As 2021 comes to a close, the TechChange team gathered online to celebrate our busiest year yet. So busy, in fact, that we had to break our annual “State of TechChange” into multiple parts. Part one will mention general staff updates, hybrid and virtual events, and community engagement events.

General Updates

Played our Virtual Board Game at GDHF2021! While we weren’t the organizing partner for GDHF this year, we did manage to play our board game with our partners this month at GHDF2021, where we moved the entire delivery online.

Launched our new Virtual Events overview video! To celebrate the launch of our virtual events department in 2021, we created a new overview video to share more about our approach, key features, and partner highlights.

Welcomed new team members! One advantage of being a remote-first organization is that talent is no longer restricted to the DC area. 

  • Lilly SnellProject Assistant, Education
  • Kayla Burch Program Coordinator, Events
  • Sheerin Vesin – Vice President of Business Development
  • Marion Comi-Morog Program Coordinator, Events
  • Benjamin Seebaugh – Program Manager, Events
  • Maggie MilandAccount Manager, Education
  • Alexander Paone – Program Manager, Public Health
  • Hana Geadah – Project Assistant, Public Health
  • Samantha Remeika – Vice President of Partner Success
  • Kristy Britt – Chief Financial Officer
  • Momoka KeichoSummer Fellow / Contractor
  • Amanda Pettenati – Full Stack Engineer
The TechChange Team during the State of TechChange 2021

Celebrated the 10-year anniversary of our first hybrid event. While the virtual events team is brand new as a department, this September marked a full decade since we first supported a hybrid-first event. We’ve shared initial reflections, but hoping to continue to contribute to the conversation on improving the virtual events experience. 

Coordinated a hybrid event in Kigali. While we had hoped to have a team onsite for the Africa Plant Breeders Association Conference this year, Covid restrictions prevented travel for core team members. Fortunately, we were able to partner with Rwanda-based partners and hybrid event experts Cube (who we had previously worked with on AGRF 2020) to deliver a successful coordinated summit experience.

Returning Events from 2021

RightsCon 2021

Every conference is an opportunity to better serve a global community unable to convene due to Covid. This year we worked with a number of 2020 partners to reflect on lessons learned, participant data insights, and speaker feedback to improve the event experiences. These included:

  • Global Digital Development Forum – Building on the success of GDDF 2020 with 2,600 participants, GDDF 2021 focused on multi-language delivery, virtual worlds, and networking opportunities. Co-organized by USAID, DIAL, Chemonics, Save the Children, IntraHealth, IREX, and TechChange. (May 5, 2021)
  • SID-Washington 2021 Annual Conference – The Society for International Development – Washington Chapter is a membership-driven knowledge organization bringing together people from diverse organizations, disciplines, and career stages in a neutral, independent forum. The 2021 Annual Conference gathered 1,000 international development professionals from around the world to learn, to debate ideas, and to network. (May 26-27)
  • RightsCon 2021 – Celebrating 10 years of RightsCon, we returned to a virtual format for a second year with over 10,000 human rights and technology experts including fireside chats, interactive community sessions, 24-hour programming, and more. 2021 Outcomes Report for more details. Promo video. (June 7-11)
  • AGRF 2021 Summit– The largest agricultural and food systems virtual event in Africa returned for a second year, with over 7,000 participants – including five African presidents. Promo video. (September 7-10)
  • WomenLift Health – The fifth annual Women Leaders in Global Health (WLGH) Conference and the second virtually on the TechChange platform. This once again included regional focuses by day, as well as shifting time slots to accommodate global time zones for participants and speakers. Promo video. (November 15-16)

New Online Events in 2021!

Delivering the UN Common Agenda: Action to Achieve Equality and Inclusion

This was our biggest year yet for new partners trying out the TechChange model.

