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.

ProgramNet is USAID's internal, interactive online community devoted to sharing knowledge and promoting learning on implementing the Program Cycle. Managed by the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL), ProgramNet provides a platform for peer-to-peer and mission-to-Washington dialogue to support collaboration and facilitate more effective implementation of the Program Cycle. The ProgramNet website is only accessible to staff and hosts SBU information and guidance related to the USAID Program Cycle.

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.

The USAID Learning Lab website is a knowledge-sharing collaborative space where USAID staff and partners jointly create, share, refine and apply practical approaches in order to ground our programs in evidence and adapt quickly to new learning and changing contexts, maximizing development outcomes. In order to create a robust repository of information, Learning Lab accepts relevant resource contributions from many different sources. Learning Lab uses the following tags to help categorize documents and/or blog articles according to the author or funding organization:

  • USAID Official: Approved USAID strategies, policies, and related guidance documents. 
  • USAID Contribution: Content submitted by USAID staff members or affiliates that is not official Agency-wide guidance. This includes event resources, technical papers, and resources created by other organizations.
  • Community Contribution: Content submitted by community members or any resources that do not fit into the two categories mentioned above.

Read the "How do I Contribute to the Site?" FAQs for more information on how to submit content. Inclusion on the site does not imply USAID approval or sponsorship of this content.

Disclaimer:

Learning Lab is managed by USAID’s Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning through the USAID LEARN contract implemented by Dexis Consulting Group. All content not generated in whole or in part from this funding mechanism is labeled a Community Contribution unless otherwise directed by USAID or the USAID LEARN contract. All content, with or without the Community Contribution label, does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government. For full policies on content submission, please see the Terms of Use.

The USAID LEARN contract does not claim ownership of content you submit. By submitting content for inclusion on USAID Learning Lab, you grant the USAID LEARN contract (the site's administrator) permission to publish your content online and to be accessible to a public audience.

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.

Managing my Profile

Location

Nigeria

In keeping with the fact that Learning Lab is intended to be a collaborative community, the default privacy settings for information you share in your profile are set to “Public.” This means that anyone visiting Learning Lab, whether they are a member or not, can view your information. Information with a “Public” setting is also searchable through internet search engines like Google.

Your other options are to set information so that it is viewable only by other Learning Lab members or that it is completely hidden except to site administrators.

To change your settings, follow these steps:

1. Sign into Learning Lab.

How to log in

2. Access your account settings by clicking on your user name in the top menu bar.

How to access your account settings

3. Scroll to the bottom to find the Private Settings and make any changes you’d like.

Privacy setting options

4. Click “Save Changes”

  1. Click the "Log In" link featured at the top of every page on the Learning Lab.
  2. Click on the “Forgot password?” link in the window that pops up.
  3. Enter your Learning Lab username or email address.
  4. Click the "Send" button.

 

Contributing to the site

Ask & Answer is a space for the community to share knowledge by contributing to conversations about learning approaches for development. Both questions and answers may come from USAID and its partners or Learning Lab members at large. Browse posted questions by visiting the Ask & Answer page. Questions are organized by most recent and most active. From the main page, you can see how many people have responded to a question as well as how many people have viewed the question and its responses. 

Please remember that while everyone can browse the Ask & Answer conversation, only Learning Lab members who are logged in to the site can post questions and answers. To respond to an Ask & Answer question, click on the question (you’ll see the link in red) and you’ll find a “Post New Answer” button at the bottom of the page. Click on the button, enter a title for your post in the “Subject” field, and write your answer in the box beneath it.

It is also a good idea to browse the responses already provided to avoid duplication. See something you agree or disagree with? Let the community know. Your post may even be featured in the "Featured Answer" box!

As part of the crowdsourcing process for answers, we encourage the Learning Lab community to get involved, share their expertise, and help elevate the most valuable responses by “voting up” answers they find most useful. Answers with the most votes will appear at the top of the list.

Working Groups

Contact your group facilitator or the Learning Lab team to ensure that you are a member of the group. Your membership request may still be pending facilitator approval.

From your group’s homepage, click on ‘Configure Your Digest Subscription’ in the right sidebar to update your notification settings.

By setting your digest preferences, you are indicating how often you want to receive emails from the group. By default, you will receive an email notification every time a group member posts an update, discussion comment, event, or resource. You can change the frequency to daily, weekly, or monthly and you will instead get a digest email of all the updates that were posted to the group over that timeframe. You can also choose not to receive any email notifications. Click “Submit” once you’ve indicated your choice in the dropdown menu.

To return to the group homepage, click the back button in your browser navigation bar.

All working group members are able to edit and delete resources and comments they have posted themselves. 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. Make the necessary changes and then click 'Save' again. You can also delete the resource from the bottom of the edit screen if you wish.

Your group’s facilitator is also able to delete resources, discussions, and comments if needed.

