What does humanitarian response look like today? With so much information available, how can we use big data effectively for humanitarian efforts?

Joins us on May 5 for a free webinar with Patrick Meier to chat about his new book, “Digital Humanitarians: How Big Data is Changing Humanitarian Response.” Join the conversation and hear Patrick’s insights on his latest book.

May 5, 2015 at 10:00 – 11:00 am EST

Patrick Meier

Patrick is an internationally recognized thought-leader on humanitarian technology and innovation. He directs QCRI’s Social Innovation Program where he develops “Next Generation Humanitarian Technologies” in partnership with international humanitarian organizations. His new book “Digital Humanitarians” has already been endorsed by Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Oxford, UN, World Bank and the Red Cross.

Patrick also founded/co-founded CrisisMappers, Digital Humanitarians, MicroMappers, Humanitarian UAV Network and the award-winning Standby Task Force. He has a PhD from The Fletcher School, Pre-Doc from Stanford and an MA from Columbia. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Times, Wired and Mashable. Patrick’s influential blog iRevolutions has received over 1.5 million hits. He tweets at @patrickmeier.

Watch Patrick’s TEDx Talk: Changing The World, One Map At a Time.

We hope you will join the conversation on May 5. Sign up now!

By Norman Shamas and Samita Thapa

In a previous post, we wrote about why global development practitioners need to be data skeptics. One of the many reasons that we need to be skeptical about the data we are collecting is the biases that are incorporated in the data. The data bias is especially significant when it comes to gender data. Women and groups that don’t identify with binary genders are largely missing or misrepresented in global development data.

Data is a crucial component of any program or intervention. It justifies the need for a specific program, show its effectiveness, and allows us to improve it through evaluation. But this important information tells us little if more than half of the population is missing or misrepresented, so we need to start looking at data with a gender lens.
data in the program cycle

Data on women raises awareness of women related issues

With 62 million girls not attending school worldwide, the U.S. government was able to justify their “Let Girls Learn” initiative. This initiative was announced in February and is aimed at making education a reality for girls around the world. USAID is one of the agencies involved in the government-wide initiative and have presented their approach with data to support it.

But there is still a problem getting good data on women. GSMA’s 2015 Bridging the Gender Gap Report highlights two systemic barriers to mobile ownership and usage for women:

  1. lack of disaggregated data and
  2. lack of focus on women as a market.

However, we need better gender data for more than just the economy. Oxfam conducted a household survey on the gendered effects of the December 26, 2004 tsunami that hit several Asian countries. Women were found to be more severely affected than men. Despite the need for better gender data in the field, it is not always happening. Lack of data on women leads to lack of awareness of issues related to women and consequently, lack of programs designed to tackle those issues.

Survey design can promote non-binary gender inclusion

The problem of gender and data bias gets even more complex when we talk about non-binary genders. Twitter, for example, determines its users’ gender based on data it analyzes from tweets. There are only two gender options: male and female, and users cannot choose to opt out from automatic gender assignment or manually choose their gender. By the simple fact that Twitter is using a gender binary of male/female, individuals who do not identify with a binary (e.g., transgender individuals) or have anatomically mixed sexual characteristics (i.e., intersex individuals) are ignored in the data.

It is important to ask questions about gender on a survey to improve interventions. Instead of restricting gender to a binary, a third option to opt-out or define oneself as ‘other’ can be instituted. When appropriate, additional questions can be used to determine whether practice and self-identification fit into pre-defined categories.

Data must represent local gender categories

It is also important to localize the survey where gender categories and practices may vary. India acts as a good case study for the difficulties in language for demographic purposes. India initially provided three gender options: male, female, and eunuch on its passport forms. However, these three categories marginalized other transgender populations, so in 2014 Indian courts changed the category of ‘eunuch’ to ‘other’ on the election ballots. This simple change in language not only promotes the human rights of India’s non-binary gender individuals, but also provides better data on its non-binary gender communities.

The hijra are a transgender community that has existed in South Asia for over 4,000 years. Along with a few ‘Western’ countries, at least four South Asian countries — Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh — recognize a third gender in some legal capacity.

Global development is moving forward with programming for non-binary gender communities. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency put out an action plan for working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues from 2007-2009. Last year USAID announced its LGBT Vision for Action, a general roadmap of how the donor would support non-binary gender communities. As programming for non-binary gender communities continues and increases, we need to think closely about the language we use and how we collect data on gender to create effective, data-driven interventions.