  • 2021 Global Health Practitioner Conference – GHPC is CORE Group’s annual conference. Implementers, academics, governments, donors, UN, private sector, and other community health advocates convene in this multi-day, content rich meeting that features knowledge sharing and skills building sessions, recent evidence on cross-sectoral technical areas, dialogues on community health, and professional networking. (January 27-28)
  • Institutionalizing Community Health Conference (ICHC 2021) – In collaboration with USAID, UNICEF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and The Rockefeller Foundation, ICHC 2021 aimed to renew global commitments to a decade of accelerating primary health care (April 19-22)
  • Global Health Science and Practice Technical Exchange (GHTechX) –  Curated through a partnership between USAID, the George Washington University, and the Global Health: Science and Practice Journal. (April 21-24)
  • Lives In The Balance – Coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and CORE Group, the third summit, TechChange delivered this online conference with speakers including Neneh Cherry, Helen Clark, and Awa Marie Coll-Seck. (May 17-18)
  • 2021 DRG Conference  –  Coordinated with EnCompass, the Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance conference includes breakout sessions designed, led, and attended by USAID staff in the field Missions and Washington D.C, and included USAID partners. The final day consists of regionally-based meetings co-led with DRG staff in USAID’s Regional Bureaus. (June 21 – July 1)
  • Africa Transformation Forum 2021 –  More than 600 people in 47 countries gathered to discuss the ways that African countries—and all development stakeholders—can better collaborate to remove barriers to progress and address national priorities through regional solutions.  Read the report (July 15)
  • Maternal Mental Health Technical Consultation – Hosted by USAID’s MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership, in collaboration with World Health Organization and United Nations Population Fund, this Jhpiego-led virtual conference brought together members of the maternal, newborn, child health, nutrition, and mental health communities to collaborate and inform the path forward for MMH to ensure that pregnant and postpartum women receive the respectful and nurturing care they need and deserve. (September 7-9)
  • USAID’s First Annual Hispanic Serving Institution/Latinx Conference and Career Expo – A three-day event with workshops designed for students, recent graduates, mid-level and transitioning career professionals, job seekers, higher education faculty and staff, and professional and affinity organizations. (October 5-7)
  • USAID-HBCU International Development Conference – Co-sponsored by the Harry T. Moore chapter of Black’s in Government, this year’s theme is “Increasing Diversity in International Development” and will include announcements of job opportunities and scholarships for conference participants, as well as networking. (September 15-16)
  • Delivering the UN Common Agenda: Action to Achieve Equality and Inclusion – This event launched a flagship report led by the Pathfinder’s Grand Challenge on Inequality and Exclusion (September 23)
  • YTH Live Global 2021 – presented by ETR, YTH Live helps executive directors, funders, developers, public health professionals, and students of all ages learn about the latest trends in health, innovation, and technology. (October 4-6)
  • Emerging Technologies in Peacebuilding & Prevention –  Organized with NYU’s Center on International Cooperation (CIC), this virtual workshop created a space for sharing successes and failures in the applications of emerging technologies in peacebuilding. (December 1-2)

Community Engagement

Greater Giving Summit 2021

Not all global events are open to the public — some are about building up skills and networks within a community. These are a few of the events that we were proud to support.

  • Land Innovation Fund Launch Event – Supporting Chemonics and USAID in a two-hour launch event with simultaneous interpretation in Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish (January 26)
  • Greater Giving Summit – the Giving By All team hosted a four-part virtual event which took place monthly from February to May, bringing together over 200 leaders from around the world to improve charitable giving by everyday donors. Archive. (February 23 – May 18)
  • Combat Malaria in Africa: Lessons and Opportunities – Organized by GBCHealth and CAMA, this event brought together 250 partners including representatives from private sector, government, civil society, academia, and more to share lessons learned and launch the CAMA partners’ “End Malaria Project.” (April 22) 
  • Self-Care Learning and Discovery Series – Hosted by White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) on behalf of the Self-Care Trailblazer Group (SCTG), the series presented new knowledge, elevate self-care solutions, forge connections across issues and geographies. (June 29 – August 26)
  • The Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit 2021 – The signature, culminating event of the Fellowship that provides a unique opportunity for Fellows to connect and learn from current Fellows, Fellowship Alumni, and prestigious guests from U.S. institutions with an interest in Africa. (August 3-4)
  • CALA Leadership Forum – The Centre for African Leaders in Africa is an initiative of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and kicked off a 16-month Advanced Leadership Programme, launched in collaboration with implementing partners including the African Management Institute (AMI) and USAID’s Policy LINK (August 16-18)
  • AmeriCorps State and National Symposium 2021 – The annual grantee Symposium is a critical element in the AmeriCorps monitoring and oversight plan. During this internal event, AmeriCorps Agency staff will provide training on essential program functions as well as updates regarding AmeriCorps policies, administration, and financial grants management requirements for the upcoming funding cycle. (September 20-23)
  • 2021 Global Health Leaders’ Meeting – Funded by USAID, GHLM is a 5-day summit detailing leadership and management topics, with high-level discussions, policy updates, and interactive workshops specifically designed for those working at USAID in Global Health. (September 13-17)
  • USAID/OHA’s 3rd Annual Local Partner Meeting – Hosted by USAID’s Office of HIV/AIDS with support from the Accelerating Support to Advanced Local Partners (ASAP) program. (November 1-5)

