Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t, but blockchain is the most disruptive technology in decades

So, what is “the blockchain”?


At its most basic level, blockchain is a decentralized distributed ledger technology (DLT) or store of information. The key difference between blockchain and other databases is that the data on a blockchain is stored on many different computers across a network, which are called nodes. All of these nodes update when a new piece of information is added to the database. This makes it extremely difficult to change or alter such information and is especially useful for storing data like financial transaction history.

Check out this short video from Axios & JP Morgan featuring TechChange Founder & CEO Nick Martin explaining the potential of using blockchain in humanitarian efforts.



So, why is this valuable? In our last Blockchain for International Development course, Ric Shreves from Mercy Corps shared different practical use cases of blockchain (and DLTs more broadly):

  • Tamper proof record: The system, aided by the use of cryptography, creates a chronological chain of transactional data that is extremely difficult to defraud.
  • Immutable and transparent: All transactions can be public, traceable, and permanent.
  • Removal of intermediaries: A DLT can remove the need for a third party actor, allowing participants in the network to transact directly.

From a humanitarian aid and international development perspective, blockchain can democratize the entire trust process between various donors, organizations, implementers, and beneficiaries. This increased transparency and openness reduces transactional friction. Since the ledger is owned and maintained by its users there is no need for a third party actor.

“To the extent that international NGOs function as guarantors of trust – trust that the funds donated will be used for an appropriate purpose, trust that the aid has been given to the right beneficiaries, trust that the development work that was contracted for was done on time and as specified – then NGOs too are poised for disruption.”

A Revolution in Trust, Ric Shreves (Mercy Corps)  

Still not sure what “the blockchain” is? You’re not alone. In our last cohort, we asked participants to describe their experience with blockchain… here’s how they answered:

Whether you’re just learning about DLTs for a particular project or if you consider yourself a  blockchain wiz, there’s still something to learn for everyone in this ever-changing space. Our Blockchain for International Development course is a great way to build your knowledge on this disruptive technology and build your network! With 10+ guest expert sessions, 15+ hands-on activities, and 200+ online participants, there’s something for everyone to gain.

Click here to enroll today! Class starts on Monday, September 10.

Min joined the TechChange team as an Instructional Design fellow! She is a recent graduate from Swarthmore College, where she studied Economics, Sociology/Anthropology, & Educational Studies.

We sat down with Min to learn more about her background and experience. Welcome to the team!

Q: So… how’s your first week at TechChange going?

It’s been fantastic so far! I’ve gotten a crash course in Articulate Storyline 360, worked on a course about open source startups for UNICEF, had the honor of choosing the office’s ice cream flavors, and learned how to make french press coffee from the many caffeine aficionados that populate this office.

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

As a student, I focused primarily on public education policy and higher ed/admissions. I wrote my senior thesis on the institutional constraints that prevent politically progressive AP Economics teachers in public high schools from making their classrooms into sites of resistance against neoliberal policies and curricula. I was also occasionally a teacher myself, in a variety of settings — from the overcrowded, bilingual classrooms in North Philadelphia to the one-on-one conversations in my weekly Introduction to Economics clinics. I learned a lot about how people learn differently based on context, environment, and presentation, among other factors too often neglected by progressive education scholars.

Q: What originally interested you in joining TechChange?

I had heard of TechChange originally as a sophomore in college when my friend Isabel Knight told me she was going to go be an Instructional Designer in D.C. I had no idea what that meant, but it piqued my interest when she described the fun, welcoming environment at the office. As a junior, I was studying at the University of Edinburgh, taking two highly relevant courses called The Internet & Society and Technology in Society. We applied various critical technology studies theories to case studies such as how a bridge was designed to keep low-income people from visiting a certain beach, the moral implications inherent in the nuclear bomb, and the sexist roots of headphones. My biggest takeaway was that in order to achieve any social change or disruption, technologies have to be designed intentionally to do so — but it is possible, and I wanted to work with the technologies that achieve this difficult but worthy goal. As I read that semester about the technologies and organizations that TechChange works with and thought about how it sits at the intersection of education, technology, and social change, I knew I had to apply for the Instructional Design Fellowship.

Q: How does Instructional Design fit into your interests?

