We are very excited to announce a new course we have built for our partners at Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture. In this training, users learn how to recognize and stop human trafficking, with the help of compliance officers Jose and Sofia. They also learn about other compliance principles such as fraud, abuse, and conflicts of interest.

The course takes learners through a series of scenarios that debunk myths and misconceptions about human trafficking. For example, many often associate human trafficking with women when, in fact, men and boys are also victims of human trafficking through avenues such as forced labor, debt, bondage, and child soldiering.

In one module, which focuses on harassment and discrimination, learners can categorize different behaviors as appropriate or inappropriate by clicking the red, yellow, or green lights on a traffic light. This kind of interaction is just another example of how we at TechChange are working to create new ways of presenting information in engaging and tangible ways.

The final module takes learners to Mali and Bangladesh and gives common trafficking scenarios to test their knowledge.
Does your company need an online compliance course? We would love to partner in creating an easy and interactive learning experience for your organization. Email us at info@techchange.org and let’s start a conversation.

Sign up is open for the next Social Intrapreneurship for Innovation in Health and Wellness Course happening Nov. 6th – Dec. 15th, 2017! Apply soon, spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis!

Social Intrapreneurship for Innovation in Health and Wellness is an online professional development course made possible through the Making More Health (MMH) partnership between Ashoka and Boehringer Ingelheim. The course is hosted by platform partner TechChange, for the fourth year in a row! 275 participants attended the course this past spring from 50 different countries.

Making More Health identifies, supports and scales innovative, entrepreneurial solutions to global health challenges in order to make more health happen for individuals, families and their communities.

Social intrapreneurship is when employees are empowered to adopt the innovative mindset of an entrepreneur within their organizations in order to foster a culture of productive engagement, both with their coworkers and clients. Sonja, who attended the spring course from the Netherlands, said “Looking at my project, not from the social entrepreneur view but the social intrapreneur one, is pretty exciting for future collaborations. That is why I really enjoyed this course, it gave me a lot of insight and great ideas on how to be a good partner for businesses in the near future.”

This course covers essential skills needed to effectively push new frontiers within an organization, such as pitching ideas to your team, leveraging shared value, and navigating institutional hurdles that may come up. By the end of the course, 26% of participants said they had already initiated an intrapreneurial action.

In the fall iteration of the course, the Ashoka team is continuing to bring in engaging and dynamic cross-sector guest experts, adding fresh content and insights into how to develop your intrapreneurship skills, and improving group collaboration.

Featured guest experts this past spring included Smita Satiani, a social innovation strategist at X (formerly known as Google [X]) who previously worked as Deputy Director of the White House’s Presidential Innovation Fellows Program, and Simon Manyara, an International Management Fellow at Boehringer Ingelheim, who uses social enterprise models to improve healthcare access within marginalized communities. We can’t wait to see who will be speaking in the course this fall!

To learn more about this course, contact Amy at courses@ashoka.org. Apply for the course here.

We are excited to announce the creation of a new Anti-Corruption Compliance training designed for company leadership, compliance officers, and all staff in emerging markets around the world! Created for our partners at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), this 40-minute course runs through the basics of how to design and implement a compliance program, teaching users about the many forms that bribery can take, how to avoid conflicts of interest, and how to boost accountability within a mid-sized company, among many other topics.

This course presents the perfect use case for online teaching: the audience is global, so the most streamlined and cost-effective way to disseminate this training is online. The course is also targeted at new compliance personnel in leadership roles, so the content is concise and streamlined to achieve the greatest impact.

It is also fun to take! We have all sat through boring compliance trainings, but this colorful course features a lively avatar named Isabel to guide you through course content, offers up carrots (as opposed to sticks) to reveal ways to incentivise compliance, provides red flags to assign to companies that exhibit risky behavior, and lets you click on a clipboard to reveal additional tips for a successful compliance training.


This course is a strong example of how to teach essential soft skills to business leaders in many different cultural contexts, as opposed to, say, a technical training that teaches someone how to use a particular software. While both are important, many have the perception that it is impossible to teach soft skills online, and this is one of our many courses that seeks to prove that you can not only use online learning to disseminate knowledge, we can also use it to try to change behavior.

This is also the first time TechChange has implemented a “freemium” model on our platform: users can take the course for free, but if they would like to receive a certificate of completion, they must pay a small fee. This certification can add to the legitimacy of a company trying to prove to potential investors in risky markets that they are committed to taking all possible steps to combat corruption in their industry. At the same time, it makes the content accessible to all who may need it or are interested in compliance!

red flag

We look forward to creating more trainings that teach these critical skills to promote social good! Click here to check out the course yourself! Click here to read CIPE’s blog post about the course!