September 2021 marks the 10-year anniversary of our first hybrid event. It’s also the 18-month anniversary of the last time TechChange was able to convene our community in person to learn from one another.

Until 2020, the stodgy in-person event industry has been protected by a scarcity of solutions (only so many conference centers) and a captive audience (you can’t easily attend another event). Online events were often intentionally neglected to drive attendees towards more lucrative, and superior, in-person experiences.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed all that. Not only were in-person events impossible, but expectations for online convening increased drastically as the months went on. By March 2020, it was no longer enough to release a pre-recorded video or hold a massive webinar; participants were expecting online events to recreate in-person participation. By May 2020, participants began demanding organic networking opportunities to unlock the real value of event attendance: driving business and career growth.

This created new demands on the TechChange team, as partners in our “edtech as a service” model looked for solutions. While this post draws from the Global Digital Health Forum, lessons shared could just as easily apply to the unique challenges of RightsCon, Global Digital Development Forum, UNESCO Global Education Monitoring, Africa Green Revolution Forum, Our Future Our Voices, Society for International Development-Washington, Women Leaders in Global Health, Global Health Practitioner Conference, and so many others.

Screenshot from GDHF 2020 Plenary

1. Production Value Matters for Plenaries

In competing for attention, there is no substitute for production value and seamless event execution. But it doesn’t just stop there. At a minimum, be prepared to figure out multiple audio streams for interpretation, live captioning, lower thirds, integrated videos, ASL/ISL, and transitions. But it’s worth it. The plenary events are consistently the highest attended across all events on the TechChange platform over the course of the last two years — and are consistently the most viewed archives of any event.

Screenshot of RightsCon Outcomes Report 2021

2. But Networking Is Still Best When Informal and Organic

Networking doesn’t require a fancy 3D world with location-based audio to recreate the hallway experience of a conference. Although, as we’ve seen for the Greater Giving Summit 2021 and Global Digital Development Forum (pictured in featured image), they can be highly effective and popular. For example, the integrated Social Hour sessions for RightsCon 2021 leveraged small-group tables that enabled informal networking to recreate the hallway experience — and according to the RightsCon Outcomes Report 2021 81% of surveyed participants who attended a Social Hour session rated them as Excellent or Good.

Banner for Pathfinders event

3. Partners are Seizing Opportunities for Accessibility and Inclusivity
The loss of a requirement to travel has opened up new opportunities for addressing accessibility and inclusivity in conference organizing — for both participation and convening. Most recently, this has included supporting the USAID-HBCU International Development Conference, the Action to Achieve Equality and Inclusion, and more. The shift to online convening has prompted many online conference partners to think through not just who is in the room, but also who is holding the mic and what is being discussed.

Alyssa recently joined the TechChange team as an Account Manager, where she supports public health education programs.

Q: So, tell us more about yourself. How did you end up working in education?
I never intended on working in education, but education has always had a way of finding me. While in college, I worked as a peer mentor for first-year students. In this role, I assisted the professor in teaching the course and leading class activities. After working for several years in health care once I graduated, I decided to move to South America for about a year. During that time, I taught English and culture for a semester in Argentina. During both of these experiences, I realized that I had a skill for meeting learners where they are in their process.

