karen is already desperately missed, and she will never be gone from Global Learning Partners worldwide, or from her family and friends or from the Church of the Nativity.


Raleigh, NC – Karen Gunlicks Ridout, 74, died unexpectedly after a short illness at Rex Hospital on Thursday, February 1, 2018.

Miss Ridout was a senior partner with Global Learning Partners, teaching adults globally about Dialogue Education.  She was passionate about promoting interpersonal understanding and acceptance through education.

She was also a founding member of the Church of the Nativity in Raleigh, NC.  She was instrumental in shaping the church through dialogue education and leading it in the direction of becoming a No Waste Church.

Funeral services will be at 3:00pm, Sunday February 11, 2018 at Church of the Nativity in Raleigh, NC with the Rev. Stephanie Allen officiating.  There will also be a prayer service on Thursday, February 8, 2018 at First United Methodist Church, Rockingham, NC at 6:30 pm, the Rev. Allen Bingham officiating.

She is survived by two children: David Ridout of Raleigh, NC and Kacey Matheson (Bill) of Rockingham, NC, and two brothers: Bill Gunlicks (Pam) of Chicago, Il., and Jim Gunlicks (Lois) of Fairfax Va., and four grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to The Church of the Nativity, 8849 Ray Road, Raleigh, NC 27613.

"We will miss you Karen"


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A Structure for Effective Check-Ins*


While facilitating a day-long or week-long learning event, setting aside some time for a “check-in” can give participants the pause they need to process and prepare for what’s next. It allows them to reflect, re-energize, and reconnect before jumping back into a challenging sequence of learning tasks or agenda items. Yet too often, check-ins drift away from their intended purpose. One stray comment can derail the dialogue into a series of seemingly endless rabbit trails. This has led some facilitators to abandon the practice of formal check-ins altogether.

The solution is not to stop checking in. We can’t dismiss the importance of taking a moment to re-center in the middle of a long learning event or meeting. An effective check-in invites participants to evaluate how they are doing mentally, emotionally, relationally, and physically, both for their own sake and for the sake of the group. It can help them achieve their maximum level of engagement and learning by freeing them from what may be restricting or hindering them to explore or share fully.

The following is a simple structure you can use to check-in with participants between long learning tasks or agenda items, or at the beginning or end of a difficult day.

  1. Share one word that captures how you are feeling right now. For example: Restless.
  2. Summarize why you chose this word, and what that means for your learning and our time together today. For example: I’ve been exposed to some intriguing ideas today, but I’m anxious to see if they will actually work in my own context. I’m also a little restless due to sitting for so long.
  3. Conclude your update with one of the following statement          

I would like to be encouraged.

I would like to be challenged.

I would like to be encouraged and challenged.

I’ll pass.

  1. Receive encouragements or challenges others have for you.This process creates an environment where each member has an opportunity to self-reflect, share honestly, and invite input from others. Leaders gain valuable feedback, and participants are given permission to speak comforting or uncomfortable truths as needed. This practice also promotes accountability as people follow up on challenges to see if they have been completed. In this way, check-ins can catalyze groups to gain momentum into greater learning.

Effective check-ins are:

  • Safe, not stressful. Fully listen to each person’s check-in. Let your total attention be an act of love and acceptance. Don’t let people give advice during this time.
  • Transparent, but not too long. Authentic sharing takes time. But especially in a large group, check-ins can swallow up the majority of your meeting if left without limits. The structure above provides parameters for purposeful, succinct sharing.
  • Short, but not shallow. If check-ins are kept short, it might be difficult to go below the surface level. Think of the check-in as a summary of emotions and experiences related to your learning process.
  • Encouraging. If the person checking in would like to be encouraged, offer words of affirmation and support. Notice any signs of improvement you have observed. The more specific the encouragement, the better.
  • Challenging. If the person checking in would like to be challenged, offer a challenge. Make sure it’s both measurable and doable, and record it so that you can follow up later if appropriate. Then, give the person permission to accept or reject your challenge.

When you put these principles into practice, you’ll create an environment for learning where participants feel acknowledged, heard, supported, and challenged. You’ll receive real-time information about the emotions and experiences of the learners in the room, both individually and corporately. Ultimately, pausing for a check-in prepares participants and facilitators alike to re-engage more energetically and attentively in the tasks ahead!

What type of check-ins have you found helpful in your work?


Andrew A. Boa (MA, Wheaton College Graduate School) is the author of Redeemed Sexuality (2017). He lives in California with his wife and young daughter.

*Adapted from Redeemed Sexuality by Andrew A. Boa. ©2017. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL, 60515-1426. www.ivpress.com.

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Four Questions to Transform Your Meetings


It just appeared in your calendar — the mysterious 1.5-hour meeting. You are one of eight invitees. The attached agenda has four topics you’ve heard something about around the office. You click “accept” and quietly say goodbye to 1.5 hours. 

At Global Learning Partners, we teach practical tools for planning and leading effective meetings — the kind you want to click “accept” on.  But let’s face it, you are not always the one planning and leading the meeting! 

So, for all the invitees out there, here are four questions you can ask (nicely!) to transform the quality of your contribution to meetings.