Creating beautiful, intuitive, and engaging courses for international development-focused organizations like UNICEF and USAID allows me to pull from all of my interests. The content is usually related to topics I studied as an economics and sociology student while the curriculum design requires me to apply what I learned as an educational studies student. The design aspect appeals to me because I care a lot about making the user experience feel as natural as possible. That the courses are all multimedia (including videos, sound design, animation, and sometimes mini-games) is the whipped cream on top because I love being able to exercise my creative side.

Q: What is one thing that you’d love to learn or do this summer?

I adore that TechChange, as a small company, doesn’t require its employees to overspecialize. I can wear multiple hats — graphic designer, curriculum developer, copywriter — all within the umbrella of Instructional Designer, but I can also branch out and work with other teams. Just last week I was able to help the Creative team with a video shoot, which was very exciting because film production is something I know I want to be able to integrate into my professional life. You can check out my photography on Instagram here!

Min helping Yohan, our Creative Director, with a video shoot.

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

When I was 11, my children’s choir was conducted by Marin Alsop for a performance and subsequent recording of Mass by Leonard Bernstein. That year, the producer of the recording won the Grammy for Producer of the Year so, in a way, I own like 0.01% of a Grammy.

We wrapped up our first Blockchain for International Development course in February and recently had a chance to sit down with Maputi Botlhole about her experience in the course!

Maputi is from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and has over 3 years of international work experience at the intersection of global health, technology and supply chain management. She worked as a Program Officer on the USAID | DELIVER Project and is also the Co-Founder of MAISHA Innovate. When coming to this course, she was most interested in the application of blockchain technology in global health. She also wanted the course to help her think creatively about how to apply blockchain technology in the township economy space (South Africa).

Q: How did you find out about the TechChange course Blockchain for International Development and what inspired you to take it?

In December 2017, I was in Port Elizabeth, South Africa celebrating the festive season with my family. I was enjoying the beautiful weather, the refreshing conversations and great food! I remember returning from a walk with my sister and checking my phone for notifications, and there it was: an email from TechChange with the subject “Check out our 2018 course catalog!”

At the time, I thought about learning something new in the upcoming year, hence the email enticed my curiosity and I proceeded to open it. The course:  Blockchain for International development, was the first listed course offering for the year 2018. I was hesitant to immediately sign-up, however, I kept the thought of enrolment at the back of my mind. We ushered in the new year, and days later I received a notification from ICT4Drinks. The notification was for the “Block Party Edition,” which  served as a good reminder to sign up for the course on “Blockchain for International development.” We are inundated with information on the cryptocurrency applications of blockchain, and this was the first time I’d come across learning about the technology within the context of international development. The potential to use the technology for social good coupled with the $50 “BlockParty” discount peaked my interest and provided an extra nudge to enroll for the TechChange course!

Q: What did you enjoy most about the course?

The course did a great job of taking students through the fundamentals and applications of blockchain technology. The participants in the course were from different corners of the world ranging from Little Rock, Arkansas to Suva, Fiji to Lima, Peru!  The course content and the manner in which it was delivered made blockchain technology accessible to myself as a South African, and accessible to participants from other geographical locations.

The diversity of the course participants was a testament to the global footprint of TechChange and added a cross-cultural flair to our discussions on blockchain technology.

At the same time, I learned about blockchain as a technology that has applications beyond cryptocurrency – yes, digital currency is important. I even set up a wallet and exchanged stellar lumens through the course, however, the blockchain demo and other visual material from the course effectively described the underlying technology of blockchain. I now know that blockchain is a decentralized, distributed and incorruptible public ledger that records any transaction of value – whether that value is in the form of digital currency, smart contracts in land titling, votes in the electoral process, or any item that can be tokenized – with no requirement for third-party validation. This expanded my understanding of the technology. In addition, the case studies and live events; which featured guest speakers, discussed blockchain topics ranging from how applications powered by blockchain are being used to create economic identities for “unbankable” farmers in remote areas; to how blockchain technology is used to provide data integrity on supply chain operations.

An interactive slide from TC116: Blockchain for International Development on various blockchain applications.

I enjoyed learning about the several application of blockchain through this course! Furthermore, the discussions on the future of blockchain helped me to think creatively about the applications of such a technology in South Africa. I even found myself seeking out events that spoke to the use of blockchain in South Africa. This was to the point where I ended up attending the 2018 Africa Energy Indaba. The “Indaba” was held in Sandton City, Johannesburg and one of the panel discussions spoke to the democratization and deployment of renewable energy through blockchain. So even though this was an online course, it coalesced in a way that encouraged me to get away from the computer screen and go out into the world to learn more about blockchain technology.