With development becoming more data driven, the data we collect and the biases we include in the data are having a larger impact. Technology can make these biases more entrenched through features like data validation. Even though data validation is important for survey collection–it limits responses to particular choices or data types (e.g., phone numbers)–it also restricts options based on the choices of the survey creator and can marginalize groups whose identities are not included or allowed as a valid option. Going forward, we need to be careful we are not unintentionally marginalizing other groups or genders with the data we collect.

Interested in engaging in similar conversations around data and tech in M&E? Join us and more than 90 other international development practitioners in our upcoming course on Technology for Monitoring and Evaluation.

Image Source: Global Forest Watch

Open data has been a popular topic in international development recently, but what about the evaluation of open data programs? We are excited to welcome Dow Maneerattana from World Resources Institute (WRI) to our upcoming Tech for M&E online course to talk about evaluations of open data movements. Before her guest expert session next week in our course, we asked her for a little sneak peek:

What does World Resources Institute do?

World Resources Institute is a global research organization that turns big ideas into action! We focus on six critical issues at the nexus of environment and development: food, forest, water, climate, energy, and cities and transport.

What is your role at WRI?

I work on one of the critical issues of our time: deforestation. We have very big ideas about how to reduce deforestation, and I have a unique opportunity to build monitoring and evaluation (M&E) processes and systems from the ground up to ensure that we are capturing results and impact, and adapt our strategy and approach over time. I am involved with WRI’s M&E advocacy, trainings on basic functions of M&E at all stages of a project, and finding strategic opportunities to learn from our work through evaluations.

What will you be speaking about in the course?

I’m excited to share my passion for evaluations (and geek out) with the course participants. I will talk about emerging trends and impacts of open data movements in developing countries and discuss our initiative evaluation design, which includes Global Forest Watch, an interactive forest monitoring and alert system and open data portal. Global Forest Watch leverages remote sensing, big data and algorithms to produce the timeliest and most precise information about the status of forest, including near real time suspected locations of recent tree cover loss.

What excites you the most about Tech for M&E?

I am most excited about the opportunity to shift the dialogue on monitoring and evaluation, which often gets a bad reputation for how it is full of confusing terminology or synonymous with donor requirements. Once you move past the superficial fear, monitoring and evaluation tools and processes are common sense solutions; and when they are coupled with appropriate technology can create one powerful, time-saving machine. It’s been fascinating to see many ways smart techies create and apply tech for M&E solutions for international development. For me, I enjoy connecting the dots and putting powerful tools in the hands of people with the least power.

We are looking forward to Dow’s session in our Tech for M&E online course that begins on Monday, April 20. Want to engage in conversations about the use of tech in M&E with guest experts like Dow? Join us in our upcoming online course on Technology for Monitoring and Evaluation.

About Dow

Dow Profile

Dow is a monitoring and evaluation manager at the World Resources Institute, a research organization that works on issues at the intersection of environment and development. She loves to empower teams to systematically capture success stories as well as learn from evaluations and often draws from her international experience as a community organizer and human and labor rights activist. Dow has worked on impact and performance evaluations of governance projects at the National Democratic Institute and on rule of law, human and labor rights advocacy, and livelihoods projects with Pact and Human Rights and Development Foundation. In her free time, you can find her playing tennis, glamping/camping, or mentoring an 8th grader through Asian American Lead.

Wondered who designs and teaches our online courses? You met one of our course facilitators Kendra Keith in a previous post, and today we introduce you to Norman Shamas.

As TechChange’s Director of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Norman brings his passion for education to designing online courses. Norman facilitates our popular online course on Technology for Monitoring and Evaluation and will be co-facilitating our newest course on Technology for Data Visualization this summer. He also facilitated our previous Mapping for International Development course and our customized course on Technology for International Development for IREX.

Norman has quickly become a thought leader in the field of technology for social good. He was recently invited to be part of the review committee for the Development Impact Lab’s Spring Innovate Grant. Additionally, he is also helping lead important conversations on gender and digital security and bringing important techniques and technologies from data science into conversations around monitoring and evaluation.

Before joining TechChange last year, Norman was at Creative Associates International where he developed an internship program. He completed his graduate studies at the University of Minnesota (where he was a graduate student instructor) and undergraduate studies at Arizona State University.

