On Wednesday, Nov. 20, we were proud to help facilitate the online engagement for a Wilson Center event on New Visions for Citizen Science. It was a perfect follow-up to the last time we visited for the Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management as well as the launch of an exciting new report we’re already circulating around the office.

For an organization such as ours, an event exploring technology to support public participation in scientific research was not only interesting, but directly relevant to our learning community. Which is why we were excited to not only be able to attend in person and share the livestream, but also to have the opportunity to ask questions from our classes during the event itself!

Our two courses currently in session (Mobile Phones for Public Health and Mapping for International Development) were able to tune in and ask multiple questions of the panel (check in the Q&A for what we asked) and get responses. Because the event organizers reached out to us in advance and emphasized including the online community as well as those in the room (which is our preference for live events), we were able to add the event to our curriculum and use it as an interactive learning experience for our students.

For that, we’d like to express our gratitude to the Wilson Center for not only convening an excellent conversation about citizens participating in scientific inquiry, but for using technology to expand that conversation to citizens around the world who can learn from these case studies.

Curious about what you missed? Check out our photo gallery and the video archive of the event below (or check it out on the Wilson Center website)




Global OPS TechChangeTechChange is proud to be working with Global OPS, a platform for global peacebuilding, to provide real-time, customized assistance and professional development training for policy makers and peacebuilding practitioners working on the ground globally for peacebuilding, conflict prevention, and post-war recovery.

Using TechChange’s interactive e-learning platform, Global OPS will offer tailored support and training facilitation for UN experts and agencies, senior diplomats, government officials, peace practitioners, inter-governmental organisations staff, ministry staff and local authorities, and international organisations. These communities of practice will be forums to exchange lessons learned and timely knowledge on peacebuilding, prevention, crisis management, post-war recovery and stabilisation, and mediation and support for peace processes across the world.

To address key needs for peacebuilding, mediation and peace processes, conflict prevention, and post-war recovery, Global OPS modules have been developed to benefit peacebuilding practitioners based on extensive consultation with missions, agencies, organisations and governments in the field. Module facilitators are selected among a highly competitive pool of leading professionals with proven on-the-ground knowledge, expertise, and experience.

The first  two modules of Global OPS begin in a pilot phase on November 20th 2013:

  1. Early Warning, Early Response and Contemporary Peace Operations (12 weeks)
  2. Putting Theory into Practice: The link from Project Cycle to Evaluation, Design and Implementation (5 weeks)

A further launch of 9 modules will take place in March 2014 in the first full semester of Global OPS.

For more information on these courses, please visit http://globalopsonline.org/global-ops-modules/.

About Global OPS

Global OPS is a joint programme of the Department of Peace Operations and the International Peace and Development Training Centre (IPDTC) of PATRIR. It has been created to meet a critical need in the peacebuilding and global crisis and conflict management community to provide high quality customised support for agencies, experts, practitioners and policy-makers in the field through real-time, targeted and customised assistance.

You can check out the Global Ops website at  www.globalopsonline.org.

If your organization is interested engaging employees with interactive and customized online training, please contact TechChange at info [at] techchange [dot] org.


One of the most difficult things as an entrepreneur is transitioning from a single person with an idea to a team of colleagues with a shared creative vision. Such a transition involves trust, time, and a certain degree of terror. But finding these fellow travelers who bring new skills, perspectives, and outlooks to bear on the original idea is without question the key to everything.

Over the past three years at TechChange, I’ve had the privilege working with hundreds of inspiring individuals: staff, advisory board members, and partners. Given the incessant pace of start-up life, it is sometimes easy to neglect the distance already traveled, the road already taken. Today, I’d like to to reflect on that journey and the contributions of one amazing individual: Chris Neu.

I first met Chris in the spring of 2010 while he was still working at the US Institute of Peace (USIP). I got a call from Dominic, my colleague and co-founder, saying “Chris Neu one of the smartest people I’ve ever met – he’s interested in coming over to work with us.” I remember thinking to myself, “One of the smartest people – huh? We’ll see.”

Three years later, I can confirm that Dominic was right.

Chris Neu is a firestorm of creativity, intelligence, and hard work. He is hardwired for start-up culture and possesses a rare unbridled energy for everything he does. He is the chief operations officer, the chief of staff, the photographer, the bookkeeper, the proposal writer, the facilitator, the blogger, the project manager, and so much more.  He wears a TechChange t-shirt to every event and can be found enthusiastically sharing our story and message late into the night. And while he’s a frequent contributor to the many hilarious conversations that emerge in our tiny 3rd floor loft, he’s not afraid to take the hard line or unpopular stance in the interest of keeping the organization on track. He’s also the one hassling to me write more blog posts, so here you go, Chris!