After a successful fall 2016 as Communications Fellow, Arianna returned this year as a Course Facilitator in Technology for Knowledge Management. Arianna is not only an online educator, but also a rising junior-and-a-half at Davidson College. We sat down to ask her a few questions.

Q: What first interested you in working with the TechChange team in 2016?

It was a late night as a nerdy high schooler, conducting topic analysis on the Lincoln Douglas debate resolution, “Resolved: In a democracy, voting ought to be compulsory”, when I first discovered the magic of online learning. After hours of skimming dense law briefs and literature reviews with little luck, I finally encountered a MOOC on Democracy and Governance which turned my world upside down.

Ever since, I’ve been both intrigued by the way that online learning can make education on niche topics (or education from fresh perspectives) accessible and eager to find ways to contribute to the edtech space. TechChange was the perfect fit.

Q: What’s it like engaging the TechChange community on a daily basis?

I couldn’t imagine a more amazing experience if you asked me to. I’ve learned so much from the participants’ discussions, from the questions folks ask, from the network of guest experts TechChange brings into their courses. I have always felt most comfortable in discussion-based, three-way learning models, and every day in the TechChange community I come home chewing on something new.

Q: In January 2017, you wrote a blog post on A People’s Education on the World Wide Web. How has your background in educational development in social movements influenced your work?

Aside from the wisdom from my big, bizarre family, grassroots organizers have taught me everything I know. I’ve learned that it’s always appropriate to take a second, stop, and ask yourself, “who am I doing this for?”. If you can’t easily explain to yourself how what you’re doing tangibly helps the people you’re supposedly serving, it’s probably time to change course. You’d be surprised how often that simple check in makes a difference.

Q: What would your TED talk be about?

Without question, group dynamics. I am invested in the processes of rapport, empathy, and community building, and the ways this study can help us make the spaces that we host more accessible and interactive for all types of people. The talk would probably draw heavily on the discipline of Knowledge Management, specifically how KM makes explicit the informal practices of networking and learning that can hinder transparency in organizations. Naming where key information is siloed is one of the first steps to creating a unified team.

Q: What’s next for you after this summer at TechChange?

Finishing my degree. I started working at TechChange during a gap year from college. Needless to say, I’m a big believer in gap years, gap semesters, gap however-long-you-need. In my experience, the four year higher education model assumes a dichotomy between life experience and courses. A lifelong, experiential learner recognizes the fallacy and finds the time for courses whenever it fits best in their journey.

It’s 2017. We know webinar tools aren’t just for online learning. They can be used for internal trainings, conferences, workshops, you name it. More and more people around the world are finding creative ways to collaborate using webinar technology.

We also know you want to hear more about which web conferencing tools are best, given that this is still our top-performing blog post of all time. So we at TechChange wanted to give you a review of the webinar tools we think are the best in the game in 2017, and give you the pros and cons so you can evaluate which ones fit your needs the best.

At TechChange, our primary webinar tool of choice is YouTube Live, which we switched to almost exactly 4 years ago when it was called Google Hangouts on Air. YouTube Live is a free service which provides a consistent level of quality and is ubiquitous enough for most of the guest experts in our courses to be able to access with ease.

However, many of our clients have been switching over to Zoom, a company that began in 2011 but has since grown a major following.

The reason is because there are a number of features Zoom offers that YouTube Live does not. For one thing, because they are a paid service, they offer customer support, which can be very helpful when you don’t have in-house tech support and are trying to host sessions but are experiencing technical difficulties.

They also have a number of additional features they have build out because their customer base is so broad, and they do a good job maintaining them. Google, because it offers YouTube Live for free, can sometimes stop maintaining certain features, such as the Cameraman app, which allows webinar hosts to have more control over which video feeds the audience can see, with no notice to clients.

For example, Zoom allows presenters to draw on the screen, enable cloud recording, and offers numerous integrations with services like Slack, HipChat, Zapier, Kaltura, and more. Because everything is built upon APIs, you can also access every aspect of the Zoom experience from outside of Zoom, such as how many people joined, etc.

Zoom also allows participants to call in by phone, which can be very useful when hosting sessions with participants from low-bandwidth countries with unreliable infrastructure. There is an option to allow the person calling in to the session pay for the call or to allow the host to pay for the call. They can also host more participants in a single webinar than YouTube Live can, with a maximum of 200 participants when using their highest level Enterprise plan.

But there are also a couple of downsides to Zoom: the first is that it requires all participants to download the Zoom application. This can sometimes be tricky to coordinate, especially on a tight deadline. Additionally, you can only embed Zoom events on a website if you are using the YouTube or Facebook Live integration, which cost an extra $50 a month on top of the usual subscription fee. YouTube Live will also auto-record and auto-archive your events, whereas in Zoom, you need to enable recording, which can be a pro or a con, depending on your use case.

