In the Fall 2013 session of TechChange’s online course on mHealth – Mobiles for Public Health, several participants attended the fifth annual mHealth Summit, a dynamic conference welcoming clinical, policy, tech, business, and academic experts to reflect on the evolution and future of mHealth.

Setting up an exhibition booth, the TechChange team attended the 2013 mHealth Summit to document the perspectives of mHealth newcomers and experts alike. We were fortunate to see some of the guest experts in our upcoming mHealth class such as Kelly Keisling from NetHope and the mHealth Working Group, Alain Labrique from Johns Hopkins, and alumnus Apera Iorwakwagh of the mHealth Alliance.

Among those we interviewed at the 2013 mHealth Summit, Dr. Layla McCay, physician, policy influencer, Huffington Post blogger, and TC309 alumna, shared her online learning experience in TC309:

See a segment of her blog post, Why mHealth Is Caught Between Vision and Reality, submitted as a TC309 final project, and published on HuffPost Tech:

At the mHealth Summit, Steve Case defined the three stages of entrepreneurship as hype, hope, and happiness. The collective imaginations of Summit delegates have been inspired by “hype” — we believe in the potential of mHealth as a health service improvement tool. That’s why we showed up. This conference seems to be planting us firmly in the “hope” phase — we recognize the significant barriers, the practical challenges to implementation. These are still early days in mHealth. What’s clear is that while mHealth may be caught between vision and reality, it’s not stuck there. It’s going to be amazing. Eventually. When it is, we’ll move into the “happiness” phase, where the potential is realized: the infrastructure’s in place, and mHealth is just a conventional, effective tool that everyone’s using in health care. The specifics of what this success will look like is impossible to predict as the field is moving so fast. What can be easier predicted, is at this point, the entrepreneurs will circle to the next hype.

We look forward to hearing and reading more from Layla and other TC309 alumni!

Want to learn more about mHealth and the latest developments in mobile technology in public health? Register now for this 4-week online course on mHealth. Join Kendra Keith, a global health professional specializing in mHealth, as she facilitates of the Fall course starting November 17, 2014.

Kendra Keith

Kendra is a global health professional passionate about integrating mobile technologies in public health programs, particularly those targeting quality improvement of maternal and newborn health services, elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and meeting the information and training needs of community health workers. She has diverse mHealth experience including program pilot, evaluation and scale-up in Southern Province, Zambia and donor policy and implementation with the USAID Office of Health Systems. She is a “healthie”, holding a MPH from Boston University School of Public Health, but envious of all “techies”. As a TC309 alumna, she is excited to join the TechChange team to assist facilitation of the upcoming session.

All of the top seeds survived the first round unscathed. In beating their competition, CAPS LOCK CRAZY, Russian Radio Appeal, The New Cartographers, and The Thorough Beards continued the streak of top seeds never losing to the bottom seed. But not all of the 2-seeds were as lucky. Here’s the bracket as of now:

Battle of the Bands - Sweet 16


We have more exciting matchups this week with heavyweights CAPS LOCK CRAZY and Hierarchy of Fonts slugging it out. But, first, here are 5 things we learned from the Round of 32:

  1. There is no statistical correlation between Zombies and winning.
    Two band names heavily featured zombies, but only one made it through to the Sweet Sixteen. Though zombies may be all of the rage these days, zombies alone do not seem to be enough to win.

  2. Dollar Signs in Band Names Are So 2008.
    Just like the dollar sign in Ke$ha, Ca$h Money Mug$ is out. Perhaps Ca$h Money Mug$ should never have made the band name wall in the first place, but it seems more likely that putting special characters in your band name just isn’t that cool.

  3. Puns are the best.
    So far, the most dominant band names have involved wordplay. Schroedinger’s Server, Beauty School Valedictorian, The Thorough Beards, and The New Cartographers. All winners, and all punny.

  4. Ready, Aim, Advocate: Overrated or overmatched?
    Despite being one of the strongest two seeds, Ready, Aim, Advocate only barely made the Sweet Sixteen. Maybe the band name isn’t as strong as initially believed or perhaps It’s A Different Noodle was drastically underseeded. Either way, the Selection Committee needs to reevaluate their reliance on the RBI (Really Bad Index) as a valuable indicator of potential tournament performance.

  5. Nobody correctly predicted every matchup.
    That’s right. After only 16 matchups, not a single perfect bracket exists! Unfortunately, nobody is going to win 1 Billion TechPoints this year from the coffers of TechChange CEO & President Nick Martin, but there are still more amazing matchups coming up!

Ready for the Sweet 16? Vote below.