Every leadership team is different but I believe the successful ones have people with complementary skill sets and fundamentally different personalities at the helm. To those sitting on great idea, I can confidently say: find someone who challenges you and disagrees with you, someone who pushes you to work harder and do more. Chris Neu is that person for me.

While in some sense the journey for TechChange is still just beginning, so much of our current success is a direct consequence of Chris’s tireless efforts over the past three years.

So today please join me in saying: Happy Birthday Mr. Neu and thank you for all you do for TechChange!

(Stay tuned as a I profile other staff members in weeks to come. Next up: Will Chester)

TechChange Hope Phones donation mHealthWhat if your old phone could help improve the health of populations in developing nations? Did you know that 500,000 cell phones are discarded in the United States every day?

TechChange is donating phones to empower global health practitioners in developing countries via Medic Mobile’s Hope Phones mobile donation program. The program’s goal is to responsibly reduce hazardous waste from mobile electronics while simultaneously promoting public health in developing countries.

When Nick Martin and Medic Mobile’s president, Josh Nesbit, last met during PopTech 2013, they  instantly connected over their common interest in mHealth. Although the number of mobile phones and mobile subscriptions are increasing worldwide, there is still a significant need to empower global community health workers with these tools to promote better health for more people. According to the Medic Mobile, “If we can recycle just 1% of disposed phones each year, we can outfit 1 million health workers, improving the lives of 50 million people.”

There is also a need to learn the latest best practices and innovations in mHealth. Learn how you can donate your phone here and join us in our upcoming mHealth online course with the mHealth Alliance! This course regularly attracts an exciting global community of doctors, public health practitioners, mobile service providers, health research specialists, and others to learn how mobile technology can address HIV, tuberculosis, maternal health, vaccinations, and improve healthcare delivery. Hope to see you in the course!

Freedom Polio India mHealth programWe’re excited to be mentioned in the New York Times in an article on mobile technology for social good!

The article, titled “Ubiquitous Across Globe, Cellphones Have Become Tool for Doing Good”, discusses how mobile phones are becoming more useful beyond entertainment in developing countries and emerging markets. Increasingly, organizations are using SMS text messages to provide goods and services including water, energy, financial services, healthcare, and education.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The number of [mobile public-private partnerships] seems likely to increase. “The development community is eager to learn more about how to use mobiles effectively,” said Nick Martin, a founder of TechChange, a social enterprise based in Washington that educates development practitioners via online courses.

Mr. Martin said his most popular course has been Mobiles for Development. In the last three years, TechChange has taught the course eight times to nearly 400 participants from over 60 countries.

MHealth, or mobiles used for health services, is the most “evolved” of the mobile sectors, Mr. Martin said. Large-scale campaigns in mHealth have focused primarily on maternal health and vaccination campaigns.

Check out the entire article in the New York Times here.


Pre-natal education for new mothers via mobile phones

Mobile phones are more than just communications devices; they are also powerful tools to improve health care. Since 2012, TechChange and the mHealth Alliance have offered a four-week online certificate course in mHealth: Mobile Phones for Public Health.

Our mHealth course has brought together an incredible group of roughly 100 doctors, community health workers, academic researchers, IT administrators, and government officials from over 35 countries to share knowledge. Each time we do the course, we’ve been amazed at how mHealth has advanced global health.

Here are the three key mobile innovations changing the delivery of health care services that we’ll cover in our next course, which starts on November 18th.

1. Text Messages for Pregnant Mothers

Nearly 800 women die of childbirth or pregnancy-related complications every day, and 2.9 million newborn deaths occur every year. At the same time, at least 1 billion women in low- and middle-income countries own mobile phones, providing a promising opportunity to use mobile phones to improve maternal and child health. On Mother’s Day 2011, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), a public-private partnership between USAID, Johnson & Johnson, the mHealth Alliance, the United Nations Foundation, and BabyCenter.

MAMA message templates can be downloaded for free, which means any organization can take advantage of this content to prepare pregnant mothers for childbirth. In our online course, we’ll learn how to customize these messages for different contexts and help participants determine what technical platforms are best for delivering these messages. SMS technical platforms we plan to feature include FrontlineSMS, Telerivit, Voto Mobile, EngageSpark, and Textit.

