Learning Lab provides collaborative online spaces for international development professionals to build networks, share lessons learned, identify good practices, and find solutions to problems. This page provides guidance for group members and facilitators on starting, growing, and sustaining Learning Lab’s online groups both from a technical and a content perspective. The resources below will help you determine whether an online space is the right tool for your group and help you make the most of your online space.

Video: 

Facilitator FAQs for Online Groups

Related Resources

Below please find resources to help you with your working groups.

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Before you launch an online working group, it’s important to spend some time considering whether an online space is the right tool for your members and how it will help your group achieve its goals. This document walks group facilitators through a series of questions to help assess whether an...

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I create a new group?
  • 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.

Group Facilitator FAQs

As a group facilitator, what should I do to get the group space ready for our members?
  • 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.
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.
What is the difference between the group manager and other facilitators?

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.

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.
My existing group is interested in creating subgroups. How can we do this?

 Send an email to [email protected]. 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.
What kinds of usage reports can be created from the site?

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 [email protected], and allow the web team at least two business days from receipt of your request in order to generate a report.

How can I remove comments from a discussion thread?

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

How can I delete a resource or discussion thread added by another group member?

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.

Group members aren’t receiving notifications when new resources, discussions, dates or updates are posted. How can I update this for the group?

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.

Who do I contact if I experience technical issues with our online space?

Contact us at [email protected] and be sure to include a screenshot of your issue so that we can look into it.