Join Norman in his upcoming Tech for M&E online course that begins Monday, April 20!

As an online learning community, we are always looking for ways our students can learn more effectively. Many of our amazing alumni, who take our online courses on top of their full-time jobs, have used what they learned in our courses to accelerate their careers, or successfully launch or complete various projects. But we seldom see how our students are learning. We came across the work of Katherine Haugh in our twitter feed when she posted a picture of her graphic notes for our on – demand course on Mobile Data Solutions.

Since these notes have been helpful for Katherine, we wanted to make them available for the TechChange community, we are excited to have Katherine help us as our graphic facilitator for some of our live events in our upcoming courses. She already took notes for one of our live sessions with guest expert, Vanessa Corlazzoli of Search for Common Ground in our Tech for M&E online course.

A snapshot of Katherine's notes for our guest expert session with Vanessa Corlazzoli in our Tech for M&E online course

Some of Katherine’s notes for our guest expert session with Vanessa Corlazzoli in our Tech for M&E online course

Since taking notes by hand is found to be more beneficial than taking notes on the computer, we sat down with Katherine to learn more about her note taking strategies and any tips she has for those of us who would like to get started.

How did you hear about TechChange?
I heard about TechChange through Twitter. I am new to the M&E field, so I am constantly looking for online courses that relate to evaluation, especially ones that focus on combining technology and international development initiatives.

How long have you been taking notes by hand?
I have been taking notes by hand since I was in the fifth grade. In middle school, I took all of my notes by hand and always carried a bag of multi-colored pens around with me. What I like most about note-taking is being able to use my notes as a learning or discussion tool (for myself and others). When I was in college, I worked as a note-taker through the McBurney Disability Resource Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I worked as a notetaker for a variety of courses–from Microeconomics to Global Health and Poverty–and I loved it. (Not to mention, I was being paid to attend my own classes. It’s hard to beat that!). Drawing out historical events or evaluation plans helps me to visualize and better understand what I am thinking and also allows me to share my ideas and thoughts with others in a concise and creative way. I enjoy taking extremely complicated issues or concepts and making them simple and easily digestible.

Why handwritten note taking? What are the pros and cons?
Many of my friends and professors asked me this same question. There are countless pros to taking notes by hand:

  • You understand better. It requires that you understand and think through what you are writing because everything you do is intentional when you takes notes by hand.
  • You have more control over the style and layout of your notes. There is more room for creative expression.
  • It forces you to learn as you write — which is the main purpose of taking notes.

The major downsides to taking notes are hand cramps (yes, this is a thing) and not being able to catch every word, detail or concept. You have to work speedily and you run the risk of missing some points.
However, if you are able to capture the major points (for yourself to remember later or to relay to others) you’ve done your job.

What are some of your strategies to take great notes?
The three important strategies I suggest are:

  1. Find the right mix for you (and your audience): For me, writing on a white paper with enough text and symbols works the best. Remember to keep the notes short, and have triggers in key words, images, or symbols to help jog your memory when looking them over.
  2. Get the right tools: Try out different options to know what works best, I like using darker base colors, and bright colors to highlight main points.
  3. Make it personal: Write notes in your own words, I also include dorky jokes in my notes to help me recall what I wrote.

What is your advice for people who want to get started with note taking?
Just give it a go! You’ll be surprised by how easy it is and remember, you don’t have to be an artist to be a brilliant note-taker. Take a concept that you know very well and try to draw it out. It could be in list format or with pictures–whatever makes the most sense to you!

If you want to start taking beautiful notes but can’t stay away from tech, you can also use MindManager as one of our other alumni, Daniel Acosta did in our previous Tech for M&E course.

You can see more of Katherine’s beautiful notes on her blog. Stay tuned to see more of Katherine’s notes for TechChange’s upcoming courses as well!

About Katherine

KHaugh Headshot
Katherine Haugh graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in Political Science, International Studies, and Professional Chinese Communication in May of 2014. As an undergraduate, Katherine developed an interest in a wide range of security issues—from nuclear non-proliferation to counterterrorism—as well as a regional interest in South Asia. She is currently a merit scholar at the International Student House and works as a Research Assistant at Innovation Network, a nonprofit evaluation firm in Washington, D.C. She is a long distance runner, board game enthusiast, hiker and lover of gummy vitamins.