2. Support for Community Health Workers

recent report by Dalberg found that Sub-Saharan Africa will need to train more than 1 million additional community health workers to keep up with health care demands. Medic Mobile and Last Mile Health are two organizations working to provide training to community health care workers in countries like Liberia and Malawi. They have teamed up to create a mobile network for a district in Liberia and to design a mobile application that will dramatically improve community health care worker training and management. This mobile app will also improve community health care worker communication with clinicians based in health facilities. The mobile platform will also include automatic data collection and a reporting system that will create stronger, more efficient systems to manage patient records and monitor data quality.

Learn about how these organizations are using mobile technology to provide training for community health care workers and what other technologies and strategies organizations can use to provide similar support to marginalized populations. As part of the mHealth course, we’ll feature workshops with some of the leading software platforms for data collection and patient management, including  CommCare and Magpi.

3. Moving Beyond the Pilot Phase

In recent years, a great deal of mHealth projects have entered the pilot phase, but few have gone on to reach scale. Among those that have scaled are Ureport, an SMS-based civic engagement platform based in Kenya, and Project Mwana in Zambia, which works to increase the testing and treatment of infants born with HIV. These projects show that with adequate preparation and when designing with scale in mind, it is possible to move beyond the pilot stage and increase the reach of mHealth programs.

However, sometimes barriers to scale can come from funders’ reluctance to support scaling programs rather than funding new and innovative ones. In our online mHealth course, we will look at strategies to get beyond scale, including human-centered design, working with funders, and learning from past mistakes.


We hope you decide to join us and meet all kinds of professionals from around the world working in the field of mHealth. Don’t miss out on what will be a great course!

Join this global mHealth learning community by signing up for the course today.

On Friday, Nov. 1, TechChange was honored to participate in a panel at the latest Tech@State  conference on education technology, as well as sponsor the informal reception afterwards to celebrate ten years of e-diplomacy. We wanted to share a few thoughts below of the day to continue the conversation online!



Nick Martin (far right) on the Tech@State panel on “Using MOOCs in a Global Context”

1) There is a gap between a classroom and MOOC

Throughout the panel on “Using MOOCs in a Global Context”, the distinction between online education and MOOCs came up repeatedly. MOOCs are a form of online education, but not the only form. And that’s problematic because educators are feeling like they are stuck with a binary choice. However, there are alternatives that we’ve been exploring that allow highly interactive small-group forums. Taylor Corbett (@data4d) of OpenEMIS gave a short ignite talk during the session, and part of us wondered what it would be like if you could instantly go back and watch the talk afterwards or click around content while he spoke, or ask him questions directly in a conversational manner — just as students were able to do in our Mobiles for International Development course when Taylor spoke there only a few weeks ago.


John Maeda, President of the Rhode Island School of Design, giving his keynote address

2) Instructional design will be as important as educational content

A recurring theme throughout the day was the increasing significance of design. John Maeda nailed it during a talk that included elements of his previous TED Talk on How Art, Technology, and Design Inform Creative Leaders. We’ve written previously on how content will be vital for online education, similar to what’s happening with Netflix for online video, but what came across was that design will be at a premium for not just what gets included, but how. This is literally a matter of life and death, as Maeda pointed out that Florence Nightingale saved lives of soldiers not with nursing, but with statistics and a clever visualization that influenced decision makers to look at thousands of soldiers dying needlessly in hospitals. We’ve tried to think critically about design in our own work — getting the most information into as few seconds of student experience as possible, such as our logo animation redesign.

105 Alumni

TC105: M4D course alumni hanging out at the e-Diplomacy happy hour at 1776 DC

3) You can’t network over a beer in online education

One of our course facilitators, Graham Lampa (@grahamlampa) brought up an excellent point in our MOOC panel, which is that the informal qualities of education and in-person experiences can be as valuable as the formal knowledge transfer. Until you can virtually “grab a beer” with someone, online education will not be able to replace the informal qualities. However, there are ways to leverage both! We sponsored the happy hour at 1776, where they had tweets from the day on #edip10 and #techatstate displayed on large monitors (courtesy of Zoomph), so that the walls were removed between offline and online content.

Moreover, we had a great time seeing everybody from our classes who we had the pleasure of meeting in person, including our Alumni Beth Ceryak (@bethceryak), Matt, and more!

Did you attend the 2013 Tech@State conference and come away with any other conclusions? Feel free to post your comment below and/or share your thoughts using the hashtags, #techatstate and #edip10.