The most common reason for this is that a required box was not filled out. Carefully check each section to make sure all the required information is completed. Often, you will see the relevant box outlined in red, indicating that it needs to be filled in. If the problem persists, please contact us for more information.

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.

We recommend members use discretion when sharing draft documents, and consider your group’s membership before sharing sensitive information. Keep in mind that information and resources shared in open groups are visible to anyone with a Learning Lab account.

Group members also have the ability to share resources with one another. These documents and tools will not be included in the Learning Lab library, but in the case of an open group, non-group members will still be able to view them and they will appear in site-wide search results. As you would expect, moderated group resources are only visible to group members.

Click on the Resources tab to see your group’s current resource library and to share your own documents, tools, and external links.

If you have content that you want to share with the group, click “Add Resource.” A new form will open with three separate tabs along the top: Resource Description, Author/Publication Info, and Resources.

Resource Description

On the Resource Description tab, which opens first, add the title of the resource and a short description in the box marked “Body”.

Under the Body, you’ll see several drop-down menus that allow you to tag your resource, making them easier for people to find based on their interests. Using these drop-downs, you can indicate the type of resource you’re uploading, if it focuses on any specific region or countries, which component of the USAID Program Cycle it relates to, if it reflects a specific learning approach, and what general sectors it covers. These are all optional fields, but members can use them to filter group resources.

Author/Publication Info

In the second tab, enter the author and publication information. In each field, a name that has previously been entered may appear as you type. If the name hasn’t been entered in the site before, it will be added to the database. You can add multiple authors if you separate their names with a comma.

Resources

In the third tab, attach your resource. This page has multiple options. First, choose the correct Resource Format from the drop-down menu. The two available format options will be PDF and External Links.

To upload a PDF, skip the screencast field and go to the File Upload section. Find the “Add a new file” box and click “Choose File” to select your file. Once you’ve selected it, click on the upload button and enter a short title for the PDF. If you need to convert your file into a PDF, please read the help text provided in the “File Upload” box.

For links to websites and online documents outside of Learning Lab, please proceed to the External Link section and add a short title and the web address in the fields provided.

Feel free to skip the audio, video, related content, and location fields.

Finally, click "Save" to submit the resource.

Note: For additional tips on uploading resources to your group, please check out the Groups orientation video in the Working Group Resource Center.

To begin a conversation with other group members, make sure you are first logged into Learning Lab and are a member of the group where you wish to post or join a discussion.

Once in the group, choose the Discussion tab from the navigation bar and click the “Start New Discussion” button. On this page, enter a title for your post and add your comment in the body section. If you want to, you can use the horizontal toolbar to apply some basic formatting options. You can also upload PDF files to your discussion post directly underneath this box. Finally, designate the "Discussion Type" from the drop-down menu and then click “Save” to post your discussion comment. You’ll be taken to a page with your comment posted at the top and space for replies underneath. Whenever a new discussion is started or someone responds to an existing discussion, all group members will receive an email (depending on their digest subscription preferences).

New group discussions must be initiated from within working group site pages on Learning Lab. However, you can choose to respond to an existing discussion thread either through the website or via email by replying to the email notification you receive from the site. If you submit a response by email, please be patient. It may take a while for your post to appear on the site.

If you respond from within the group on the website, you have the option to reply to an individual comment or to the entire discussion thread. To reply to the entire thread, click on the title of the discussion from the Discussion tab main page. Then, enter your comment in the Group Comments text box. 

To reply to an individual comment, scroll down on the same page to where individual responses are listed. Underneath the individual comment you want to reply to, click “Reply.” When you reply to an individual, your comment will be indented under the specific comment you are responding to.

  • 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.

Learning Lab contains both open and closed groups. In an open group, anyone with a site account can join the discussion. Closed groups, marked as “moderated,” exist for internal groups and communities of practice that wish to engage with each other virtually in a private setting. These closed groups require you to send a request to join. You can find the list of groups on the Groups landing page here.The first step to joining a group is to create an account (see this FAQ for more information) and/or log in.The next step is to click the “Request Membership” button in the top right corner, after which a page will appear asking you to confirm your request. In the text box, please enter your name, organization, and position or job title before clicking the Join button.

  • An email will be sent you letting you know that your membership is pending.
  • Please note that membership approval is not an automated process, so a response from the group administrator may not be immediate. Requests are usually reviewed within 1 to 2 business days.
  • If your request has been approved, you will receive an email titled “Your membership request was approved.” If you don’t see this email within 2 business days, please check your spam folder before contacting us. Follow the link in the email to go to the group home page.

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.

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.

There are two main ways to search through the Learning Lab library:

  • You can enter keywords into the “search” box located in the blue menu bar. This will return results from across the site, but you can filter the results using the terms and tags located in the right-hand column.
  • If you’d rather just browse the library, click on the “Resources” tab in the main menu and select “Learning Library.” You can then use the filters in the Library by selecting the terms and tags that interest you in the right-hand column to narrow down your selections.

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.

 

Still, Can't Can't Find What You're Looking For?

contact us