We’re continuing to the next round of our Battle of the Band Names from last week’s Round of 32! We’re parodying the currently-on-going NCAA’s Basketball Tournament to choose the best of the band names we’ve come up with over the last year (all written on a whiteboard in our old office). We’re asking you for help in choosing the best band name!

By Lauren Bailey, TC309: mHealth – Mobile Phones for Public Health alumna

Lauren Bailey

My final project for TechChange’s mHealth online course overlapped a final project for a master level global environmental health course. I’m currently working towards a Master of Public Health degree, concentrating in global environmental health, and specifically focusing in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). I recently became interested in mHealth and decided to do my global environmental health course project on mHealth in the WASH sector. Since I was new to mHealth, I kept the project simple, touching on some basics. This background document includes: (1) applications of mHealth in WASH; (2) case studies; and (3) recommendations.

Throughout TC309, I became increasingly interested in how mHealth can be applied to behavior change, a major component of reducing WASH-related illness. The mHealth online course has been a wonderful way to learn about the different applications of mHealth, the challenges and successes of programs, and the future possibilities of mHealth. I’ve been inspired by many of the articles, discussions, and live presentations and am now incorporating mHealth into my master’s thesis.

Here is the infographic I created, using Piktochart as part of my course project:

mHealth-in-WASH-infographic_Lauren Bailey


  1. Mobile phones offer a means to reach most at-risk populations, particularly those in rural areas, to change health outcomes.
  2. More individuals in most African countries will have access to a mobile phone than they will to an improved water source by 2013.
  3. Mobile phones have been deployed over the past decade as tools to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene.
  4. Client education and behavior change communication, data collection and reporting, financial transactions and incentives, and supply chain management are potential mHealth applications categories.

To read Lauren’s entire final project from the online course, mHealth: Mobile Phones for Public Health, please click here.

Interested in learning more about how mobile phones are impacting WASH, healthcare, and promoting health worldwide? Register now for our 4-week online on mHealth here.


How would you define mHealth?

Check out these mHealth definitions from a few of the attendees from last December’s mHealth Summit 2013 in Washington, DC, including several speakers and alumni from our mHealth online course:

Do you define mHealth differently or similarly? How has mHealth impacted your life and work?

Let us know, and join us for our next round of TC309: mHealth – Mobile Phones for Public Health!

It’s official! On March 31, TechChange will officially move to our new home on 13 & U St. NW.

While we’re looking forward to having more space, better light, and a more convenient location for our partners (as well as joining a U St. tech corridor), we’re going to miss our longtime home that has given us so much.

So, with the end of one chapter being a perfect time to reflect on the time we…..


10) Tried out our new Microwave S’Mores Maker (and made a mess).

TechChange staff making and eating smores.


9) Performed our Fail Song for the first time in front of a live audience.

Office Fail Fest


8) Forgot to coordinate our outfits for the week. Whoops.



7) Met a new friend during an online event on mHealth.




6) Hosted Sondos and Nagham of the TechGirls Program for #JobShadowDay

Office TechGirls 

5) Helped an excitable bird safely depart the premises.

Office Bird


4) Tried “prawn” potato chips from China after an extended staff trip.



Swetha and Chinese Snacks


3) Assembled our new “ANIMATION DOMINATION” creative machines.

Assembly Computer


2) Celebrated the Lunar New Year in style with Bánh tét

Lunar New Year


1) Tim Tam Slams. What else?

Office Tim Tam


At TechChange, we can never get enough of mobile technology because it is constantly changing and reaching more people, even the most remote and low-income parts of the world. Many in the TechChange alumni community feel similarly as our Mobiles for International Development class remains to be our most popular online course to date with more than 400 participants from over 65 countries.

As Nick mentioned in the New York Times last year, mHealth, or mobiles for public health, is the most “evolved” of the mobile sectors. There are several large-scale mHealth campaigns that have focused primarily on maternal health and vaccination campaigns. As noted in the article, several companies such as Dimagi, ZMQ and Medic Mobile have made cellphones into tools for promoting health among rural health workers via open-source software.

These technology providers are not the only players in the mHealth industry. There are also mHealth program implementers, research institutions, initiatives, and policymakers/donors. Everytime we offer this mHealth course, we change our topics, tools and speakers due to the evolving nature of the field.

Here’s the speaker line-up for Spring 2014 who will be joining us for this upcoming round of the course, which runs March 31 – April 25, 2014:

mHealth Mobiles Public Health TechChange spring 2014

Week 1
Dr. Elena Dmitrieva will discuss the maternal health Text4Baby program in Russia.
Dr. Alain Lebrique representing the Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative, will explain the role of mHealth in achieving a continuum of care.

Week 2
Jesse Young, CTO of Telerivet, will demo their mobile messaging platform.
Nicolas di Tada will provide an overview of InSTEDD technology platforms.

