Alyssa Luisi joined the TechChange team last week as an Instructional Design contractor. To introduce her to the team and our learning community, we sat down for a short Q&A.

Q: How was your first week?

It’s been great! Even while working remotely I felt very welcomed by the team, and diving into the projects was really straightforward.  I am grateful to have had the chance to visit the office this week-it’s such a nice space and being here has really helped me get a fuller picture of how everyone collaborates.  I’m also loving my new TechChange t-shirt!

Q: Could you share a bit about your background before TechChange?

I recently graduated with my MA in Anthropology & Sociology of Development from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.  I spent the past two years living in Geneva, Switzerland, with an exchange in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where I did some work with a local think tank focused on policy issues in BRICS countries.  After graduating, I returned to my home state of New Jersey, where I am currently based. Prior to going back to school, I worked in the New York/New Jersey area in various roles involving program management, travel planning, and supporting internal learning and change management initiatives.  I’m also an alumna of the College of William and Mary, where I studied International Development, with a focus on analyzing community-based development models.

Q: What originally interested you about joining TechChange?

The chance to contribute to influencing the international development space by offering accessible and engaging learning opportunities on key topics was exciting to me.  The team has done a great job of building a global network with a wide variety of organizations, and I love how the courses and workshops bring together people with hugely different backgrounds and experiences around the world!  Plus, it’s easy to see that team members are supportive of one another and driven to support TechChange’s mission.

Q: How does Instructional Design fit into your interests? What interests you in your projects?

I’m looking forward to leveraging my past training experiences to design content that really  ‘sticks’ with learners. I love creating moments where participants feel like they’ve gained something that could be transformative to their work.  This role also allows me to get an in-depth view of current initiatives and frontiers in really relevant areas like digital health and agriculture! For example, using digital tools to enable access to health resources in remote or unstable areas has been an increasingly important interest for me.  

Q: Anything you look forward to working on or learning at TechChange?

I’m looking forward to learning from TechChange’s expertise in teaching online, especially how to optimize student interaction!

Q: Lastly, what’s something that not a lot of people know about you?

Sometimes when I need a boost of energy during the day, I pump up some Bollywood music.   

TechChange recently worked with Making Cents International and The Rockefeller Foundation to produce a Demand-Driven Training (DDT) Toolkit to introduce, explain, and illustrate the best practices in jobs skills trainings for youth and to engage employers in targeted hiring, training, job coaching, and mentoring practices. The project represents a major accomplishment for the creative team, led by Creative Director Yohan Perera, and the instructional design team, led by Director of Instructional Design Shannon Fineran, and is the third installment in a series of interactive, toolkit-style PDFs engineered by the creative team for diverse TechChange clientele, including, previously, NetHope.




Demand-Driven Training (DDT) in youth workforce development refers to the development of customized skill sets to respond directly to specific requirements of a job role for or to the needs of employers which leads to direct employment placement or self-employment. The objective of the Toolkit is to provide information, tools,resources, examples, and current programs to businesses, educational providers, and other training programs so that those offering skills development and employment for young people can alter training and recruitment practices to become more aligned with market driven employment demand. Working with various global training service providers, Making Cents developed a source document for the Toolkit, a PDF spanning 40 pages, which was an ideal candidate for the intuitive interactivity and ease of use that a well-designed ePDF could offer.



The creative and instructional design teams partnered with content expert and lead researcher Branka Minic (Making Cents International) and project director Christy Olenik (Making Cents International) to design an interactive toolkit spanning around 60 pages at its completion. The creative team worked to ensure the seamless union of two separate style guides, while instructional designers offered guidance on content organization and layout and took on a copy editing role as the project neared its final stages.

The toolkit is available online at this link.

When building a community online, language should be a key consideration. While it’s true that our francophone users would be able to reasonably navigate an English-language platform, their opportunities for community may be restricted to our forums, minimizing connections with other areas of the platform and, more importantly, with course content. At the same time, anglophone users wouldn’t be able to meaningfully connect with their francophone colleagues in the forums without the kind of translation capability our Translation Manager feature is working to create.

