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.

As you can probably tell, we’re all very excited here at TechChange. Former TechChanger, long-time Ushahidi guru, and eternal Zen Archer Rob Baker has been selected as part of the second round of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. Yes, Rob will be contributing to Open Data Initiatives at USAID  where he will develop innovative solutions in areas of national significance.

For those who are unfamiliar with the program, the White House website has details:

“The Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) program pairs top innovators from the private sector, non-profits, and academia with top innovators in government to collaborate during focused 6-13 month “tours of duty” to develop solutions that can save lives, save taxpayer money, and fuel job creation. Each team of innovators is supported by a broader community of interested citizens throughout the country.”

But don’t just take it from the White House. Have a listen to last year’s fellows about what their experience meant:

While we’re pretty stoked about open data in general (and even teach it as part of our course on Open Government) and this development in particular, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for our first-ever upcoming course on intrapreneurship. Intrapreneurship is defined as entrepreneurial behavior from within a large, established institution. But the truly interesting part of this program is that it shows an angle that institutions should consider: institutionalizing a process for insourcing innovative talent and new ideas. While most of our posts have thus far focused on the role of individuals in pushing their organizations forward, the truth is that forward-thinking organizations are looking just as hard for entrepreneurs to help rethink their business. After all, if ideas like this can deliver solid results for an institution as large as the federal government, then your organization is hard-pressed to find an excuse.

And so from the bottom of our hearts and the top our nerd attic, we’re sending our best to Rob and all of the incoming fellows! We know you’ll crush it.

Rob Baker Speaking at DUPictured: Rob Baker speaking at DU


If you’re interested in contributing to PIF projects, you can learn about current and future rounds of the PIF program at, contribute code on GitHub, or visit to help turn openly available government data into new products, services, and jobs. 

Our OpenGov 101 Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a Semifinalist in the Knight News Challenge! Submitted in partnership with Global Integrity, we’re hoping to develop a global curricula to connect the open government community with the tools, experts, best practices, and organizations driving the field forward. While we still have some skepticism of MOOCs as a cure-all for online education and believe there are many ways to improve how MOOCs are executed, in this case we believe a MOOC format makes sense.

We believe the challenge for OpenGov isn’t just making new tools to open up governments, but empowering citizens to use those tools to pursue accountability and transparency. After all, open data has little value if people can’t use it (according to the Harvard Business Review), or as we put in our introduction to our Digital Organizing and Open Government course:

But don’t take our word for it. There are a number of very cool finalists in the remaining 40 in the refinement phase, so head on over and check them out if you like. We’ve left applause and feedback for a few already!

If you’re interested in contributing to our submission, here are three easy ways to get involved:

1) Celebrating #OpenGovDay on April 8.


April 8 marks three years since key provisions of President Obama’s Open Government Directive were due. We think this is a big deal worth celebrating – but we want to hear what you think.

This week, tweet @techchange or use the hashtag #OpenGovIs to tell us what open government means to you.

Then – on April 8 – join our Tweet Storm by following and using hashtag #OpenGovDay throughout the day. We’ll be retweeting the best #OpenGovIs submissions to amplify your voice – and we’ll be offering special deals on our new class – Digital Organizing and Open Government.

2) Feedback or Applause on our Submission

While “applause” won’t affect our entry’s chances of winning, it will give us a chance to see who finds our project interesting and give us a chance to reach out. If you have a comment or feedback, we’d love your ideas to refine and clarify our submission for the next phase.

 3) Talk with Your Organization about Partnership for the Day.

Watch this space, but we’re looking for institutional partners for the day. Let us know if you’re interested! Just tweet at us or leave a comment on this post. So far we’re proud to have organizations joining us such as Open Forum Foundation (@open4m), CrowdHall (@crowdhall), OpenGov Hub (@opengovhub), Global Integrity (@globalintegrity) and more!

Are you interested in learning with TechChange? Check out our next class: Digital Organizing and Open Government. Class starts April 8, 2013. Apply Now.

How can USAID use mobile technologies to more effectively collect, analyze and share data?  These are the central questions we will be addressing as part of a new course TechChange has developed in partnership with the Mobile Solutions team at USAID and QED.

USAID, together with its partners, has the opportunity to increase efficiency, improve the quality of the information its uses, and better meet USAID goals related to its Forward Reforms, Evaluation Policy, and Open Data Initiative by utilizing mobile technologies to collect and disseminate data about people, projects, and programs. This course will help USAID Missions and implementing partners understand how to do just that.

Building off of the success of our 8-week online certificate course this fall on Accelerating Mobile Money, TC311 Mobile Data Solutions will be a four week online course (February 1-March 1, 2013) designed to build the necessary technical capacity to deploy mobile data collection strategies by bringing together Mission staff and implementing partners. The four weeks are structured as follows to provide a comprehensive overview of mobile devices in data collection.

Week 1: Introduction to mobile data solutions

  • What is mobile data? What are the benefits and challenges associated with collecting data wirelessly?

Week 2: Project design

  • Designing projects and preparing concept notes, scopes of work, other documents to include mobile technologies.