At the end of the day, TechChange courses will be sticking with YouTube Live, but we offer support to clients who want to pay to take advantage of Zoom’s advanced features. If you want a quick overview of Zoom and YouTube Live’s features compared to other webinar tools, please see the chart below!


TechChange recently hosted 17 leaders from the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program, which hosted visitors ranging from Morocco to Zambia to Haiti as part of their program, “Information Technology and Social Media: Power to the People.” The International Visitor Leadership Program is a professional exchange program that hosts foreign leaders for short-term visits to cultivate relationships with their American counterparts. For all of the participants, this was their first visit to the United States.

Isabel Knight and Austin Spivey, both members of the instructional design team, explained the mission of TechChange and showcased some courses they have been working on recently. Austin was excited to get an opportunity to use her French and Arabic skills, as the majority of the leaders were French speakers and some were from Arabic speaking countries.  

The session touched on topics like the challenges of connectivity, as well as ways to make courses more engaging, such as gamification. Many leaders shared the concern that even slow internet is expensive in many developing countries, making distance learning tedious and costly.

The issue of English proficiency was also raised, given that a good understanding of English is necessary for success in many online courses. The TechChange team walked away with a clearer picture of the challenge of accessibility in online learning and a renewed commitment to making its courses more accessible for all.

If you would like to see the slides from their presentation, you can do so here:



Nick Martin, the founder and CEO of TechChange and Swarthmore alumnus recently had the exciting opportunity to MC the 2017 SwatTank competition at Swarthmore College! SwatTank is a business competition much like the popular show Shark Tank in which groups of students compete for startup funding from a group of seasoned business leaders as judges. Nick was in charge of keeping the energy of the room up, taking breaks to talk to the person next to you about the presentations, engaging in counting improv games, and asking the contestants about the most difficult parts of their design process while the judges left the room to deliberate.

This year, there were four groups competing for the $3,000 First Place prize: New Dae Farms, Collab, Switchboard, and Zing. Each group of 2-3 students had to pitch their idea in 4 minutes or less, take questions from the judges and the audience about their idea, create a business plan, and provide an informational poster. Each group is assigned an alumni mentor who works in the field each new business is trying to break into, to fill knowledge gaps and provide insight. Both this year and last year, Nick mentored a team.


The winner of SwatTank, with a high-impact proposal and an impressive amount of preparation, was Switchboard. Switchboard is a project which co-founders Michael Piazza and Eric Wang have been working on for two years, though the project has gone through multiple iterations. The app was originally a text messaging service, where users could text the Switchboard number and they would be paired with another anonymous user using a series of ‘tags’ to enter a ‘room.’ For example, if you were interested in finding somebody else in your linguistics class to help you out with your homework, you could add #ling001 to the end of your text message to Switchboard.

Their next iteration of Switchboard was a mobile app. Surprisingly, this tactic was not as successful for them because as it turns out, the average smartphone owner downloads 0 apps a month on average, and they had trouble getting users to download their app. For comparison, users sent 6,000 messages in the iOS app over the course of 2 months compared to 17,000 messages sent in one week during the first iteration when the platform was SMS-based. So in this round, they returned to the texting model and over the 6 days since their most recent launch, they have had 65 users who have sent over 1,600 messages.

The judges also asked about a potential business model: how were they going to make Switchboard profitable? They decided to go with a freemium model, in which the vast majority of users were able to use the service for free, whereas members who paid $5 would get access to exclusive features and content. Ultimately, they said they were not concerned with making this a super profitable business; their strategy was to keep the service as inexpensive as possible until they could get a larger company to buy them up.

Currently, their product is only available to current Swarthmore students, where graduating seniors would need to get kicked off the platform as soon as the Swarthmore emails that they used to register for Switchboard expired. Down the road, they plan to allow Swarthmore alumni to sign up for an account but those kinds of add-ons are still far in the future.

The second place winner, New Dae Farms, had one of the more zany ideas of the bunch: cricket farming. They proposed using shipping crates to grow and harvest over 3.5 million crickets on Swarthmore and Haverford college campuses, selling them to local restaurants and using them in the dining halls. Though there are other cricket farms, their value proposition was to use these crickets for R&D, since it is difficult for most farms to do controlled experiments, whereas college campuses typically have well-resourced biology labs suited for controlled testing.

The third place winner, Collab, came up with an idea to try to bring more women with children into the workforce: partner with coworking spaces like WeWork to provide daycare services at all of the WeWork locations. Modelled after spaces like CoHatchery in NYC, some of the main challenges were finding competent childcare professionals to keep up with the demand for childcare, as well as coordinating with pre-existing coworking organizations.

