[UPDATE: Course rescheduled for April 8th, 2013]

We’re very sorry to inform you that we are rescheduling the Digital Organizing and Open Government course that was originally scheduled to begin on this Monday, January 7. If you have already paid for a seat in the course, we will (of course) refund your tuition in full if you so desire, or we will hold your spot in the rescheduled course as well as offering you a complimentary seat in our upcoming course: Tech Tools and Skills for Emergency ManagementThe reason for this unexpected schedule change at such a late date is that the Lead Facilitator, Christopher Neu, dislocated his shoulder and will be unable to type for several weeks. Rather than find a last-minute replacement, we opted instead to offer the course at a later date with the original experience intact. We apologize for any inconvenience and still hope to see you in class!



We’re excited about starting class on January 7th! We’ve already received applications from Senegal, Italy, Egypt, Spain, Cameroon, Kenya, Sweden, Haiti, India, UK, and more. However, we’ve had a number of questions about the course format, content, experts, and exercises that we wanted to address in more detail. Please let us know if this helps!


We’ve designed our courses specifically to combine self-paced multimedia content with real-time video engagement with experts. We have also included hands-on exercises to get you familiar with the tools under discussion under guidance from our staff. Courses are expected to take 5-9 hours per week of effort with a minimum of one real-time interaction, but can also be completed up to three months after the end of live courses. Broadly speaking, these are the themes that will be discussed during the four weeks of the course:

  • Week 1: Introduction to Core Themes (Jan. 7)
  • Week 2: Tech Tools for Digital Organizing (Jan. 14)
  • Week 3: Tech Tools for Open Gov and Open Data (US) (Jan. 21)
  • Week 4: Final Project–Toward Global Open Government (Jan. 28)


Part of the course revolves around reading the latest research and discussing as a class. To that effect, we’ll be exploring the latest research from leading experts on “liberation technologies” such as Patrick Meier; crowd-sourced manuals (including one of our favorite: The Outsider’s Guide to Supporting Nonviolent Resistance to Dictatorship); and other videos, blog posts, and academic research. We try to balance the readings to contribute to expert discussions so that participants can dive deeper into core content in their field.


We’re excited about the broad panel of experts that we’ve lined up to hold live class discussions via video over the four weeks.

  • Kaushal Jhalla of the World Bank will be speaking about the challenges and potential of big data and development
  • Jordan Menzel of CrowdHall on the topic of using technology for public engagement and accountable government
  • Linda Raftree of Plan International, USA on open data and community engagement
  • Wayne Burke of the Open Forum Foundation on building sustainable communities around open government.


Moving beyond content and experts, we’ve designed hands-on exercises for each week of the course to familiarize students with the tools under discussion.

  • Week 1: Explore application of social media tools with guides from Movements.org including Twitter and other social media.
  • Week 2: Public access tools such as CrowdHall to be used for engaging public figures in dialogue.
  • Week 3: Domestic/US-oriented open gov resources from Sunlight Labs including Open State Project, Stream Congress, and ClearSpending.
  • Week 4: International final project exploring open government in your home country: How can you get involved?


We hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any other questions by leaving a comment, tweeting @techchange, or sending an email to chris [at] techchange.org. Thanks!

The end of the year is now upon us. We just wanted to thank you from the bottom of our hearts and the top of our DC nerd attic for making 2012 our best one yet. Specifically, thanks to your course feedback, content contributions, happy hour attendance, and tuition dollars, we’ve trained over 1,400 participants in 70 countries in how to better use technology for social change.