Q: Whats one thing people should know about blockchain

This is a technology that is accessible to all of us! We can dedicate time and resources to learn about blockchain through platforms such as TechChange; partner with others to use the technology to creatively solve some of the pressing global challenges. I was inspired by the case studies which documented and highlighted blockchain projects for social good!

Q: Tell us about the block party you organized, sounds like a great event!


On the evening of April 20th, 2018, I held a “BLOCKCHAIN PARTY” in a South African town called Grahamstown. This town is located in the Eastern Cape region of the country and it is predominantly “Xhosa” speaking: the Xhosa language is internationally known as the click language and it’s also spoken in the fictional country of “Wakanda” in the Black Panther movie. I was surprised to have at least 20 female high school students show up for my party. Most of the students were from an academic excellence residence known as Maqubs Academy. The high school students ranged from 15-18 years in age and even though they could’ve been pre-occupied by other activities that evening, they all were eager to learn about blockchain technology.

I had party lanyards, name tags, party whistles, beaded necklaces, refreshments and 50 balloons to liven up the atmosphere. Each balloon had an interesting fact or questions about blockchain inside that I had written on a piece of paper. I also had some South African “GQOM” house music playing in the background. The participants walked in, wrote their names on provided tags and put on the lanyards. The blockchain party started at 18:30PM SAST and I introduced myself. I shared on the expected participation conduct/norms. For instance, one of the norms was for the attendees to blow their party whistles whenever they had a question, and each participant was required to pop a balloon every 5 minutes to read a fun fact on blockchain for the entire group. I then asked the participants to share their expectations for the blockchain party. The participants also inquired about my background with blockchain and proceeded to tell them about my learning experience on the TechChange platform.


The discussions at the party leaned on the roundtable format with myself as the facilitator. It was important to make the interactions conversational in order for the participants to feel comfortable, and confident enough to engage with me on this topic. I had a whiteboard where I mind mapped and highlighted the general aspects of blockchain. I also drew a table to present the advantages and unknowns of the technology. The discussions kicked off with the fundamentals of blockchain technology: what it is, how it works and its applications. I took the participants through the blockchain demo. They did have some knowledge on bitcoin as a digital currency due to the buzz bitcoin had recently created in the South African news cycle, markets and on social media. However, the participants didn’t know that blockchain technology can be applied to other areas such as healthcare, energy, remittances, land titling, etc.

Their understanding of blockchain expanded once I explained the underlying technology and shared information on the case studies that I had discovered through the TechChange course.

I will mention that the students were a bit taken aback by the thought of a technology that doesn’t require third-party validation (banks, government, legal institutions, etc) and started to ask a lot of questions (trust and corruption was a big issue). Of course, we did not forget to pop a balloon every 5 minutes to read the fun facts – these fun facts also included notes on case studies which helped to enliven the discussions and provided clarity on some of the questions. We discussed case studies ranging from BanQu to Blockcerts. We then had a Q&A session, and the party ended with the participants telling me about how they plan to share the information they had learned during the blockchain party. One of the students said she would introduce blockchain technology as a debate topic at her school, another student said she would take the time to learn more about freight forwarding applications of blockchain, and another student said she’d also host a blockchain party with her friends! Unfortunately, it got late and we couldn’t pop all 50 balloons but the participants took the remaining balloons with them! The blockchain party was a success and it got me thinking about the possibility of organizing more blockchain parties for high school students in South Africa! I even heard that a high school in Johannesburg, called the African Leadership Academy, had conducted their student government elections on the blockchain. It would be interesting to discover and document how young people in South Africa are thinking about and using this technology. More blockchain parties in the future!!

Thank you Maputi for your creative blockchain party and your contributions to our first Blockchain for International Development course! Interested in taking our Blockchain for International Development course? The next session starts on Monday, September 10th and you can sign up here

Amal recently joined the TechChange team as a Marketing & Communications fellow! Prior to TechChange she worked in the startup, social impact, and tech space.

We recently sat down with Amal to learn more about her background and experience. Welcome to the team!

Q: So, tell us about yourself. How did you end up working in marketing and social impact?

I’ve always wanted to to be in the social impact and international development space. I graduated from The George Washington University with a degree in International Relations with a concentration in International Development.

My family and I were uprooted by the civil war in Somalia in the early 1990s. We lived in Kenya as refugees for the subsequent years until we were resettled to the States. Due to that experience, I’ve always wanted my work to reflect making a difference in my communities and the world. I want to be on the forefront of change and I am passionate about using technology to make that change.

