Learning Profile: Clarice Gathura

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June 06, 2017

Learning Profile: Clarice Gathura

Photo courtesy of Augustine Karani.

By Judith Mumford

Learning and Systems Specialist LINGOs

Clarice Gathura (seen at right) is eLearning Coordinator at Forum Syd, a Swedish democracy and rights organization with about 160 Swedish member organizations and thousands of partner organizations and networks worldwide. Based in Forum Syd’s Eastern and  Southern Hub, Clarice will be presenting a session at the InsideNGO Annual Conference with the LINGOs Global Learning Lab next month. In the lead-up to the conference, we checked in with her to learn about her work and find out more about her conference session.

Q: First, tell us a little bit about your career path. How did you end up doing eLearning in development?

I am passionate about development and I believe learning is the key to sustainable development. Having studied international relations with a minor in development studies and ICT more than 10 years ago, I started an internship at an international non-governmental organization where I worked in the capacity building department. I was exposed to eLearning authoring tools, use of different theories, content development, and learning management systems. Each day hence forth has been a learning moment for me and I have grown tremendously in providing people with the best learning experience making lasting impact in their lives. Working with some of the middle-level medical colleges in Kenya to establish their eLearning departments, policies, and standards has been one of my greatest experiences, as has working with Forum Syd to adopt the use of eLearning as one of the capacity development methods.

What kind of work does Forum Syd do?

Forum Syd is a Swedish democracy and rights organization whose vision is “a just and sustainable world where all people have the power to effect change.” We strive for fair and sustainable global development based on the equal value of all people, their right to reasonable life circumstances, and the sustainable use of the world’s natural resources.

Through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) we channel development funds to Swedish civil society organizations and their partners who work with international development. Forum Syd emphasizes the vital role of civil society in contributing to the fulfilment of human rights and sustainable development. We support the empowerment and organization of people within a strengthened, representative, and legitimate civil society. Specifically, we do grants management, quality assurance and capacity development for our partners through training on project proposals, project/programs management, and financial management. Furthermore, we help in building networks and synergies amongst our partners thus acting as an umbrella and platform organization.

Describe your typical work day.

Though I am not a morning person, my day starts with taking breakfast in the office—one of the many perks of working at Forum Syd; then I check emails to ensure that all our learners’ queries are addressed on time. Then, I throw in some headphones for some ‘easy work mode’ music. Since I work with a global team to develop eLearning training materials, a typical day could include any of the following: Briefing and working closely with subject matter experts (SMEs) to create new eLearning courses, including monitoring work in progress, proof reading content, testing prototypes, and making suggestions for improvement; testing new tools and techniques of instructional design; coordinating the course administration and management of the eLearning project; developing marketing tools and templates for the eCourses; providing back up trainer and learner technology support to our internal staff and our partners; and/or liaising with other departments.

I engage regularly with our Latin American office by Skype in the afternoons. I also like to attend learning- and development-related webinars to keep abreast of the new trends and practices.  

If you could picture the perfect learning-centric organization what would it look like and what best practice do you think might bring that to life?

In my view, a perfect learning-centric organization should consider identifying the existing knowledge within its networks, mapping out the gaps in skills and attitudes of its staff, and later designing learning materials to close the gaps. At Forum Syd, we leverage existing knowledge from our member organizations through the community of practice and collaborative learning. Since 2014, we have explored innovative approaches toward capacity development work, hence the use of technology. The use of technology in learning has the potential to improve access, foster innovation, and make teaching and learning relevant to people’s work and lives, and thus create lifelong learners.  

At Forum Syd, we cultivate a learning culture and we have engraved it our overall strategy. When the leadership is committed, then proper resources and structures are put in place. To say the least, learning should strive to improve participation and implementation of sustainable development, improve knowledge retention, and boost performance, and it should be fun.

Last year, you attended the LINGOs Global Learning Forum and this year you will be a presenter. How does it feel to make the leap from attendee to presenter?

As an instructional designer, learning is a lifelong experience, and one can learn through different ways. The Global Learning Forum was a great learning experience for me, and so I am also honored to be sharing my experience and knowledge through my experience. I was inspired by the presenters who shared their knowledge without limitations or reservations; I hope to do the same as well as inspire a new presenter for the next Global Learning Forum.

Tell us a little bit about the session you’re leading at this year’s conference, which is called Empowering Partners: How To Overcome Challenges In Capacity Building.

This session will focus on sharing experiences of capacity development of partner organizations from different contexts, the lessons learned, and the impact on sub-granting and development work. The session will also share Forum Syd’s journey in capacity development as well as share the tools and methods that have worked over the years. I look forward to keeping the conversation going even after the conference. As L&D experts, we should endeavor to learn from each other as well as create new platforms for new professionals to learn from. 

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