Week 3: Implementation

  • Study design and programming, training, field operations, data management

Week 4: Analysis, visualization and sharing

  • Utilizing data for decision-making, sharing with partners

The course will go beyond explaining the benefits of this approach. Participants will learn the questions to ask in order to assess projects (Are mobile technologies appropriate?); design them to achieve the maximum benefits possible (How should interventions be designed to take advantage of these technologies?), implement them (What device should we use? How do we train staff? What resources do we need in the field? At the Mission?), and report and share the data (How do we create visuals that can inform decision making? How do we share the results with beneficiaries and partners in-country?).

Featured tools, organizations and projects include: Episurveyor/Magpi, FormhubSouktel, EMIT, uReport, TexttoChange, RapidSMS, GeoPoll, iFormbuilder, PoiMapper, Catholic Relief Services, DAI, NASA, OpenDataKit at UW, SweetLab, JSI, ICF International, Tangerine at RTI, Futures Group. The course will be delivered on TechChange‘s custom learning platform and will include a mixture of presentations by experts, tool demonstrations, selected readings, and activities including designing and analysing a survey using mobile software.

This closed course is intended specifically for USAID and its implementing partners. But if are you interested in learning with TechChange and the topic of mobile data, Check out our upcoming course on Mobile Phones for International Development. Class starts on March 4, 2013. Apply now!

[UPDATE: Course rescheduled for April 8th, 2013]

We’re very sorry to inform you that we are rescheduling the Digital Organizing and Open Government course that was originally scheduled to begin on this Monday, January 7. If you have already paid for a seat in the course, we will (of course) refund your tuition in full if you so desire, or we will hold your spot in the rescheduled course as well as offering you a complimentary seat in our upcoming course: Tech Tools and Skills for Emergency ManagementThe reason for this unexpected schedule change at such a late date is that the Lead Facilitator, Christopher Neu, dislocated his shoulder and will be unable to type for several weeks. Rather than find a last-minute replacement, we opted instead to offer the course at a later date with the original experience intact. We apologize for any inconvenience and still hope to see you in class!



We’re excited about starting class on January 7th! We’ve already received applications from Senegal, Italy, Egypt, Spain, Cameroon, Kenya, Sweden, Haiti, India, UK, and more. However, we’ve had a number of questions about the course format, content, experts, and exercises that we wanted to address in more detail. Please let us know if this helps!


We’ve designed our courses specifically to combine self-paced multimedia content with real-time video engagement with experts. We have also included hands-on exercises to get you familiar with the tools under discussion under guidance from our staff. Courses are expected to take 5-9 hours per week of effort with a minimum of one real-time interaction, but can also be completed up to three months after the end of live courses. Broadly speaking, these are the themes that will be discussed during the four weeks of the course:

  • Week 1: Introduction to Core Themes (Jan. 7)
  • Week 2: Tech Tools for Digital Organizing (Jan. 14)
  • Week 3: Tech Tools for Open Gov and Open Data (US) (Jan. 21)
  • Week 4: Final Project–Toward Global Open Government (Jan. 28)


Part of the course revolves around reading the latest research and discussing as a class. To that effect, we’ll be exploring the latest research from leading experts on “liberation technologies” such as Patrick Meier; crowd-sourced manuals (including one of our favorite: The Outsider’s Guide to Supporting Nonviolent Resistance to Dictatorship); and other videos, blog posts, and academic research. We try to balance the readings to contribute to expert discussions so that participants can dive deeper into core content in their field.


We’re excited about the broad panel of experts that we’ve lined up to hold live class discussions via video over the four weeks.

  • Kaushal Jhalla of the World Bank will be speaking about the challenges and potential of big data and development
  • Jordan Menzel of CrowdHall on the topic of using technology for public engagement and accountable government
  • Linda Raftree of Plan International, USA on open data and community engagement
  • Wayne Burke of the Open Forum Foundation on building sustainable communities around open government.


Moving beyond content and experts, we’ve designed hands-on exercises for each week of the course to familiarize students with the tools under discussion.

  • Week 1: Explore application of social media tools with guides from including Twitter and other social media.
  • Week 2: Public access tools such as CrowdHall to be used for engaging public figures in dialogue.
  • Week 3: Domestic/US-oriented open gov resources from Sunlight Labs including Open State Project, Stream Congress, and ClearSpending.
  • Week 4: International final project exploring open government in your home country: How can you get involved?


We hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any other questions by leaving a comment, tweeting @techchange, or sending an email to chris [at] Thanks!

Yesterday, the World Bank brought together leading technologists, data gurus and development practitioners for a whirlwind group brainstorming activity about their soon to be open Apps for Development contest. The contest aims to find the best application of the data sets released by the bank as part of their Open Data initiative. Along with group sessions to identify potential uses across a number of sectors, participants had the opportunity to hear from technology “Obi-Wan” Tim O’Reilly, Health and Human Services CTO Todd Park, and World Bank Africa Region Chief Economist Shantayanan Devarajan.​
/>The competition is part of a broader movement at the bank to share the research they collect with policy makers in and out of government as well as social entrepreneurs. Tim O’Reilly took aim at the trend of using data for visualization, calling it “useful for data wonks” but saying the  need was to “build for a real person who is trying to solve a problem.” Visualization works for aggregate level analysis but for the individual user the important issue is accessing “the smallest unit of data” that can help improve their life.