By Samita Thapa and Kendra Keith

When we interviewed Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus, at the 2013 mHealth Summit, he said that mobile phones are the “Aladdin’s lamp for healthcare”, a statement that still rings true today. Two years after that interview, we take a look at how digital health is beginning to expand beyond mobile phones. Mobile phones – especially smartphones – have been revolutionary in health care, especially in developing countries. With budding industries like add-ons to smartphones and wearable tech, the mHealth landscape is evolving.

Here are 5 digital health tools that extend beyond the mobile phone:

1. Pre cancer screening phone attachment

OscanPhoto source: Cellphone Beat

In areas of the world with high amounts of tobacco consumption and limited access to affordable dental care, oral cancer is a major concern. Oral cancer can be prevented with early detection and to equip rural health workers, the OScan team at Stanford university has developed a screening tool that mounts on a camera phone and conducts screenings for oral lesions. The data can then be transmitted to dentists and oral surgeons for assessment. OScan is in the process of conducting field tests with grants from Stanford, Vodafone Americas Foundation, and previously received funding from the mHealth Alliance.

2. STD testing smartphone attachment

Columbia University researchers have created a dongle (an attachment with a specific software) that can plug into Androids or iPhones and conduct tests for HIV and syphilis in about 15 minutes. The attachment costs $34 to manufacture, unlike the current method of conducting these tests in labs which can cost nearly $18,000. The dongle was recently tested in Rwanda on 96 patients and is still under development to improve its accuracy before doing a bigger trial run.

3. Ultrasound attachment for smartphones

Photo source: MobiSante

Seeing how an infant is developing during pregnancy allows any dangers to mother and baby to be addressed at an early stage, and is important to reducing mortalities related to pregnancy and birth. Urban hospitals may be equipped to provide ultrasound services to pregnant women, but it is difficult to extend these services to rural communities. To make ultrasound imaging accessible to everyone, MobiSante, Inc, an imaging technology company has developed a “smartphone based ultrasound device that allows health workers to perform ultrasounds anywhere and share the images via secure Wi-Fi, cellular networks, or USB.” With this attachment, the benefits of ultrasound services can be put in the hands of community health workers in even the most remote clinics.

4. Sensory patch for remote patient monitoring

Wendy Taylor with Smart band-aidPhoto source: Mashable

USAID recently launched the ‘Grand Challenge’ calling for innovative approaches in the fight against the ongoing Ebola crisis. One of the two innovations unveiled at SXSW ‘15 is the multisense memory patch or Smart Band-Aid. It’s a flexible patch that takes a patient’s baseline vitals and measures the changes from the baseline remotely. The vitals can be measured from outside the hot zone, or area containing active ebola cases, as the patch uses a USB cable to transmit data (the final version will use Bluetooth). With 7 – 10 hours of battery life, it costs $100 and is disposable. Wendy Taylor, Director of the USAID Center for Accelerating Innovation (pictured above), calls the smart band-aid a game changer!

5. Data Collection Necklace for Infant Vaccinations

Khushi BabyPhoto source: Khushi Baby

Developed to address the challenge rural clinicians and parents face in documenting children’s vaccination records, Khushi Baby stores children’s medical history in a digital necklace. After winning the Thorne Prize for Social Innovation in Health in 2014, this Yale University classroom project has become an organization and has conducted a successful field test in the village of Mada Daag, India. When vaccinations are administered, the healthcare worker can scan the necklace with their Khushi Baby app on their smartphone to transfer vaccination data to the necklace. The data is also automatically uploaded to the cloud once the healthcare worker returns to the clinic. Parents then receive automatic voice calls reminding them about vaccination clinics and during their next visit, the healthcare worker simply scans the necklace of the baby to see which vaccines are due.

As amazing as mobile phones and these new attachments and wearables are in global health, these new technologies also raise important issues. For example, when it comes to wearables, battery life can be an issue. Erica Kochi, a senior advisor at UNICEF noted that internet connectivity has beat electricity to many rural parts of the world, so access to electricity may still be minimal or non-existent in parts of the world where wearable tech can help. While finding better ways to collect more data is vital in healthcare, data privacy and security is increasingly becoming an important concern as we are realizing that there is too much data to manage.