1.      Why are you bringing me in for this meeting? People often EXPAND meeting invite lists unnecessarily. Sometimes for that buzzy prize we call “buy in”. Sometimes, just to be sure they are not excluding someone. But, the best meetings are the ones where the invitees have an important stake in the topic. What’s an important stake? Your input is required. You will need to make the decision, and therefore need to hear the perspectives of the group. You will be required to take action on the outcome of the meeting.

This question is not just to get yourself out of the meeting. It is to clarify what your stake in it is. So, when you are invited and really don’t know what your stake is in the topic at hand, pick up the phone and ask the meeting owner! He/she should be able to clarify it for you, and if not, begging off saves your time and everyone else’s.

“Hi Mike, this meeting for Tuesday just showed up on my calendar. I am not really clear about why I am being invited. Can you tell me why you are bringing me in? Is there something specific you will want from me on these topics?"

2.      Which agenda items will you want my input on? Sometimes, meeting agendas have a host of topics. Perhaps topics 1 and 2 are relevant for everyone, but the other topics are not.  If that is the situation, you can suggest joining for the relevant segments. That might encourage the meeting owner to arrange the agenda to accommodate the relevant “guests,” or even breaking it into two shorter meetings for different groups.

"Hi Susan. There are four topics on the agenda. I don’t think I am involved in all of them, but wanted to check with you so I can be prepared. Which of these agenda items will you want my input on? "


3.      What will we be doing or deciding with this topic? We recommend that meeting planners map out “achievements,” rather than agenda items. An agenda item is something like this: “New Campaign Poster Design.” An achievement looks like this, “by the end of the session we will have reviewed the new poster design and offered suggestions for the next draft.” If your meeting owner doesn’t specify the achievement, this question can help him/her to define it. He/she likely has one in mind. This helps the whole group to focus on the task at hand, and can avoid a long presentation — or an unfocused discussion — about the poster.

“Just so I know how to focus my comments here, can you tell me what we will be doing or deciding with this topic?"

4.      What decisions or actions have we agreed to on this topic? It is all too common to end a discussion without confirming what just got decided and who is taking the lead on it. You may feel relief to move onto the next topic, but watch out! If we didn’t get to a finish, this item is going to come back as another meeting to have the same discussion. So, as you move from one agenda item to the next, use this question to confirm where the group has landed.

“Before we move on, I am not sure what just got decided here. What decisions or actions have we agreed to on this topic? Who is taking the lead on that?”

What tricks do you have to transform the meetings you attend?


Christine Little (christine@globallearningpartners.com) is a Partner and Core Consultant with Global Learning Partners.

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From Exercises to Real Work: Revolutionizing Radio Broadcaster Training



Farm Radio International (FRI) teaches broadcasters across Africa how to produce high quality, entertaining, relevant radio programs that will improve results for rural farmers.

In-station training is a fundamental part of our work with broadcasters, but we identified two key issues with our approach:

  1. Stations were balking at dedicating so much time to the training, even though we had excellent content about radio skills and about farming; and,
  2. We could not measure the impact of our training in any systematic way.

When I began my work at FRI, I set out to develop an approach to solve these two issues. With the help of Global Learning Partners (GLP), I was able to do just that. 

As we examined how our training was being delivered, we saw that it was mainly presentations and skill practice by creating “mock” radio programs. We evaluated learners’ knowledge of the fundamental skills with pre- and post- assessments.

We realized that we could take fuller advantage of being in the real radio station, by going back to the original intent of in-station training – using real work in real time. We created a learning program where broadcasters, with guidance from the trainers, PLAN, IMPLEMENT, and EVALUATE real radio programs that go to air as the learning is happening.

During the pilot test in Tanzania (January 2017), my colleagues Susuma Susuma from Tanzania, Pascal Mweruka from Uganda, Kassim Shegembe from Tanzania and I saw firsthand the effectiveness of this learning-centered approach.

One Friday stands out in my mind: We had just spent the week with the broadcasters from Mwangaza FM, a radio station in Dodoma (a medium-sized city in the middle of Tanzania), gathering material and preparing for broadcast on Friday night at 8pm. On Friday morning, we discovered that all of our recorded material had been wiped out by a computer virus.

The broadcasters had to choose between trying to recover the original material or recording new material. They decided on the latter. We had spent time planning our interviews and had written our questions down before recording, which made it easy to make a quick appointment with the content expert and experienced farmers to begin recording again.

In the meantime, Kassim, our radio and ICT officer, worked to recover the lost files. In the early afternoon, the team had a new decision to make: use the new audio or use the files that Kassim had recovered. The original audio won the vote!

With only a few hours till air time, we moved on to editing and learned another key lesson about time management and keeping interviews focused. The broadcasters had too much material. They had to cut 40 minutes down to 20 minutes. They raced against the clock to edit the interviews down, and they were ready and on the air at 8pm. 

I am convinced that the lessons learned and skills acquired would not have been so profound if we had been working with a mock scenario. The rush of getting on the air in time and knowing that the audience was going to be tuned in helped all of us focus, stay engaged, think strategically and strive for our best work. 

I could not have asked for better proof that this method worked. For once, a computer virus was helpful.

What evidence do you have of real learning in your work?

* * * * * *

Sylvie Harrison is the Radio Craft Development Team Lead at Farm Radio International (FRI) a Canadian non-governmental organization that works with radio stations in Africa to produce informative and interactive radio programs for farmers and rural communities. 

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