Pyramid Learning is 1 year old this week – yay – great news – at least we think so but then again, we would! This anniversary has prompted us to think a little bit about what we have been doing over the last year and why. And this seems to come together around a subject that we get asked about a lot – which is why did choose the name Pyramid Learning?
We actually thought a lot about the name – and the more we thought about it – the more the idea and concept of a pyramid appealed to us. You cannot build a pyramid without a strong base. It would fall down. In the same way, if learning is restricted to a few, no matter how good it is, it is difficult to action and it is hard for any change to be sustainable. We believe very strongly in getting learning to the people who need it most – field staff, partners, implementers on the ground. We really want to find ways to help as many people access appropriate actionable learning as possible. In many ways, development is all about the base of the pyramid. How do we develop the skills of the people at the base – those who were who are sustaining the weight of the development sector?
This focus on the base is why we are so proud of our accomplishments over our inaugural last 12 months- 1600 learners trained! We are also proud of the award we received from the Arist Foundation for our work making learning available on WhatsApp based Covid 19 learning program – distributed globally in 10 languages. The award was nice but seeing photos of a public health promoter in a refugee camp in Uganda using our learning on a phone, reading the messages and using a megaphone to instruct people at a water point and give them key messages was even better.
Our choice of the pyramid also represents the three principles that serve as foundations to our work . We want learning to be appropriate, accessible and actionable – these are the sides of our pyramid. Learning which does not meet these criteria is unlikely to be helpful. The reason we use the word helpful is precisely because we want our learning to help people like you, who are doing good, do it even better.
We want learners to be able to take what we do and use it in their own work quickly and easily to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Feedback from learners has driven our product development. We now have courses on project management, program management, MEAL and proposal writing. And, we have made these courses widely accessible by localising them French, Spanish and Portuguese. Next stop – Arabic – and then – who knows?
Making learning appropriate is all about contextualisation. At Pyramid Learning we have over 50 years of experience in development, advocacy, human rights and humanitarian projects. Additionally, we implement our work in geographical contexts that span the world. It is incredibly rewarding that we already collaborate with organisations in 9 countries across Africa, the Americas and South East Asia. Seeing healthcare workers in Somalia learning on our courses and contributing to the learning of other participants is deeply rewarding.
Maybe an interesting reflection on the pyramid is how essential the base is. In our context, we can also see that without a strong base, you won’t have scale in your learning. An interesting development is how we are now collaborating with several organisations to develop learning to help them rollout learning to scale globally but also how to use virtual learning technologies to reach their own base. Helping Catholic Relief Services and Cáritas in Mexico to turn a face-to-face training of trainers into a virtual training of trainers has been fantastic. Working with others to reach right down to the grassroots, parish level and seeing how learners participate, flourish and grow has been a privilege.
Let’s all work together in 2021 to carry on helping as many people as possible to learn and change lives for the better.