The overall issue of practicality is another concern. Are these innovative solutions practical, cost-effective, and cost-saving? These are the conversations we will be having in our upcoming mHealth online course. We will be discussing new mHealth approaches like the ones mentioned in this post among others. We have a great group enrolled already and will be hearing from guest experts from organizations like Medic Mobile, National Institutes of Health (NIH), D-Tree International, PATH, and more!

Have you seen our animations and wondered who is creating them? Meet one of our graphic designers who brings them to life, Rebecca Nelson.

Where are you from?
I am from Accokeek Maryland, which is not too far from DC so I know DC incredibly well, particularly when it comes to the museums.

What did you do before working at TechChange?
I worked as an Assistant Manager at Simulation Rides at the Smithsonian. I did some freelance projects on the side (customizing TOMS shoes for events at Nordstrom), but nothing I really wanted to, till I found TechChange.

How did you hear about TechChange?
I helped my friend apply to TechChange two or three years ago. He got the job and I got to watch the company grow from a third party perspective. I remember his job slowly developing from graphic designer, to motion graphics, to animation, then back down to illustration as he was able to specialize as the company grew. I was also able to see TechChange start from a room to an attic to where it is now and wanted to be a part of this incredible journey.

What exactly do you do at TechChange? What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different! Even though I mostly do character animation, it is a fraction of everything we work on here, so I have become more of a generalist, which has its own benefits. I have illustrated, done storyboards, recorded and cut audio, rigged assets, done motion graphics, designed 3D models, and then of course, animated.

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know every aspect of the pipeline, it has made me both more valuable as an individual who could make their own animations, and as a teammate able to know what the next person working on the same project needs.

Rebecca working on a project at her desk

Rebecca working on a project at her desk

How did you get into creative design?
Ever since I was little I loved the idea of animation, though as a child I had no idea what it was called, so I just drew a lot. I was much better at science or math, but I was fascinated by art because it was something I didn’t understand. Of course, now I know little things that help with design, like rule of thirds or that when the mind thinks of an object, it tends to be from a slightly above angle, because we usually have to look down on smaller items (an exception being things with screens, we tend to remember those from a straight angle).

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned working on animation projects for international development organizations?
It’s hard to boil it down to one single lesson. The first main thing I learned here was the pipeline of animation productions, even if it was as simple as a program shortcut. In animation lingo, I even started using a rigging system that allowed Inverse Kinematics (IK) on rigs in After Effects instead of Forward Kinematics (FK). It was a little bumpy at first because I learned the hard way the pivot points couldn’t be adjusted after the fact, but it was definitely valuable in the long run.

The second main thing I learned was the cultural and social aspects of animations. Clients usually want something very specific, and for good reasons. For example, characters must shake hands with the right hand because the left hand is considered disrespectful in certain cultures, and other specific requests like the relocation habits of refugees after a natural disaster. It’s fascinating to learn these as we work on these projects!

How do you keep up with the latest news in design?
My first source is my team at TechChange. Someone is always trying to innovate and streamline the design/production process. So, we naturally find out about new things in design. Second, I go to school in my spare time where I learn more about 3D modeling and rigging and texturing, which I have started to use at TechChange for small projects. Third, I watch a lot of cartoons. There’s a new generation of shows and content providers that allow a lot more independent and creator-based productions and the best way to learn about it is by just watching it.

Kids visit TechChange for documentary

Dylan and Jack from Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring, MD interviewed Rebecca, Charlie, and Nick for a documentary on the 3D printers and prosthetics.

What do you love most about working at TechChange?
I love how open the company is. Everything is available to look at so there’s none of the bad things that one associates with big companies here. At any moment I can know what my higher ups are working on, where our energy comes from, what is going on with the courses, and I even know how much cereal is left because the cereal bar has clear containers!

What is your favorite TechChange moment so far?
I really love Show and Tell at TechChange. Every month, we do a team show and tell where we all get to show the rest of the team what we have been working on. I actually really hate presenting, but there’s nothing more beautiful than when people get to talk about something they’re passionate about. It goes back to my favorite thing about the TechChange, how transparent they are. I would never know about how hard everyone works if we did not take the time to highlight them. Oh, and we did wine and painting once as a group. It was a really interesting experiment seeing how each team member approaches the same challenge.

The TechChange team strikes a serious artist pose with their final art pieces during Wine and Painting night

The TechChange team strikes a serious artist pose with their final art pieces during Wine and Painting night

What do you do when you’re not at TechChange?
I’m constantly taking some sort of class to get better at what I love, so I am mostly busy with homework. When I do finally decide to leave my home, I usually end up at a book store. My earliest jobs revolved around books; it’s a habit I never quite kicked.