Q: How did you first hear about TechChange?

I want to find meaning in my work so for me it’s essential my work and values align. Upon some research, I found TechChange and the company sat perfectly at the intersection of tech and social impact and embodied the values I was looking for. I immediately looked for ways to get involved and here I am!

Q: What excites you about marketing and sales?

I’m a tinker. I enjoy getting into the mind of the user – figuring out the needs and pain points of a potential customer and showing them how the product can address that.

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

I’m really looking forward to expanding my knowledge on various international development subjects and tech as well as learning from all the talented folks at TechChange and the greater TechChange community.

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

I’m startled very easily, even the sound of a text tone makes me jump. So it’s not the wisest choice to try to sneak up on me. However, I am a huge horror film fan and will watch a scary film in any language.

With over 9,000 attendees and 1,000 speakers, re:publica 18 is one of the largest conferences about digital culture in the world. The conference has a diversity of attendees such as artists, activists, scientists, hackers, entrepreneurs, NGOs, journalists, social media and marketing experts, and many others. The re:publica 2018 theme is POP, touching on opening up societal discussion to all and make net culture and politics tangible to anyone.

TechChange was invited to participate in the “Tech for Good” track supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The goal of this track is to bring together inspiring and innovative inputs that highlight the potential of digital technologies to solve global problems.

Meronne Teklu, an instructional designer at TechChange, participated on the “Building a new life, one e-lesson at a time: refugees and online education” panel along with Maren Kröger (UNHCR), Henner Kirchner (GIZ Jordan office), and Mohammad Moataz Ghannam (Kiron Higher Open Education). Main points of focus included how new technologies and policy approaches to making e-learning tools available to refugees, and the ethical and political issues that come with using e-learning platforms in vulnerable communities.

re:publica 2018 was truly a transformative experience – from exploring the beautiful city of Berlin, to meeting inspiring panelists and attendees, to having rich dialogue on how the public and private sectors can collaborate in making impactful programs, it was truly an enriching opportunity. Thank you to BMZ for sponsoring the panel, and Charles Martin-Shields from the German Development Institute (GDI) for organizing!

*Photo provided by re:publica flickr.



As we settle into 2018 and launch a variety of new courses, workshops, and ways to innovate our approach to online learning, we’re thankful to you, our TechChange community, for your unwavering support! In the last year, we’ve trained over 7,000 people from 155 countries on our platform alone.

Check out a few of the cool things we were able to do in 2017.

We’ve released new features on our online learning platform!

  • Frontend editing: Course administrators can now type directly into the platform section that you would like to update or add information to. The new inline editing feature means easy access to editing/updating content, a cleaner design, and a direct way to see real-time updates of changes that you’re making to your course content.



  • Completion tracking: Course administrators can now track module completion with our new rules feature. By simply setting “rules” for each slide, submodule, and module, learners will be alerted with a green check mark if they have completed the appropriate section.



  • Progress view: Course administrators can now view the progress of their students holistically with the new progress view. Based upon the rules of each course, the progress view details where students are in relation to course completion, when they were last active, and which modules have been completed.


We’ve developed informative interactive modules!

  • IFC Gender Course: TechChange partnered with IFC (International Finance Corporation) to create a multi-module course on the business case for gender smart solutions. The course is customized with three different industry tracts that users can choose between depending on what is most relevant to their work.
  • Jhpiego MCSP: The Faculty Development Program represents a major accomplishment for the Instructional Design team over the summer and fall seasons. The program is centered around best practices for medical practitioners and is meant to improve educational quality and teaching skills for practitioners in Liberia and beyond.
  • CCAP: TechChange built a self-paced course for the Coastal Cities Adaptation Project of Mozambique that focused on the basics of climate change, adaptation, disaster risk reduction, and urban resilience. The course featured many video interviews (filmed by TC staff) with important stakeholders involved in climate change management in Mozambique.  

We’ve created some beautiful content!