TechChange, in partnership with Chemonics and the USAID HRH2030 program, recently launched a platform and course on Capacity Building for Malaria. Alongside advancements in our newly piloted Translation Manager, the Capacity Building for Malaria platform is the first of its kind in offering a fully integrated, bilingual experience for its user base, which is around 75% francophone, and 25% anglophone.

Given that a strong cohort of both French and English speakers were set to use the platform, the Instructional Design team opted to include both languages on the platform, with the French translation of course content appearing first to represent the larger cohort of francophone users from primarily West Africa.

It isn’t enough to offer resources on the platform in both English and French — in order to create a user experience that speaks to both our anglophone and francophone users, integration across the back end and front end is entirely necessary. As studies have shown, we connect with and retain information with greatest ease when it is presented in our primary language — when it comes to online learning, therefore, nothing should prevent this from being a priority. Narration, both in online courses and in video content, and subtitles are equally important considerations when constructing content in multiple languages.

TechChange’s recent partnership with Family Care International (FCI) resulted in two separate animations, one produced in English, the other in French, to reflect the dominant languages of target audience members, who were primarily from Kenya and Burkina Faso. Check out that project here, and stay tuned to learn more about TechChange’s advances in language integration.

While online learning has quickly advanced as a capacity building solution in the international development space, connectivity challenges continue to plague program implementation. For impact areas struggling with low- or no-bandwidth learning environments, the solution still requires physical travel of trainers to reach the desired intended audience. However, as we’ve reported repeatedly over the last seven years, including with offline-first delivery of Malaria training in Uganda and Nigeria, offline doesn’t have to mean old-school.

For example, TechChange recently partnered with Jhpiego to deliver a landmark course on Maternal and Child Survival Program in Liberia, which provided a blended and offline approach to training over a five-month period. In this post, we’ll share more about how this was accomplished from a technical perspective when it comes to building in Articulate 360. For those unfamiliar with Articulate, it serves as the primary rapid-authoring tool for building courses that can work on any major online learning platform….or even no platform at all! There are five key steps to success:

Step One: Replace Absolute Links with Relative Paths

Publishing Articulates for offline use often means creating a lot of relative paths, which involves a lot of files looking for other files within folders. So, what if you have a large project with many folders (and other Articulate files) linked up by relative paths, but want to deliver a single course file to the client that runs correctly and still “understands” where to find what it needs along its relative paths?

Here’s where Windows shortcuts come in handy. What you’ll need to do is 1) Place all linked Articulate files and documents in a single folder, which you then hide in the delivery folder, and 2) create a shortcut for the course launch file.

Because Windows shortcuts in their default form use absolute paths, you’ll need to make an adjustment to the shortcut in order to have it run on a relative path. The reason why is that absolute paths look for a file starting with the C:// drive of the computer that created the file — so, if you were to deliver an absolute shortcut to a client, the pathway would look for a file on your C:// drive, instead of looking for a file relative to its position in a folder. The beauty of relative paths is that they operate as they should on any desktop; absolute paths won’t work outside of your own desktop.

Step Two: Place All Files and Documents in a Single Folder

Let’s place all linked Articulate files and documents in a single folder, which you then hide in the delivery folder. We’ll take the example of Jhpiego’s MCSP Faculty Development Program, the most recent usage case. Organizationally, this course had a parent Articulate file, the Faculty Development Program, hereafter referred to as FDP. Any user that opened the FDP Articulate could access any of the module Articulates, which were in three series — the TL, AE, and CP series — thanks to relative paths.

When you open the delivery folder, you see this:



Step Three: Hide Your Work!

Notice that the folder “Modules” is a hidden folder, and wouldn’t normally show. To hide a file, right click on the file, click Properties, check the “Hidden” box, then click OK, applying the change to all folders and subfolders. If you’d like for files you’ve hidden to show again, open up the containing folder, click “View” at the top, and then check the box reading “Hidden items” in the Show/Hide category. The file “CLICK HERE TO LAUNCH COURSE” is our shortcut file with a modified relative path and opens the parent course, FDP. Let’s open up that “Modules” folder.



Here we have each of the module folders that open up separate Articulates within the parent Articulate course, FDP. Those folders (the TL, AE, CP folders) contain all the documents that each module needs as well as that module’s Articulate output. The “Output” folder you see is the Articulate output for the parent course, which our shortcut taps into. Now, how do we make that shortcut? Let’s open that “Output” folder.



