In the fall of 2011, TechChange facilitated its first series of online courses. The courses were each three weeks long and covered the following topics (we will also be running these courses again in the Spring):
- Technology Tools and Skills for Emergency Management
- Global Innovations for Digital Organizing: New Tactics for Democratic Change
- Mobile Phones for International Development: New Platforms for Public Health, Education, and Finance
In total, we had 170 participants from 43 countries and the response has been remarkably positive. Participants came from a range of organizations, including:
|Voice of America||World Bank||IREX|
|USAID||World Pulse Media||Mercy Corps|
|Plan International||Freedom House||UNDP|
|World Vision||Concern||Notre Dame|
|International Rescue Committee||International Youth Foundation||Teachers Without Borders|
|International Red Cross||Office of the First Lady of the Dominican Republic||Radio Station in Haiti (Minustah FM)|
What sets our model apart?
- Social Learning Platform: After nearly a year of trying out dozens of proprietary and open-source learning management systems we decided to build our own course delivery platform using WordPress. It took several months and a great deal of customization by our director of technology and the entire TechChange team, but the end result was a truly robust social learning platform.
- Game Mechanics: We integrated a number of basic gamification elements into the platform to enrich and incentivize learning. Instead of formal grades we implemented an experience points system to incentivize participation and make our learning a little more fun. Participants received TechPoints for participation (each time they posted a comment, shared a link, made a recommendation, wrote a blog post, etc.).
- Small Groups: Each participant was placed into a small group of five or six participants. Each group was led by an expert moderator who will held office hours and group discussions at set times during the course to ensure that group members got the material they needed, received answers to any questions they may have had, and address any other concerns. We had an incredible roster of participants and the group chats in particular were a great way for participants to get to know their colleagues from diverse and varied backgrounds, and reinforce the collaborative nature of development work. We made a deliberate effort to place people in groups with others who shared their interests and learning goals.
- Guest Experts: A key component of the courses was providing participants access to leading experts in the field. We brought in a number practitioner guest experts such as Sean McDonald (FrontlineSMS), Patrick Meier (Ushahidi), Linda Raftree (Plan Intl), Panthea Lee (Reboot), Matt Levinger(USIP), Katrin Verclas (MobileActive), Bill Siemering (NPR and DRP), Laura McDonald (FrontlineSMS), Alex Priest, Gisli Olaffson (NetHope) and more. We live streamed each interview and allowed participants ask the experts questions in a real-time extended Q and A format. This was a great way for our participants to network with leading thinkers and practitioners in tech and social change related fields.
- Asynchronous Learning: With participants spread across multiple time zones it was necessary to provide a space for collaborative asynchronous learning. We addressed this need by creating a dynamic forum where participants could engage in discussions about the course materials as well as more thematic discussions. Moderators were assigned to each thread ensuring that discussions remained lively and relevant. In addition, participants who were unable to attend live discussions or guest expert interviews could submit questions ahead of each event.
Feedback from Guest Experts and Participants
“If transformative change truly begins with the individual and extends outward, I couldn’t have asked for a better first step!”
– PhD Student, Saybrook University
“TechChange provides the most valuable online courses on humanitarian technology that I know of. This is why I regularly refer colleagues from the UN and human rights groups to TechChange. They’re professional and always on top of the technology. They’ve also developed an excellent platform to maximize the value of online training.”
– Patrick Meier, Director of Crisis Mapping, Ushahidi
“It has been so valuable to be able to not only access a variety of media and source materials all in one place, but to engage with thought leaders in the field who answered real questions from the course participants. I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in technology in disasters or ICT4D.”
– PhD Student, Tulane University
“True innovation in learning, with great support for social media tools and active for network building and experience sharing!”
– Grant Writer, Asoc Nuestros Ahijados
We want to thank all of the guest experts, moderators, and participants for making these courses a success.
TechChange End of Year Celebration
If you’re in DC, come visit us at the TechChange end of year celebration on November 30th at Busboys and Poets (K and 5th Street Location). See our online learning platform in action, talk to other students who’ve taken our courses and enjoy some great food and drinks. Space is running out so RSVP by sending a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or by RSVPing on the Facebook event page.
View more information about our upcoming courses.