  • Making Cents International Report: An exciting collaboration between the Instructional Design and Creative Teams for The Rockefeller Foundation & Making Cents resulting in a youth-oriented toolkit for demand-driven training. Click here to view the report and here to view the interactive website!
  • DCA animation and pamphlet: USAID’s Development Credit Authority (DCA) uses loan guarantees to increase access to finance and promote growth in developing countries. The creative team was tasked to create multiple short animations to explain how the Development Credit Authority works and its benefits to those in developing countries. Click here to view our whiteboard style explainer video and click here to view our mobilizing local wealth for entrepreneurs around the world animation .
  • DIAL animation: We had the pleasure of working with DIAL (Digital Impact Alliance) to explain the Principles for Digital Development and its importance to the digital development community. The team was tasked with creating a 2 minute explainer animation that is both attractive and informative. Assets and animation was spearheaded by our senior illustrator & animator John Kim. Click here to watch the video.
  • mPowering animation: The Creative Team worked on a beautiful animation for mPowering’s OpenDeliver, a mobile-enabled delivery system for health resources that includes a feedback loop to supply analytics. Click here to watch the video!

We’ve hosted interesting workshops and traveled to many places!

  • Mozambique for CCAP: In January 2017, Shannon, Emily, and John traveled to Maputo and Pemba, Mozambique to record interviews with key stakeholders involved in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction efforts across the country. The interviews were incorporated into the four-module self-paced course built to empower individuals with the fundamentals of climate change, preparedness, and urban resilience.
  • Maine for PopTech: In October, the TechChange team headed to Camden, Maine for the 2017 PopTech Conference: Instigate, where we provided tech support, photography, and conference marketing support.
  • Boston for Connected Health Conference: In October, Chris, Yohan, and Meronne went to Boston, Massachusetts to provide event support with photography and video interviews.
  • Qatar for WISE: Chris and Austin traveled to Doha, Qatar for the World Innovation Summit on Education (WISE Summit) for a series of plenaries and workshops on the future of education.
  • Washington, D.C. for the World Bank Youth Summit: Nick gave an interactive workshop on blockchain for international development.
  • Instructional Design Workshops: Throughout the year at TechChange Headquarters, Isabel lead different instructional design with Articulate 360 workshops. Click here to sign up for the next one!
  • TechGirls 2017: For the fifth year in a row, we’ve had the honor of hosting two brilliant young leaders from the TechGirls State Department program. This year, Passant Abu-el-Gheit and Reem Saado shadowed the various teams hard at work making online courses in the TechChange office, and contributed a few creations of their own. Read the full blog post here!

We’re launching new online courses!

  • TC116 Blockchain for International Development: This four-week online certificate course will attempt to cut through the hype and evaluate the potential of this technology on everything from remittances to supply chain management, voting practices, smart contracts, land titling, educational credentialing, health record storage, and more. Learn about the course here!
  • TC310 The Future of Digital Health: This four-week online certificate course will explore how a range of emerging technologies — blockchain, artificial intelligence, drones, sensors and Internet of things, wearable devices, and more — are contributing to patient care and management, disease tracking, point-of-care support, health education, remote monitoring, diagnostics, supply chain management, and logistics.The course will also take a hard look at complexities surrounding patient privacy and security, limits to access, training and capacity building challenges, interoperability issues, regulation and policy hurdles, and more. Learn about the course here!
  • TC301 Artificial Intelligence for International Development: This four-week online certificate course will cover the basics of artificial intelligence from natural language processing and object differentiation, to comparative facial recognition and more. It will draw from a variety of case studies, particularly in financial services, education, and healthcare. It will also explore challenges to adoption that exist around automation, hype cycles, ethical concerns, security, sustainability, and more. We will also explore machine learning, a narrower subset of AI that focuses on data analysis and building algorithms that reduce the need for human intervention. Learn more about the course here!
  • TC101 Online Learning for International Development: This four-week course will include a number of innovative case studies as well as demos of our favorite emerging technologies to support and enhance learning. Over the past 8 years, TechChange has built 500+ online courses on all kinds of topics for a variety of audiences and in a range of formats. In that time, we have had to contend with every imaginable hurdle: diminished attention spans, bandwidth constraints, translation issues, security challenges, and more. This is why we’ve decided to package all of this experience into an online certificate course. Learn more about the course here!

As we continue to build and create beautiful courses, we’re excited to start licensing our online learning platform to organizations and continue building our expertise in online learning. A recent study on capacity building done by the Global Knowledge Initiative listed TechChange as the number one cited source individuals and organizations used most to improve curriculum design, further teaching pedagogy, develop online modules, and build presentation and facilitation skills. We look forward to continue building our online learning skill sets.

We hope to see you online, in person, or in a course!