Step Four: Take a Shortcut

We’ll need the shortcut to hit “Launch_Story.exe,” so we’ll right-click on that and choose “Create shortcut.” Windows will make the shortcut for you, which you can take anywhere and rename as you like. For now, let’s take that shortcut one folder up, out of the hidden folder and into the delivery folder.



So we’re back here. We’ve renamed our shortcut “CLICK HERE TO LAUNCH COURSE.” Now we need to modify that absolute path into a relative path, so the shortcut knows that no matter what computer it’s on, it needs to go from this folder, into the hidden folder Modules, and into Output to find its “Launch_Story.exe.”

Right-click your new shortcut and choose Properties to modify that path — at the outset, you’ll see this on your screen:


Step Five: It’s All Relative (Paths)

Now, let’s take that absolute path and make it relative. In the “Start in:” field, just delete everything. Then, in the “Target:” field, type in the following, with modifications based on the folder names in your relative path:

%windir%explorer.exe “.Your\Relative\Path\Launch_Story.exe”

The beginning of this should not be in quotes, the only part in quotes is your relative file path. In the case of the FDP course, this would read as follows, since we’re asking the shortcut to look in the same folder at the start for the hidden Modules folder, then telling it to go inside Output to find the Launch_Story.exe for FDP.

%windir%explorer.exe “.Modules\Output\Launch_Story.exe”

Once you click OK, the icon on the shortcut will change to a folder with a small blue square overlaid on it. If you click Properties again to check out that slick relative path, it should look like this:



You’re done! Now any user will just have to double-click on your newly modified shortcut to launch the course!

If you have any questions or comments (or suggestions for things we may not have thought of!), please feel free to contact me and the TechChange team at:

Note: This post was written in collaboration with Erica Chin, Instructional Technologist and Medical Illustrator at Jhpiego.

The instructional design team, led by Director of Instructional Design, Shannon Fineran, is proud to announce the release of a landmark course series designed for the Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) at Jhpiego in partnership with USAID. The course is currently being piloted among health practitioners from several health care facilities in various regions of Liberia.

Unlike a stand-alone training course, the faculty development program provides a blended approach and a social program delivered over a five-month period. Faculty that participate are offered a supportive environment to build confidence, leadership, change management, and teaching skills. It includes three instructor-led training sessions and two rounds of individualized eLearning course facilitated by a moderated discussion platform for peer support. The individual eLearning course is comprised of 15 modules organized into three sections: Theoretical Learning, Clinical or Practical Learning, and Student Assessment and Program Evaluation. The program is centered around the completion of a change management project relevant to improving educational quality or teaching skills.



The team at Jhpiego’s Technical Leadership Office, led by Julia Bluestone (Health Workforce Team Lead) and supported by Erica Chin (Instructional Technologist and Medical Illustrator) and Alison Trump (Technical Advisor), worked closely with TechChange’s instructional designers to create this engaging, comprehensive course series that utilized interactive content presentations, knowledge exercises, resources, and individual module assessments in each section of the program.

The project posed a series of delivery challenges for the instructional design team. The Faculty Development Program is intended for release in regions of low internet connectivity, prohibiting technical design strategies typically used in a more traditional eLearning course. Because of this, the course was delivered via individual USB drives with the course pre-loaded onto them. Additionally, the course’s intended audience had varying levels of computer literacy and experience with technology. To minimize potential learner confusion, the team created a single main menu to provide direct access to all modules and cohesive course navigation. The main menu, itself a separate Articulate file, included a course module tutorial, as well as “scene selection” style sub-menus for module selection.



TechChange opted for a streamlined course interface design, implementing a static menu on the left side of course slides and recurrent course navigation buttons at the bottom of course slides. The Articulate publishing process was particularly complex for the instructional design team — the course needed to be offered offline, had a complex Articulate-to-Articulate branching scheme, and needed to be launched from the double click of a single button to allow for ease of use. All of these challenges resulted in new discoveries for the team.

Want to learn more about how the team reached a publishing solution? Stay tuned for another blog post on how to use relative linking for offline distribution!

For more information on the MCSP program at Jhpiego, please visit this link.