Q: How did you first hear about TechChange?
Graduating into a pandemic was less than ideal, since I had studied humanitarian health with the hopes of working internationally. When I realized that would not be an option, I set my sights on the DC area, which is when I found TechChange. They had recently released COVID-19 courses, and that caught my attention because I had just finished working on the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 incident command response. The courses were well-designed and interactive, and I knew I wanted to be part of making them even better.

Q: What are some of your favorite parts of working at TechChange so far?
The team I work with every day has been incredible. With limited experience in education and no experience in tech, I was worried about taking a position with TechChange. But I hit the ground running on big projects with crazy timelines, and I always felt fully supported by my team members. I love being part of a company that, to its very core, works to create social change and bring more equity to professional development.

Q: What excites you about this role?
I have been given the space to be innovative and use my past experiences to help shape our work, which keeps me motivated to produce engaging courses for our learners. For me, the most exciting part of this role is knowing that our final product will end up in the hands of someone who is trying to gain more knowledge, grow themselves professionally, and bring those skills to their community. I like the idea that all of the hard work is worth it if it makes even one person’s life better.

Q: Anything you look forward to working on or learning at TechChange in the next year?
I am looking forward to collaborating on more projects that involve the crossroads of public health and online learning. We are living in such a pivotal time in the field of public health when everything is evolving rapidly. People are realizing that the way program implementation or professional training was done in the past may not be sustainable in the future. This gives us an opportunity to be creative and find new ways to reach people across the globe. It will be a learning process for everyone, but TechChange has been doing just that for many years now, and I am excited to be part of it.

Q: Lastly, what’s something that not a lot of people know about you?
I hate bicycles because one time I got stranded in the Atacama desert at night while on a biking trip to Valle de la Luna to watch the sunset (so worth it). I am very thankful for the kind Brazilian family who picked me up on the side of the road, but the experience ruined any dreams of being one of those cool people who bikes around DC.

Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, we are spending our work and social lives on video chat. And all evidence (and experiences) show that being on video call is exhausting. So we built our own virtual world using Mozilla Hubs for the Global Digital Development Forum.

Video conferencing solutions like Zoom are designed to solve business meeting challenges, but when applied to other use cases such as informal networking, the consequence is that every social gathering can start to feel like a formal meeting — even with fun and zany backgrounds. Some great events have created “informal happy hour” sections (including a recent event by Tech4Dem, which followed a formal USAID presentation with informal breakouts and a shared activity), but there’s only so much that solutions like Zoom can be repurposed into critical professional functions at conferences — like networking.

But there are increasing numbers of options for leveraging virtual worlds to go beyond planned video meetings. And there are a range of options, from the 12.3 million participants in Travis Scott’s Fortnite concert to more modest 8-bit solutions like Online Town, where multiple conversations can happen in parallel — just as they would when sharing a space in real life.

One promising option for virtual conferences is Mozilla Hubs, a “VR chatroom designed for every headset and browser, but it is also an open source project that explores how communication in mixed reality can come to life.” Most interestingly, we were able to not only use a world that was created previously, but also able to build a custom format specific for this global event.

So we built a shared space to experience the event, and network. It was intended to be a proof of concept (Register for GDDF to find the Link), but ended up recreating experiences that I had been craving for months.

  1. Overhearing Other Conversations. Since you are speaking in a virtual world, groups have to gather near one another to hear a conversation. That means at any given moment you can hear snippets of fascinating conversations, which you are welcome to join at any point and speak up as well.
  2. Leaving Conversations. Finally, an option other than forcing yourself through an unpleasant video conversation. If you want to join a different circle, you can just walk over. No awkward transitions, just pop on over.
  3. Randomness in Contacts and Introductions. Since you can join conversations and find friends, there is a true level of randomness but also vouched-for connections in networking. If your friend is having a good chat and you pop by, they can introduce you.

In closing, this was supposed to simulate a conference environment, but really what we recreated may have been more useful — the hallway or happy hour at the conference. 