Nithya has recently returned to TechChange as a Web Developer with our tech team! Two years ago we launched our first round of summer fellowships, where Nithya was actually a part of our inaugural group of tech fellows (see her previous staff highlight here). We took some time to talk more about her background and how it feels to be back at TechChange. Welcome to the TechChange Team, Nithya!


Q: So, what have you been up to since the end of your previous TechChange fellowship?

After my TechChange fellowship, I finished my last year at Harvey Mudd College and did a year of contract engineering projects in a variety of countries, including India, Myanmar, and Mali. I’m trying to figure out how to combine my tech skills (everything from programming to mechanical engineering) with my passion for tackling pressing social issues, especially with a focus on developing countries. I loved the travel and working on the ground in so many different places, with so many different people.


Q: What brought you back to TechChange?

The last couple of years have been filled with many very enriching experiences, but I’m still working on figuring out what kind of a path I’m hoping to continue down in the longer run. Especially given the intensity of my past year, I wanted some time to process, reflect, and research what could come next. However, I also didn’t want to stop feeling productive and driven to solve problems. Being at TechChange a couple years ago gave me my first taste of the social impact world and many members of the team have continued to be great sources of support and inspiration since. Coming back to TechChange has been the perfect way to contribute to an organization I believe in, work with a truly fantastic team, and do some exploring to figure out my future goals.


Q: How does web development fit into your interests? What interests you in your projects?

To be honest, I don’t know yet. There are a lot of ways web development can play a role in the kind of work I aspire to be part of, but there are also a variety of other types of technology/engineering that I have loved building. I think web development is a skillset I hope to maintain and grow, regardless of whether it is full-time or on the side. My work with TechChange keeps me learning on a daily basis and I’m excited to tackle as many problems I can. The great thing about being a developer at TechChange is that I know, at the end of the day, every piece of code contributes to organizations and projects around the world that are doing work I support.


Q: What is one thing that you’d love to learn or do in the next year?

I’d love to learn a new (spoken) language (or work on any of the languages I know partially), spend time in a new country, and figure out what direction I am taking my career. It will be a great year if I can manage to see a bunch of friends and family in the process too, given that I move around a lot.


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

I often play minesweeper while watching TV – yes, the game from forever ago where you click squares and try not to let bombs go off. Turns out it’s actually a logic puzzle if you don’t just play by randomly clicking squares! I can’t sit still long enough to just watch television like a normal person, I guess.

Mihret Tamrat recently joined the team this month as an Instructional Design Fellow. Mihret brings a wealth of experience – ranging from education, language, development and more. We sat down with her to learn a bit more about her background. Welcome to the TechChange team, Mihret!

Q: So…how’s your first month going?

Fantastic! I love the atmosphere and my coworkers – I feel right at home. I get up every morning excited to start work.

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

I grew up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and moved to the U.S. in the summer of 2013. I graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in Economics and minor in History this past May. Before my TechChange fellowship, I had interned at Eleni LLC (a company that built agricultural commodity exchanges for emerging markets based in Ethiopia), the Innovations for Poverty Action (in Lusaka, Zambia), and Harlem RBI (an education nonprofit in New York City).  

Q: What originally interested you in joining TechChange?

I was immediately drawn to TechChange because it encompassed the three things that I want to focus my career on: education, technology, and international development. When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to do something to help improve the quality of education for people in my community. TechChange solves part of the problem by providing high quality engaging and accessible educational materials to development workers.

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

I used to struggle to get my nine and ten-year-old students to write creative plays when I worked as an Odyssey of the Mind coach in Ithaca, NY. I quickly learned that regardless of how much information I threw at them, sometimes the delivery is more important than the material itself. A well thought out instructional design ensures the material gets its spotlight. Instructional design is all about structuring material in a way that maximizes understanding, engagement, and retention. At TechChange, I love the challenge of thinking through how a user will go through the material that we prepare and how best to present it. As a bonus, we get to work with our in-house creative team, so the possibilities are endless.

Q: What is one thing that you’d love to learn or do this Fall?

This is the first time I will be working in e-learning and I’m excited to sharpen my Articulate Storyline 360 skills. I think it’s a great tool that will serve me well in my career.

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

I speak four languages: Amharic, Tigrinya, English, and French. However, I wouldn’t call myself a native speaker in any of them. My love of Middle Eastern history led me to my passion for belly dance, which has lasted three years and counting!

