Stronger Financial Management in Humanitarian Response: Take Part in a New Massive Open Online Course

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February 05, 2018

Stronger Financial Management in Humanitarian Response: Take Part in a New Massive Open Online Course

Photo courtesy of Photoshare.

By Anne Garçon

Communications Officer Humanitarian Leadership Academy

On 26th February 2018, the Humanitarian Leadership Academy and Humentum will launch a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Financial Management for Development Professionals (FMDPro). The course aims to provide non-financial humanitarians with stronger financial management skills, leading to more effective humanitarian programs.

A MOOC on Financial Management for Development Professionals – why?

The increasing number of disasters and humanitarian crises in the past decade has led to a greater demand for financial accountability in the NGO sector. However, there remains a widespread deficit in expertise and defined standards of competency at the project level. Once hired, project managers often lack the support and training they need to take on a wide range of financial duties – such as developing budgets, managing accounts, interpreting financial data and supervising partner finances.

Launched initially in March 2017, FMD Pro was designed to meet this challenge by building the skills of managers who are not finance experts, thereby raising standards across the humanitarian sector. Humentum and the Humanitarian Leadership Academy have now come together to develop a specific Massive Open Online Course, FMDPro Introduction: The Essentials of Financial Management, to provide an even greater number of non-financial managers with stronger financial management skills, leading to a more effective humanitarian response.

Atish Gonsalves, global learning & innovation director at the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, says, We partnered with Humentum on the design of FMD Pro, a program that provides learning and certification opportunities for non-financial managers in the humanitarian sector. We have developed the FMD Pro self-guided courses to be freely available for learners and organisations via our online learning platform, Kaya. Through the MOOC, which will be available to all, participants will have a new opportunity to engage with a facilitator-led course, including interactive sessions, activities and assessments.”

The benefits of taking part in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs are free, online courses designed for large numbers of participants. The courses are open to all, and are accessible from anywhere in the world with internet connectivity.

Forums, peer reviews, quizzes and webinars play a key part in making MOOCs interactive and user-friendly. MOOCs offer a fantastic opportunity for humanitarians to join a global, collaborative learning experience. Learners can connect with peers from all over the world and benefit from the feedback and experience of other professionals, therefore enriching their learning journey. Forum discussions also allow learners to network, exchange ideas and share useful tips. When participants feel that they’re learning alongside their peers, they’re more likely to stay motivated, complete the course and receive their online certificate.

MOOCs provide a flexible learning opportunity; however, this doesn’t mean that learners are left alone to study. A tutor or facilitator is always present to answer any questions learners may have, clarify course content and remind them to complete their assignments on time via weekly checklists and announcements.

Why develop MOOCs for the humanitarian sector?

MOOCs offer a solution to the challenge of training staff on a large scale, with the overall goal of contributing to better humanitarian preparedness. In 2017, the Humanitarian Leadership Academy launched three new MOOCs. Hosted on Kaya, the MOOCs took between three and four weeks to complete, requiring approximately four hours of learning each week.

Managing in the Humanitarian Sector, our first MOOC run in partnership with the Open University, aimed to provide leadership skills to 3,000 frontline humanitarian managers. “Our first Massive Open Online Course provided a real window into what goes on in a humanitarian emergency, the challenges new managers face and the speed within which they have to make life-saving decisions," said Saba Almubaslat, chief executive officer at the Humanitarian Leadership Academy.

The second MOOC, Gamification for Humanitarian Learning was developed in partnership with the International Training Center of the International Labour Organization (ITC-ILO). The course taught participants how to solve humanitarian challenges through a series of on and offline games. Despite its specialised content, it attracted over 1,100 participants and resulted in the creation of 32 game prototypes.

The third MOOC, Humanitarian Essentials, gave 2,100 aid workers the opportunity to study humanitarian principles and their application in an emergency response situation. The MOOC received positive feedback, with over 85% of participants satisfied by the quality of the course, and 97% willing to recommend it to a colleague. “The whole program was excellent and very useful for humanitarian workers. The topics covered were basic, yet the presentation made it appear important and interesting," said one of the participants in the course feedback survey.

The Humanitarian Leadership Academy and Humentum strongly believe that providing access to resources such as this MOOC will lead to greater financial accountability in humanitarian response, therefore bringing better outcomes for people affected by crises.

The MOOC begins on 26th February 2018, and will cover the four essential building blocks of financial management. Learn more here.

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