What’s next? We’d love to explore moving this to a classroom space, to try to recreate being physically present as close as we can to reality.

Hailey recently joined the TechChange team as a Program Manager, where she helps elearning partners build and deliver learning experiences on digital health.

Q: So, tell us more about yourself. How did you end up working in education?
In my last year of college, I completed a fellowship with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here, I developed the Enteric Disease Outbreak Response and Capacity Building Toolkit curriculum component for tertiary educational institutions in Sierra Leone- this prompted my journey to international education.

Q: How did you first hear about TechChange?
Shortly after returning to the States, I knew I wanted to relocate to the DC area. During my search, TechChange came to my attention. After I heard about their mission, I knew it was a place I wanted to contribute.

Q: What are some of your favorite parts of working at TechChange so far?
Starting anything new can be nerve-racking and overwhelming for anyone- especially during a pandemic, but the welcome that I received on my first day at TechChange was incredible. It felt like I had already been working there for a while. The team and I got straight to work and hit the ground running. The innovation and opportunity within the company I see will carry me a long way. It’s exciting to be a part of something that aligns so closely with your vision and goals.

Q: What excites you about this role?
Delivering equitable education platforms to increase capacity building is an essential part of public health. I am grateful to work alongside a team that emphasizes this, and can’t wait to get started on discovering new ways to improve partner relationships to achieve optimal health outcomes.

Q: Anything you look forward to working on or learning at TechChange in the next year?
I can’t wait to begin contributing to the intersection of public health, education, and eLearning. I value collaboration and am eager to get my hands dirty with all the projects.

Q: Lastly, what’s something that not a lot of people know about you?
After graduating and completing a CDC fellowship, I purchased a ticket to Australia and went on an 8-week spontaneous solo backpacking trip!

If you want to change global behavior patterns, make the sustainable alternative better.

For the first time, the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Risk Report claims that the top five risks facing the world are all related to climate change. And while Davos 2020 has gone to great lengths to calculate and offset all emissions to the Annual Meeting (see graphic, link) for those arriving by private jet (or boat), most of us in the international development are still flying commercial (economy class, American carrier) to participate in or deliver trainings that are essential for the execution of our jobs. But each time any of us boards a plane in service of vulnerable communities, we have to reckon that our method for doing so is putting those same communities at risk through contributing to climate change.

The Swedes have a word for it: Flygskam. Coined in 2016 and popularized recently by teenage activist Greta Thunberg, this Swedish noun (literally, ‘flight shame’) describes the feeling of climate guilt associated with airline travel. But for many of us, not travelling simply isn’t an option: There are global projects to launch, partners to meet, pressing health matters to address, standing conferences to grow our network, and so on. For many of us, guilt just isn’t enough of a motivator for a problem that can’t be solved individually.

But the recent novel coronavirus outbreak is a once-in-a-sector opportunity to upend these models, not just to cancel events that contribute to climate change, but to entirely rethink their delivery for scale, inclusion, and impact. Otherwise, the risk is that when the crisis is over, old models will take hold, and we will all be back to where we started.

But key to success will not just be making us feel bad about going to conferences: It will be about making us feel good about what we are doing instead. When Beyond Burger wanted to shift Americans from beef to plant-based patties — and in the process take the equivalent of 12 million cars off the road for an entire year — they focused on customer experience of eating meat and tried to recreate that through sustainable means.

But what are the customer experiences of conferences?

When presenting at the ICT4D conference in Kampala last year (there’s the Flygskam, again), we tried to unpack what it is that online experiences serve, and what purpose in-person workshops can fulfill. The chief takeaway from looking at current offerings is that technology is explored for scaling across geography, while workshops are useful for intensity of peer-to-peer learning.

But this year, before we all meet again in Abuja on April 21,it might be worth exploring what it would like if we were able to free the conference experience from geography?What could it mean for recreating that sector-specific learning experiences, conference-wide networking, small-group relationship building, one-on-one mentoring…if it wasn’t restricted to those who could afford the resources and time to be there?

In looking at our data from a recent course in TC101: How to Teach Online, we mapped out exchange between learner cities over a four-week period in the forums versus real attendee city data for ICT4D over the same time period.