A veteran web developer with the TechChange team, Josh Antonson recently relocated to Mexico City and is working remotely for the next year. Josh, along with our awesome tech team, has helped push our TechChange platform to the next level. We were able to sit down with him before his trip, where he shared some of his experiences over the last year with us.

Q: Could you share a little bit about your background? What originally interested you in TechChange?

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. After my 18 years in Illinois, I decided to go to Pittsburgh to study Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. During my last year at Carnegie Mellon, I was fortunate enough to spend the summer consulting for a financial organization in the beautiful Micronesian nation of Palau, through a program at my university called Technology and Consulting in the Global Community. After seeing the impact of my work on the organization and the country as a whole, I knew that I had to continue to seek out meaningful work in Technology for Development. Once I discovered TechChange, I knew that it would be a perfect fit and would allow me to continue to do cutting edge work as a software developer.

Josh gonging a successful completion of a user interface project.

At TechChange, we love to celebrate accomplishments. Here is Josh gonging a successful completion of a user interface project.


Q: What are some of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on? Has there been anything in particular that you’ve enjoyed or found interesting?

I feel very fortunate to have worked on a lot of really cool and challenging projects here at TechChange. My favorite project would probably be updating our web application to use Server-Side Rendering in order to improve performance and allow pages to be shared via social media. I won’t get into the technical details too much, but it was really cool to be working with cutting edge technology. It was a pretty substantial endeavor over the course of a few months and I’m very proud of the fact that we were able to roll it out to production without any downtime and without introducing additional errors into the platform. We like to joke that “if we are doing our jobs correctly, the users shouldn’t even notice,” so it was great to actually achieve that with a major feature release.

Q: What’s the team like? What are your favorite parts about working at TechChange?

The team at TechChange is awesome! Not only is the work that I get to do so much fun, but the people that I get to work with are equally as fun. My favorite part of being on a such a small tech team is the opportunity to play a major role in decision making and to constantly be learning new things as a Software Developer. For the most part, I don’t really work directly with people on the Creative or Instructional Design teams, but it’s really cool to see all the awesome work that they are doing on a day-to-day basis. We take food very seriously here at TechChange, so going out to lunch with the rest of the team is something I look forward to on most days. I am also a big fan of board game nights, happy hours, and the amount of effort Nick puts into celebrating birthdays. I couldn’t really imagine a better group of people to work with.

TechChange team watching the eclipse this past August from our office!

TechChange team watching the eclipse this past August from our office!


Q: What is one thing that you’d love to learn or do in the next year?

One of the first things that fascinated me about software development is how web applications are able to scale with an increasing amount of users. As we continue to grow the number of people using our education platform, I’m very excited to take on the challenge of making sure that the performance and reliability of the underlying technology is up to speed. I feel very fortunate to be in a position to play a major role in TechChange’s growth and am looking forward to the next year.

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

I have a major fear of stickers. I can’t really tell you why or how it started, but I can say that it’s a big-time struggle when I try to eat certain fruits.


On Monday, we had the pleasure of hosting TechGirls’s Job Shadow Day for the fourth year in a row! TechGirls is a selective exchange program that encourages and supports the desire of Middle Eastern and North African teenage girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). During the 3 week long exchange program, the girls (ranging from ages 15 – 17) travel around the U.S. getting a taste of the various careers one can have in STEM. One of the ways they experience a STEM career in the U.S. is by spending a day at a tech company during Job Shadow Day.

We were lucky enough to host Nada Abdelaziz Mostafa Abdelaziz and Lydia Ferial Oukid, who have interests in bioengineering and biomedical engineering, this year at our DC office. Both hope to learn more about the technology and engineering fields, and aspire to be leaders in both their local and international communities. We were able to show them a bit about what we do here at TechChange, and hosted workshops with our creative, industrial design, tech, and communication teams.

Nada and Lydia began their day by working with our creative team to create their own animated assets!


Check out what they created below:



Afterwards, they were able to learn about the projects that our tech fellows have been working on this summer.


As per TechChange tradition, we had lunch at a nearby Ethiopian restaurant.

After lunch, Lydia and Nadia worked with our instructional design team, and were able to create their own online course in Articulate! Check out Lydia’s articulate and Nada’s articulate.

Lastly, they learned how to build their own webpage in HTML, with the assets they created throughout the day, from our tech team!


All around, we at TechChange had a great time with the TechGirls! We look forward to hearing more of their future accomplishments — best of luck Nada and Lydia!