Week 3
Ray Brunsting of the Tula Foundation will speak about their program in Guatemala.

Week 4
Mohini Bhavsar, a field manager with Dimagi, will discuss the Commcare platform.
Kelly Keisling, co-chair of the mHealth Working Group, will discuss groups and resources for individuals in the mHealth field.

We’re very excited to have over 45 participants enrolled from more than 12 countries representing organizations such as Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Adcem Healthcare Limited, Catholic Relief Services, Chevron, Fistula Care Plus, Howard University, International Medical Corps, Jhpiego, Kuwait University Medical School, Mercy Corps, MIT, National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors, Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, U.S. Dept. of State, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Plan International Canada, RTI, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, University of Leeds, University of Michigan Health System, University of Notre Dame Masters of Global Health Program, University of South Carolina, University of Texas Medical Branch, VillageReach, and World Vision Malawi.

Don’t miss out on this mHealth class! Enroll today!

It was a long Sunday night for the TechChange Selection Committee. After everybody else was long asleep, brackets printed, hours of analysis on ESPN consumed, and even the angry tweet of Nate Silver had lost its glimmer, the Selection Committee left the nerd attic with a bracket that will make March Madness look like child’s play.

There aren’t a billion dollars online for a perfect bracket. Nobody will emerge victorious with a ring. This won’t affect anybody’s lottery pick.

This is simply for glory.

Over the past year, we have amassed an incredible number of potential band names in our office. With every random utterance of an unexpectedly catchy phrase, somebody yells “Band name!” And the ingenious, or just lucky, speaker gets the enviable task of adding the new band name to the already cluttered wall–basking for a moment in the limelight.

In the spirit of March Madness, we selected the best of the best and placed them in a seeded* bracket. In the end, our highly scientific process created the bracket below.


Help us choose the winner of the Battle of the Band Names by casting your votes below! Each week, we will release a new set of matchups (and an updated bracket) until we find our winner. The winner will become the official band name of the Official TechChange Band.**

The stakes have never been higher.

Make your voice heard.

* We believe our Selection Committee is as qualified, if not more qualified, than the NCAA’s Selection Committee. We would have seeded Louisville much higher.
** We are currently looking for talented guitarists, bass guitarists, drummers, keyboardists, accordionists, singers, songwriters, and woodblock players for our band.

Mercy (pictured with Maeghan Ray Orton from Medic Mobile) at UMCom workshop in Malawi

Posted by TechChange alumnus, Neelley Hicks, ICT4D Director of United Methodist Communications.

Mobile phones seem to be everywhere in Africa, and they’re keeping people in touch with health, education, banking, and community empowerment.

“Email and Facebook are problems…but this text messaging – it’s no problem,” says Betty Kazadi Musau who lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In early August 2013, I spent the week with Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo, who provides healthcare in communities in Malawi. Recently, she took an online course through TechChange called “Mobile Phones for Public Health.” She wondered what impact mobile phones could have on her health program in Madisi, so she conducted a test.

The problem: HIV+ men were not coming to the support group and health management classes.

The test: Separate into two control groups – one would receive text reminders about the next meeting and the other would not.

The results: Out of the 20 who did not receive text messages, five attended. Out of the 30 who did receive text messages, 25 attended and were standing in queue when she arrived.

One client said, “You reached me where I was.” This isn’t a small thing. Often community health workers walk miles to find someone only to learn they are away. But the mobile phones stay with the person – making them much easier to reach.

Mercy conducted this test directly through her mobile phone and it took her nearly all day. But with FrontlineSMS, she can enter mobile numbers easily for group messaging. She said, “After the online course, the UMCom workshop (in Blantyre), and these conversations, my eyes have become wide open.”

Join us in our next round of Mobiles for International Development and mHealth: Mobiles for Public Health online courses! 

To read the original post on Neelley’s blog, “Stories in ICT4D”, please click here.

“By Failing To Prepare, You Are Preparing To Fail.” – Benjamin Franklin.

In the last several weeks, I’ve been learning a lot about emergency response from TC103 facilitator, Timo Luege, who will launch the latest round of the Tech Tools & Skills for Emergency Management online course starting today.

Since I met Timo, I’ve been struck by his calm demeanor and composure, which is a key and necessary trait to sustain a career in emergency management and humanitarian aid in the face of crisis situations. After he shared some good practices for disaster emergency response, I asked him:

“How does one remain so calm when working in a career in disaster response?”

His answer?


According to Timo, “Training, preparation and having protocols and processes in place for different scenarios are the best guarantee for remaining calm during a crisis. This is especially true for security. There are too many organisations that don’t prepare or support their staff properly and expose them to situations they don’t know how to handle.”