Versus a single round trip to Kampala:

Of course, an online learning exchange in a forum or chat isn’t the same as an in-person conference experience.

But what are the components of that experience that could be recreated online?

When it comes to event planning in the face of a pandemic, the technology is the easy part. Shifting the training model will be harder, and international development is perfectly positioned to lead.

After returning from a successful week-long workshop in Kampala with Last Mile Health (featured image) to plan for an an upcoming online course, I wondered how many similar workshops were suddenly adapting to the growing concerns around the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. That’s because the growing list of cancelled world events ranges from GSMA Mobile World Congress to Facebook’s F8 2020, and the regular international convening opportunities at the intersection of technology and development are threatening to be next.

But crisis can create opportunities for innovation. In education, 200 million students return to school online in China, and even slow-moving US universities are suddenly moving face-to-face courses online in weeks, rather than years. That’s because in the seven years that have passed between Coursera’s “MOOC Mess” and our most recent TechChange course on “How to Teach Online,” technology has evolved far beyond the “watch-a-video, take-a-quiz” method of online training.

And as the sage on the stage lecture-based MOOC gives way to the “guide by your side” small-group workshop, organizers are wondering if they can move more than lectures onto online learning solutions. Remote conferencing providers such as Zoom are expected to benefit, while like Andreessen Horowitz helped raise $4.3 million in seed funding for “Run The World”, whose founder declares: “The ideal event to me isn’t one with 2 million people. I’d rather we hosted 2 million events with 50 people.”

But the technology may be the easy part.

Facebook Workshop

Facebook Workshop on Gender Data 101

That’s because most in-person workshops are far more complex than the Eventbrite-style offerings that are emerging and being funded. What we need is to recreate what participants gain from attending active workshops of their peers, not just from listening to a lecture with 10,000 other attendees. And that means going far beyond a platform-based solution, but also thinking through edtech as a service, as well as empowering local facilitators to design and facilitate active learning experiences.

That’s why TechChange is changing our model as well. This year, we are working with partners such as Facebook (pictured above) to think through active, blended online workshops on topics such as Gender Data. And why we are supporting partners such as DIAL (pictured below) in understanding and engaging learners for blended and online workshops on topics including the Principles of Digital Development.

In this way, we are hoping to approach online learning not as a series of discrete problems — platform, content, service, support — but as a process driven by educators, local facilitators, and partners community engagement over a number of years. And we’re hoping that in freeing participants and educators from the tyranny of distance, that we’ll enable these conversations to take place more often, more effectively, and more globally than ever before.

The digital transformation of online workshops is coming. And the intersection of technology and development — in delivering these trainings at low cost, in low-bandwidth, and in partnership with local facilitators — is perfectly positioned to lead the way.

DIAL Ideation Workshop

DIAL Ideation Workshop

Ariel recently joined the TechChange team as a Program Manager, where she helps elearning partners build and deliver learning experiences on digital health.


Q: So, tell us more about yourself. How did you end up working in education?
I was born into the ‘role’ of unofficial mentor and teacher as an older sister to two of the best sisters in the world, but it wasn’t until college that I taught in a classroom for the first time, leading a sub-section for a course on violence against women. After I graduated with a degree in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Public Health, I got a job in the international development space in Washington, DC. I developed and co-facilitated many trainings through my work at Social Impact, which propelled me to explore further how trainings can be more effective at instigating sustainable behavior change. I decided to go back for my masters in public health at Johns Hopkins where I focused on social and behavioral interventions, zeroing in on the challenges of creating health behavior change and how trainings fit into the puzzle. In school and out, I have found that most of my jobs usually require me to support some level of capacity building, so understanding how to transmit and translate information to action is something I am actively working to improve.

Q: How did you first hear about TechChange?
I was working with an organization called Clear Outcomes on a needs assessment for DIAL on the Principles for Digital Development. We presented our findings to both DIAL and TechChange, so that TechChange could use our findings to develop and execute a pilot training on the Principles for Digital Development. This was the first I had heard of an organization focused specifically on how to create and execute participatory, blended-learning courses in the social sector for a variety of clients, with a thought towards building supportive communities around these trainings.