New Online Courses:
We have expanded on our original set of courses (Emergency Management, Digital Organizing, and Mobiles for International Development) into exciting new spaces. A few courses we’d like to highlight:

  • (TC309) Mobile Phones and Public Health: Our largest open enrollment course so far, we were joined by over 100 students in 25 countries. Developed in partnership with the UN Foundation’s mHealth Alliance, we also piloted our new in-course tool simulator for D-Tree!
  • USAID Courses on Mobile Money: Through a custom course for 80 USAID mission staff in 7 countries, we’re helping build development capacity in mobile phones. Next up? Turning this course into a self-paced interactive module to scale the program.
  • TOL Journalist Training for “Reporting on Education” in E. Europe: Developed in partnership with Transitions Online (TOL), BBC, and The Guardian, we shared our platform with TOL to train 20 journalists over a 2-week period. This was our first course ever with non-TechChange content and external facilitators!
  • (TC201) Ushahidi: Frameworks for Effective Platform Management: Expanding on our “Emergency Management” course, we developed this course in partnership with Ushahidi to be a scalable complement to the Universities 4 Ushahidi program (U4U).
  • (TC108) Technology, Innovation, and Social Entrepreneurship: Developed in partnership with the Amani Institute, we wanted to not just teach content, but develop more social entrepreneurs to keep pushing the field forward.

Online-Enabled Public Events:
One of our initiatives this year has been to assist our partners in reaching a larger online audience and to start thinking of all public events as online-first. Events include:

  • International Conference of Crisis Mappers at the World Bank: We worked together with Crisis Mappers to produce the first livestreaming of ICCM, which led to an additional 950 unique viewers from all over the world!
  • Connecting Grassroots to Government at the Wilson Center: Building on our work for empowering Volunteer Technical Communities (VTCs), we took live questions from the online audience during this event. This was one of multiple events at the Wilson Center, which is leading the way in online-enabled events.
  • Expert Interviews at the mHealth Summit: Since the webcast was already provided, we focused on capturing expert knowledge from the attendees and partners for the mHealth Alliance. Most fun part? Getting pictures of attendees holding their cell phones to show their personal connection with the device.

Site Upgrades and Added Features:
In addition to a few other handy features, we’ve made a few big technical upgrades to our site in the hopes of improving user experience.

  • Launched a new, responsive TechChange.org! We much of 2011 promoting mobile-first design, so it was a relief to build a fully responsive site in 2012. Try re-sizing it in your browser!
  • Animating our content voiceovers. We’ve always been big fans of RSA Animate and iheed who produce educational video content, so we tried giving it a go ourselves. What do you think? We’re hoping to do plenty more in 2013.
  • Video-for-everyone course design. We switched from Ustream to OpenTok in 2012 to try to not just talk at our classes, but have discussions with you. It’s been a bumpy ride, but we’re working at optimizing for every browser and bandwidth.

Field Training and Workshops:
Tech training cannot be done by Internet alone. Here’s a few cases where we rolled up our sleeves and got to teaching the old fashioned way.

Finally, a particular highlight of the past year was the nice story run about us in The Economist. Read the article: Geeks for Good.

We hope to see you online, in person, or in class next year!

Warm regards,

The TechChange Team

Curious about learning with TechChange? Check out our upcoming class: Digital Organizing and Open Government. Class starts Jan 7! Apply Now.

Have you seen our latest video about TC104: Digital Organizing and Open Government?

This may just be a simple ad for our course, but it also showcases a lot of what we can do to create a learning experience through video. We thought we could use this video as a chance to show the process we go through any time we make a video.

Step 1: Conceptualize

The first step to producing any video is developing the content for it. Whether you’re dealing with a fictional narrative or factual documentation, whether your movie is thirty seconds or ninety minutes, the first and most important step will always be figuring out the story that you are telling.  We meet as a team – and with clients – to go over in detail exactly what information needs to be conveyed, and we develop a visual narrative around those ideas, drawing on the shared talents of our educators, tech experts, graphic designers, and video producer/editor (me!). From this collaborative process, we develop a script and produce a storyboard of what the final video will roughly look and flow like.