That said, is there enough training in place for emergency managers to have more success in disaster response and resilience for future unforeseen disasters? What have been some of the best emergency management trainings and preparation guides?

What role can technology play in helping to manage disaster response? Looking to learn disaster response tips from professionals who have worked in disaster areas? Sign up now for this 4-week online course on Tech Tools and Skills for Emergency Management, which begins on November 24!


By Taylor Corbett – Data Lead SOS Venezuela, guest speaker of TC105: Mobiles for International Development

On February 12th, Haydee Izaguirre woke up to images of her home country of Venezuela in turmoil. Students, fed up with the country’s record number of homicides, crippling inflation, food shortages, and rampant corruption had taken to the streets in protest. The Venezuelan Government’s response was swift jailing opposition leaders, censoring media coverage, and beating protesters drawing rebukes from the international community. 2,600 miles away Haydee, a US resident and human rights specialist, turned to Facebook and Twitter for updates as government censors tightened their grip. As information became ever more scarce she knew other Venezuelans living abroad were facing similar hurdles. Two days later, fed up with the lack of real news, Haydee took action by starting a Facebook group and webpage dedicated to collecting and sharing updates on what was happening on the ground.

Not knowing what to expect, Haydee went to bed that night with two Facebook followers. The next morning she was surprised to see that number had jumped to 718 followers. Later that evening the number had grown to 10,000. For the remainder of that weekend SOS Venezuela’s Facebook group grew exponentially adding one follower nearly every second. By the weekend’s end Haydee and her sister Cassandra found themselves administering a group of over 73,000 followers. In the three weeks since these numbers have continued to grow to over 190,000 followers from 56 countries. In that time Haydee and her group of 7 volunteers have published thousands of pieces of content generating over 72 million impressions and 1.8 million interactions (likes, comments) with users from 100 countries.

As SOS Venezuela has grown it’s mission has shifted from being a platform for information sharing to activism. Today, SOS Venezuela’s primary function is to generate worldwide awareness about the student movement’s goals and grievances. As SOS has grown it has become a safe place for Venezuelans and the global community to voice their opinions through the sharing of photos, videos, media and op-ed pieces.

Asked to join the team early on as SOS Venezuela’s Data Lead I’ve had the opportunity to watch our viral growth through the lens of social media metrics. Three weeks in, there are many interesting lessons about SOS Venezuela’s success that can be gleaned from these numbers, but the most significant are the following:

  • Seeing the Demand – While we would like to attribute SOS Venezuela’s initial viral growth to our social media savvy the truth is more simple. Our success can first and foremost be attributed to Haydee’s ability to see where there was a strong demand for greater coordination and her willingness to fill that void. After starting the group Haydee put an emphasis on sharing relevant content giving SOS Venezuela legitimacy with key stakeholders in Venezuela and their supporters abroad. While SOS Venezuela has been made possible by the contributions and commitment of our team, truth is, nearly anyone with the foresight and willingness to act could have found themselves in our position.

Map of Followers by Country



SOS Venezuela - Images.jpg

  • Beyond “Like-tivism” – These metrics also show that SOS Venezuela’s success has been driven by promoting opportunities for action. Over the last three weeks SOS Venezuela has publicized over 355 rallies in 254 cities around the world that have drawn thousands, if not tens of thousands, of supporters. In addition, SOS Venezuela has set up processes through which followers can contact elected representatives in 17 countries to express their support for the protests. Finally, SOS Venezuela has requested and received hundreds of photos of support from individuals around the world (some pictured above) making it a source of moral support for protesters in the streets.

Rally - SOSV.jpg


  • Content & Coordination – Finally, SOS Venezuela’s success has been driven by its content and team. As SOS Venezuela grew Haydee reached out to friends and volunteers to whom she delegated key tasks allowing SOS Venezuela to grow more quickly. Today our team has grown to be comprised of 7 volunteers, each managing one aspect of SOS Venezuela’s operations. Through the use of open source tools (Google Docs, Google Fusion Tables, Google Translate, etc) we’ve been able to remotely collaborate to collect, organize, and publish thousands of pieces of content gleaned from the media and SOS Venezuela’s followers. Without the support of these volunteers and platforms we would not be able to continuously engage our followers with new information and opportunities for action.

As the protesters march on we continue to look for new ways to meaningfully engage with our users to raise awareness and promote action for a safe, prosperous, and just Venezuela.

If you would like to learn more about SOS Venezuela, you can connect with them via:

Facebook –
Twitter –
Instagram –

Interested in this topic and Social Media for Social Change? Sign up now for our upcoming course on Social Media for Social Change.