If you had to direct someone to the best place to eat in D.C. where would it be?
U-street Cafe, since they combine both my love for breakfast food and peaches!

Meet Charlie Weems, TechChange’s project manager. Like many of us here, Charlie wears many different hats at TechChange. Read more and get to know Charlie and what he does as a project manager here.

Where are you from?

Amherst, Massachusetts

What did you do before working at TechChange?

I worked at USAID/Tanzania as well as two other USAID contractors. Before that, I graduated from Whitman College where I majored in Politics and wrote my honors thesis on the regulation of commodities markets to prevent price spikes of staple foods.

How did you hear about TechChange?

As lame as this sounds, I actually saw a TechChange job posting on LinkedIn and responded. The deadline for applications was already a few months past, but I decided to apply anyway and I’m really glad that I did.

TechGirls Ghada and Nataly   learn about photography with Charlie during their visit to the TechChange office

TechGirls Ghada and Nataly learn about photography with Charlie during their visit to the TechChange office

What exactly do you do at TechChange? What does a typical day look like for you?

Lots of things! I rotate from videography, to script writing, to front-end web development. I also have been working on proposals for new contracts, which is exciting. When I first started at TechChange, I was mostly focused on assembling self-paced courses, like our course about diagnosing and treating Malaria that has now been deployed in Nigeria and Uganda. Building a training for TechChange requires a lot of multidisciplinary skills such as design experience, conducting video interviews, proofreading technical content, and being able to create engaging learning exercises.

Recently, I’ve pivoted towards web development with the redesign of our website. This was a great experience because I was able to collaborate with our graphic designer Yohan, as well as the rest of the tech team to get the website launched. Overall, I ended up contributing 395,179 lines of code to the github repository for our main website; it feels great to know that thousands of people are viewing it every month. Next, I’ll be focusing on the future of TechChange’s online learning platform. We have some great mockups so far and I think folks in our courses will really love the features we’re adding.

How did you get into programming and social change?

My dad was the author of a fairly popular series of C++ and Java textbooks, so I kind of grew up with computers around all the time. In high school I began exploring web-design and briefly ran my own shop building websites for small businesses that I knew. Being at TechChange has really taken my development skills up a notch though, and there’s a lot more left to learn. Pair coding with Matt or Will, our tech team is a great experience.

As for the social change part, I was always involved in volunteer work growing up, but going to Whitman College was a huge turning point for me. The politics program there has a strong social and economic justice focus, so organisations with that focus was first and foremost in my mind when I started looking for jobs.

Charlie in Uganda for the Malaria Consortium project

Charlie in Uganda for the Malaria Consortium project

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in international development so far?

Projects and innovations need to have a laser-beam focus on being sustainable, and that often means incorporating a for-profit incentive. It’s really easy to get excited about a new innovation geared towards developing countries (think of how many different battery-charging cook stoves we see each year), but the real test for any innovation is whether or not it’s useful enough that people are willing to buy it. Cell phones and solar panels are fantastic examples of products that have passed this test in many developing country contexts, while others (such as the Playpump) run into major issues with long-term sustainability.

How do you keep up with the latest news in software development?

Hacker News keeps me pretty up to date most of the time.

What do you love most about working at TechChange?

It’s really hard to pick! But I’d probably have to say the people. It’s wonderful to come in everyday and work with folks that are not only super smart, but also really funny. I think I’ve laughed more while working here than at any other place.

Charlie's birthday gift from the TechChange team: a personalized beer label for his home brews

Charlie’s birthday gift from the TechChange team: a personalized beer label for his home brews

What is your favorite TechChange moment so far?

Probably when we finally turned in our Malaria Consortium project. Catherine, Swetha and I literally had to sprint to the nearest Fedex so that it would get to Uganda on time. It was great to come back to the office having completed TechChange’s largest project ever.

What do you do when you’re not at TechChange?

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time working on my 3D printer! It’s been a lot of fun to assemble. Once I get it fine-tuned I think I’ll take on making drone parts. Beyond that I usually like going out camping with friends or hanging out at happy hours after work.

Charlie with his 3D printer

Charlie with his 3D printer

If you had to direct someone to the best place to eat in D.C. where would it be?