In fourth place came Zing, an all-freshman team with the idea to bring solar-powered cell phone charging stations to campuses.They chose to lease these charging stations to colleges to mitigate the upfront cost of the charging stations, with a lease-to-own plan for colleges who chose to buy the charging stations in the future.

swat tank students

SwatTank has been part of a larger effort at Swarthmore to promote opportunities for student entrepreneurship. Hosted by the Center for Innovation and Leadership, there have been more efforts to go on trips to Silicon Valley, as well as business and entreprenurial workshops called Innovation Incubators.

Just last year, Swarthmore Visiting Professor Denise Crossan began offering a new social entrepreneurship class through the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility called Social Entrepreneurship in Principle and Practice. Not every student who participated in this year’s SwatTank took the class, but many who did felt as if the class gave them a leg up in thinking entrepreneurially.

TechChange looks forward to supporting Swarthmore’s rising entrepreneurs in the future and helping merge the ideas of the liberal arts and social entrepreneurship by thinking intentionally about how to innovate in new markets and solve problems creatively. Understanding how to merge passion and profit from a liberal arts perspective is only going to become more and more important in our increasingly technological world where new challenges crop up every day.

To read more about Switchboard, you can do so here. You can also read more about SwatTank here.

Photos courtesy of Laurence Kesterson.

We are proud to announce that TechChange has joined the composting movement! Starting in August, we will be dropping off our compostable waste at DC’s Common Good City Farm each week. At Techchange, we strive to embody green habits.

Take a look at a few benefits of composting below!

  1. Composting can divert waste sent to landfills and help ameliorate climate change. Every day, the average American produces 4.4 pounds of MSW (Municipal Solid Waste), a quarter of which could be composted, according to the World Bank. Each year the US produces 133 billion pounds of food waste, much of which is produced by supermarkets throwing away food, but some of which is also due to household waste. All of this food waste releases harmful gases in landfills like methane, which contributes to climate change. Last September, the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture announced its first-ever food waste reduction goal, calling for a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030. If we are to reach that goal, everyone is going to have to get on board with composting.
  2. Composting improves local soil quality. Recapturing the nutrients from compost reduces the need for artificial fertilizers, which in turn helps fish and other water creatures. How? Artificial fertilizers used on farms and in gardens often runoff into streams and rivers when it rains, adding an excess of nitrogen (a primary component in artificial fertilizer) to the water. This is called nitrogen eutrophication. When there is an excess of nitrogen, this promotes algae growth, and too much algae can make the water too cloudy for sun to reach plants growing on the bottom of lakes and estuaries, in turn killing fish that consume those plants and so on, causing a chain reaction up the food chain.
  3. Composting saves money. Trash costs money to be taken out, so less trash means more money saved. Composting is free! It could potentially even earn money as some farmers and landscapers may be willing to buy it, given that it produces such high-quality soil structure. So not only is it good for the planet, it is good for the pocketbook.

To learn more about the benefits of composting, you can read this fact sheet put together by the US Composting Council.


Last week, the mobile data collection service Magpi released its latest addition to the platform: data visualizations. We sat down with the founder and CEO, Dr. Joel Selanikio, to talk about the new feature and what Magpi has in store for the future.

Magpi  prides itself in taking the programming out of data collection tasks. As a medical doctor concerned with global health, Selanikio is always looking for ways to add more user-friendly features. He would ask himself, “Wow, we keep taking these things that require programming and taking out all the programming. What else is there we can do?”

The obvious answer was to add an intuitive data visualization layer to Magpi, so that users could easily access, understand, and communicate the data they were collecting.

“Before, we thought that if users wanted to visualize the data, we can just let them export the data and enter it into Microsoft Excel. What we didn’t realize was how time consuming a process this can be for our users, so our new release will allow users to generate beautiful reports instantly,” said Selanikio.

For the past year, the programmers at Magpi have been working hard to make user-modifiable data visualizations which can be easily embedded and shared. Some sample outputs from the new data visualization system are shown below –  these graphs can be automatically generated whenever a user creates a report from their data.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 3.05.51 PM

“I am super excited to show this to people,” said Selanikio. Users familiar with HTML can also further customize the visualizations, and magpi will be adding more data visualization features based on user feedback.

“We’re making it so that if you’re using Google Sheets, you can add triggers so you can enter data in a Google Sheet and it will automatically update your Magpi report.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 3.05.36 PM


In the future, Magpi is hoping to add features such as video, the ability to read barcodes, and more! Stay tuned for more exciting updates to come!

Next Tuesday, July 26, from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM EDT, Magpi will be hosting a free webinar on how to use the new reports feature: click here to register.