Step 2: Drawing/Filming

Once we have the concept fully fleshed out, we get to work on building the pieces we use for the final video. Our incredibly talented graphic designers draw the different pieces and make adjustments based on feedback; some of these pieces are fairly simple drawings, others are highly detailed and contain multiple frames of action that will ultimately get animated. Additionally, at this stage we produce a high quality audio track of the script, as well as potentially doing any live-action filming that is required (most commonly in front of a green-screen).

Step 3: Animating/Editing

Once we have the pieces made, we begin to assemble them together. Drawings are animated primarily using Adobe After Effects. First basic motions are mapped in time with the audio, and then more complex effects are added, such as sub-compositions/animations, lighting effects, motion effects, or anything else that’s needed. Generally, the animating phase begins while the drawing phase is still underway, so that if any problems arise with our original ideas for the video, we can easily and efficiently make adjustments. For example, in our TC104 video, we decided to flesh out the bike metaphor used near the beginning when the visual narrative around that section seemed weak, and it was a simple matter of drawing a few additional pieces and animating them into place.

Step 4: Revisions

The animation culminates in the production of a rough draft of the final video that is then reviewed first by the entire TechChange team. Here’s the rough draft we produced for TC104:

After any changes, we then go over a revised draft with the client. We carefully weigh their feedback to make a final round of adjustments to the video, and then we are done!

Key Takeaways

There are a few key lessons about this process that are worth highlighting and remembering:

  • The strength of the concept/story will carry over to the strength of the video. Having a strong script and audio track early in the process makes the whole process smoother.
  • Producing animations is a collaborative process. The input of experts and clients is extremely valuable, and our creative team is very talented and flexible in working to achieve the strongest possible video. Having multiple perspectives throughout the process is incredibly valuable, because viewers of the final product will have a wide range of perspective, too.
  • Producing animations is fun! It is an effective and easy way to uniquely convey any information to the entire world!

Hopefully this post has been an insightful look into our process. Please contact us with any questions about our process, or if you’d like us to help you produce videos!

Well, it only took us a full year of facilitating online courses, but we’re finally sharing some of our original content as part of launching our brand new Media Library. Right now it’s admittedly pretty sparse–mainly videos from our mHealth Course and interviews from the mHealth Summit–but that’s precisely because it was those events that convinced us to finally get our act together. Since the end of our mHealth course last week, we received dozens of requests from our 100+ students to share course content with their friends and colleagues, many of whom work in public health. A fitting request, since one of the main themes from the mHealth Summit is that content and partnerships are now trumping technology in scaling mobile phones for public health.

In our online courses we try to follow a rule of thirds for the 7-9 hours of participant time per week: ⅓ original content and animations, ⅓ live events and workshops, ⅓ existing publications/videos. While we’re very proud of the first ⅔ that we create, the last ⅓ has often been just as important in setting the stage for live conversations. It’s also an opportunity to showcase the best-in-class that we see from our partners, ranging from educational health videos like The Story of Cholera, to serious games on poverty like Ayiti: The Cost of Life, and of course the classic post: 11 Concerns about ICTs and ‘Social Media for Social Good.’

In addition to giving back to the global conversation around tech by making much of our past content available to the public, we’re hoping that this will keep us motivated to produce fresh, innovative content in each course. But it’s not just about what we’re giving, but what we’re planning to receive: namely, translating existing videos into other languages using wiki-style translation platforms such as Amara. Stay tuned for regular updates and please let us know what you think in the comments section below!

[UPDATE: Thank you so much to all the wonderful speakers who stopped by! We’ve posted many of the interviews in our media library!]

TechChange and mHealth Alliance are camped out at the mHealth Alliance booth in the Pavilion interviewing mHealth enthusiasts, professionals, and first-time conference goers about mobile phones for public health.

Come join – we want to hear your voice! If you’d like to set up a specific time, tweet @techchange and we’ll save you a slot. We will be closing shop at 4:00pm today, but we still want to hear from you!

We will also select key interviews for inclusion in our course: TC309 – Mobile Phones for Public Health.