Q: What are some of your favorite parts of working at TechChange so far?
I have been solely focused on content development in a space that I am very excited about: digital health. It’s rewarding to be able to apply my experiences in public health in and out of the classroom to developing course material that is useful and beautiful. But mostly, I have very much enjoyed getting to know the team here, especially over lunch and dessert(s).

Q: What excites you about this role?
I am most excited about not only using my own background and experiences in public health to develop this training, but also learning from TechChange’s subject matter expert on even more about the ins and outs of digital health. I can’t wait to see it piloted in Sierra Leone.

Q: Anything you look forward to working on or learning at TechChange in the next year?
I’m looking forward to learning more about instructional design and applying a human-centered design approach to developing trainings in the health space and beyond.

Q: Lastly, what’s something that not a lot of people know about you?
I have won every hula hooping contest I have ever entered.

TechChange recently supported one of the first evaluations of HPV online education, as conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is now available online. The evaluation concludes that:

“[This] online format offers a highly adaptable and acceptable educational tool that promotes interpersonal communication with parents and preteens and practice-related changes such as reminder messages known to improve vaccine uptake.”

The human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States, and health care provider recommendation is a key determinant of HPV vaccination. This online training program for providers addressed vaccine guidelines, hesitancy to strongly recommend the vaccine, and reluctance to discuss HPV infection as a sexually transmitted infection. 

Catalog Page from Platform

Screenshot from Catalog Page of UNC Platform

This evaluation took place over three annual waves between 2015-2017, for a total of 113 providers from 25 practices who enrolled in an asynchronous online course to promote preteen HPV vaccination. The course was approved for 12 CME and CNE credits and was live for 4 weeks and available on demand for three additional months. Of the 61% of providers who completed an evaluation, almost all (96%) agreed the course will improve their practice. 

For those interested in reading more about this study, please check out the full report: Toward Optimal Communication About HPV Vaccination for Preteens and Their Parents: Evaluation of an Online Training for Pediatric and Family Medicine Health Care Providers by Cates JR1, Diehl SJ, Fuemmeler BF, North SW, Chung RJ, Hill JF, Coyne-Beasley T (Available on NCBI).

For those interested in learning more about the TechChange platform, please do reach out to us at or check out our online courses. We’ll close with a quote from Dr. Joan Cates, our partner at UNC and one of the authors of the study:

“When I was first introduced to TechChange on another online course, I couldn’t believe it. It was fun and engaging and I actually looked forward to doing the course. Our evaluation results show this platform helps with fun and engagement! And ultimately results.”


Allison recently joined the TechChange team as a Senior Instructional Designer, where she creates boutique blended and eLearning experiences. A former classroom educator, Allison comes to TechChange from George Washington University where she earned a Masters in Education.

Q: So, tell us more about yourself. How did you end up working in education? 

After graduating, I began coaching volleyball at my old high school while waiting to hear back from a few job opportunities. I loved it so much, I turned down the job and enrolled in a Master’s of Ed program with GW.

Q: How did you first hear about TechChange?

Through Austin! She is also a William & Mary alumna. I was looking to transition out of the classroom and we grabbed coffee so I could learn more about Instructional Design and fell in love. The rest, as they say, is history.

Q: What are some of your favorite parts of working at TechChange so far?

Untimed bathroom breaks. Such a luxury! I used to have to hold it for 3+ hours at a time, and if I had time between classes I had less than 5 mins to do my business. That and the windows (my classroom didn’t have any). It sounds silly, but I’ve come to not take them for granted anymore.

Q: What excites you about this role?

I’m eager to utilize my background in education in a tech sphere. I’ve become increasingly interested in the intersection of education and technology, especially as it relates to learners. So Instructional Design is a perfect fit.

Q: Anything you look forward to working on or learning at TechChange in the next year?

In my first year at TechChange, I’m excited to collaborate on the plethora of projects. From my introduction to just a few, they cover a variety of topics, so it seems I’ll continue to be a life-long learner. 

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

I’ve been playing volleyball for over a decade.