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Posts Tagged ‘advice’

Some of the top organizations and corporations working in the mobile technology and health space will gather December 5–7 at the  mHealth Summit near Washington, D.C. The summit program offers several tracks and a wide range of sessions and  exhibits  for  just  about  anyone interested in mobile technology and health.

A few months back, James Bon Tempo and I came up with the idea to co-host a “Reality Booth” at the Summit.

Innovative business models are great. New behavior change communication technologies open huge opportunities. Mobile tools to help health professionals build capacity to improve healthcare systems sound like a dream come true. But what happens during implementation? What are the real life barriers and challenges that practitioners face when implementing programs with an mHealth component? Where can you get some honest answers?

The Reality Booth is a place for practitioners working in rural settings or implementing programs in ‘developing’ countries to connect with others working in similar situations and facing comparable challenges. It offers a space to share and learn from peers who implement mHealth programs on the ground and to get advice on resolving the kinds of difficulties that probably won’t be highlighted during the official presentations.

We’ve invited some of the most respected mHealth practitioners to attend the booth for an hour or 2, and are pleased to mention that we’ll have some fantastic folks joining us. (We’re filling our last few remaining slots, so stop by booth number 131 for the full schedule on Monday!)

Come and share your mHealth reality stories, ask your implementation questions and get some practical or strategic advice from:

Monday, Dec 5

11:15-12                Isaac Holeman

12-1                        Heather La Garde

1-2                          David Isaak

2-3.15                      David Cantor

4.30-5.30              Pamela Riley

Tuesday, Dec 6

2-3.30                   David Cantor

3.30-5                   Neal Lesh

Wednesday, Dec 7

10-11                     David Isaak

We’re also planning to make a short video on ‘mHealth Realities,’ so stop on by if you have a ‘reality story’ to share.

The Reality Booth is co-hosted by MCHIP, USAID’s flagship maternal, newborn and child health program, and Plan International USA, one of the oldest and largest children’s development organizations in the world, and co-coordinated by James BonTempo of Jhpiego and Linda Raftree of Plan International USA. Contact James (JBonTempo@jhpiego.net) or Linda (Linda.Raftree@planusa.org) for more information.

In addition to the Reality Booth, we’re hosting ICT4Drinks at Thai  Pavilion from 5.30-7.30 on Tuesday, December 6. Meet and mingle with your fellow mHealth practitioners! Free drinks for the first folks in the door and fantastic Thai munchies for everyone!

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Plan just released a new report called ICT Enabled Development: Using ICT strategically to support Plan’s work. The report is part of an on-going process by Plan Finland (kudos to Mika Valitalo for leading the process) in collaboration with Plan USA to support Plan’s country offices in Africa to use ICTs strategically and effectively in their development work. It was written by Hannah Beardon and builds on the Mobiles for Development Guide that Plan Finland produced (also written by Hannah) in 2009.

The idea for the report came out of our work with staff and communities, and the sense that we needed to better understand and document the ICT4D context in the different countries where we are working. Country offices wanted to strengthen their capacities to strategically incorporate ICTs into their work and to ensure that any fund-raising efforts for ICTs were stemming from real needs and interest from the ground. Plan offices were also in the process of updating their long-term strategic plans and wanted to think through how and where they could incorporate ICTs in their work internally and with communities.

The process for creating the report included 2-day workshops with staff in 5 countries, using a methodology that Mika, Hannah and I put together. We created a set of ICT training materials and discussion questions and used a ‘distance-learning’ process, working with a point person in each office who planned and carried out the workshop. Mika and I supported via Skype and email.

Hannah researched existing reports and initiatives by participating offices to find evidence and examples of ICT use. She also held phone or skype conversations with key staff at the country and regional levels around their ICT use, needs and challenges, and pulled together information on the national ICT context for each country.

The first section of the report explains the concept of ‘ICT enabled development’ and why it is important for Plan and other development organizations to take on board. “With so many ICT tools and applications now available, the job of a development organization is no longer to compensate for lack of access but to find innovative and effective ways of putting the tools to development ends. This means not only developing separate projects to install ICTs in under-served communities, but looking at key development challenges and needs with an ICT eye, asking ‘how could ICTs help to overcome this problem’?

Drawing on the research, conversations, workshop input and feedback from staff, and documented experience using ICTs in Plan’s work, Hannah created a checklist with 10 key areas to think about when planning ICT-enabled development efforts.

  1. Context Analysis: what is happening with ICT (for development) in the country or region?
  2. Defining the need: what problems can ICT help overcome? what opportunities can it create?
  3. Choosing a strategy: what kind of ICT4D is needed? direct? internal? strategic?
  4. Undertaking a participatory communications assessment: who will benefit from this use of ICT and how?
  5. Choosing the technology: what ICTs/applications are available to meet this need or goal?
  6. Adjusting the content: can people understand and use the information provided for and by the ICTs?
  7. Building and using capacity: what kind of support will people need to use and benefit from the ICT, and to innovate around it?
  8. Monitoring progress: how do you know if the ICT is helping meet the development goal or need?
  9. Keeping it going: how can you manage risks and keep up with changes?
  10. Learning from each other: what has been done before, and what have you learned that others could use?

The checklist helps to ensure that ICT use is linked to real development needs and priorities and appropriate for those who are participating in an initiative or a project. The report elaborates on the 10 key areas with detailed observations, learning and examples to illustrate them and to help orient others who are working on similar initiatives. It places the checklist into a 4-stage process for ICT integration.

  1. Understanding the context for ICT work: includes external context and internal experience and capacity
  2. Finding a match between priorities and possibilities: rooting the system in local needs and priorities and finding good uses for tools and applications
  3. Planning and implementing concrete initiatives: carrying out participatory assessments, linking to other development processes and addressing technical issues and concerns
  4. Building a culture of systematic, sustained and strategic use of ICTs: linking ICTs with program work, transforming the role of ‘the ICT guy’, and building expertise on the cultural and social aspects of ICT use

Additional material and case studies, ICT country briefings, and an overview of Plan’s current work with ICT4D in Africa are offered at the end of the report.

The report includes input from Plan staff in Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal and Uganda who participated in the ICT4D workshops. It also draws heavily on some of the work that Mika has been doing in Finland and Kenya, and work that I’ve been involved in and have written about in Mali, Cameroon, Mozambique, Ghana, Benin and Kenya involving staff, community members and community youth. You can contact Mika to get the workshop methodology in French or English or to comment on the report (ict4d [at] plan [dot] fi).

There’s so much rich material in the report that I almost want to summarize the whole thing here on my blog, section by section, so that people will take the time to read it…  I think this is a really important and useful piece of work and we’re very excited that it’s now available! Download it here.

Related posts on Wait… What?

ICT4D in Uganda: ICT does not equal computers

Demystifying Internet (Ghana)

It’s all part of the ICT jigsaw: Plan Mozambique ICT4D workshops

A positively brilliant ICT4D workshop in Kwale, Kenya

7 or more questions to ask before adding ICTs (Benin)

A catalyst for positive change (Cameroon)

Salim’s ICT advice part 1: consider both process and passion (Kenya)

Salim’s ICT advice part 2: innovate but keep it real (Kenya)

Meeting in the middle

I and C, then T (US)

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