I’m a Huge fan of Right Proper Brewing Company in Shaw.

What does TechChange have in common with Alicia Keys, Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, and Doctors Without Borders? We are all in Aid & International Development Forum’s ‘Top 100 Accounts to Follow on Twitter in 2015!’

AIDF released their list of the most active and followed accounts in humanitarian aid and development on March 3, 2015 and we are excited to be listed as number 57 on the list as one of the top three Mobile for Development (#M4D) twitter accounts.

TechChange also ranked among the top three Mobile for Development (M4D) accounts, next to @mHealthSummit and @GSMAm4d. Nine other M4D twitter accounts also made AIDF’s top 100 list, showing the growth of this sector.

We are equally excited to see some of our partner organizations including the World Bank, Oxfam International, USAID’s Global Development Lab, and more make the list!
See the complete list here.

If you don’t already, follow us @TechChange to get the latest updates on technology for social change, social enterprise, edtech, global development, exclusive deals for our followers, and more.

What are tangible ways to promote peace in local communities? How can peacebuilding practices effectively spread beyond borders? What are the best ways to encourage tolerance and responsible citizenship to avoid wars?

These issues are the focus of Generations For Peace, a leading global non-profit peacebuilding organization working to solve challenges and resolve conflicts around the world. Founded by HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein and Sarah Kabbani of Jordan in 2007, Generations For Peace focuses on empowering youth by training young volunteers in sustainable conflict transformation so they can introduce peaceful practices and spread them throughout their communities. The youth volunteers then train others in conflict resolution practices with advocacy and empowerment training in the form of activities such as sports, arts, and dialogues.

The five ways Generations For Peace empowers their youth volunteers around the world as portrayed in the animation

The five ways Generations For Peace empowers their youth volunteers around the world as portrayed in the animation

Storytelling via Animation
If a picture is worth a thousand words, an animation can tell a story that can propel people to action. After coming across TechChange’s animation for DME For Peace last summer, Generations For Peace approached the TechChange Creative Team to help tell their story of promoting peace through an animation.

Julia Kent, Director of Donor and Partner Communications at Generations For Peace, stressed that an animation was the perfect medium for telling their story. She emphasized that, “peacebuilding, and particularly sustainable peacebuilding via the Generations For Peace model, is a complex story to communicate. We felt an animated video would be an excellent medium to use in simplifying our story, and to show powerful and tangible visual examples of the work our volunteers do around the world.” The goal of the animation was to communicate this story of the powerful impact of youth volunteers sharing conflict resolution practices with others, carrying out their mission to “Pass It On” – ultimately urging viewers to take action by contributing their time, donation, or voice to GFP’s efforts.

We’re proud to announce the launch of our latest animation with Generations For Peace.

The Process of Visualizing Peacebuilding Practices
The Generations For Peace story is one of personal and community transformation, so the youth characters in the animation were vital in its storytelling. It was also important to have many diverse characters as well, to show the potential for peaceful conflict transformation to restore relationships between people of different backgrounds. The animation also needed to reflect Generations For Peace’s work in a variety of rural and urban contexts in 50 countries in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and Africa. By understanding Generations For Peace’s vision for an animation, we used simple, papercut-style characters in the animation to be able to have a longer animation of 3:05 minutes with many different characters and activities to fully communicate their various vehicles for peacebuilding.

We used mixed teams of blue and yellow uniforms on each team (instead of one team of blue and another of yellow) to emphasize how GFP volunteers facilitate sports-based games that require cooperation between different groups as a medium for peacebuilding.

We used mixed teams of blue and yellow uniforms on each team (instead of one team of blue and another of yellow) to emphasize how GFP volunteers facilitate sports-based games that require cooperation between different groups as a medium for peacebuilding.

GFP’s guidance in reflecting their brand and communicating culturally relevant messages in the animation was crucial in coming up with a great final product. Julia also added that as this young organization is poised for another strong year of growth, they are excited to use this animation to reach more supporters and partners to support their mission. Organizations like Generations For Peace are doing very important work, and at TechChange, we help tell their stories in an engaging way, helping them communicate their story to a wider audience. We are excited to see Generations For Peace’s growth in the upcoming year!

Make sure to check out the ‘Pass It On’ video here, and let us know if you’re interested in sharing your organization’s story or a campaign by contacting the TechChange Creative Team at info@techchange.org.