TechChange and TextIt

Ever since TextIt publicly launched (has it really been four months already?), we've created some wonderful partnerships with many different organizations around the world. Today I just want to give a quick shout out to our friends over at TechChange. If you haven't heard about them, you will soon, especially if you work in international development. We've been privy to a great many technology initiatives in the developing world, some good, some not so good, and seeing something like TechChange show up to meet a very important need is refreshing.

For the uninitiated, following in the spirit of online courses like Khan Academy, Udacity, and Coursera, Nick Martin co-founded TechChange to explore online courses for those who aspire to do social good with technology. In their own words:

TechChange provides scalable and interactive technology training for social change. We deliver online certificate courses to individuals, build customized courses and learning experiences for organizations, and strengthen technology-enabled communities of practice.

All too often in the developing world there isn't enough knowledge transfer, especially when it comes to sharing what doesn't work. I'm really excited that an organization like TechChange has cropped up -- with an explicit aim to help teach best practices for these sorts of programs. I'm confident they will go a long way toward discouraging projects based around technology simply for technology's sake.

At TextIt, we often talk of "people problems" instead of technology problems, which I go into more detail in the video below. Our tool removes the technical hurdles so you can focus on the hard problems in development. How do you engage your audience? What are the incentives? What value are you truly bringing to your target audience? Technology often is not required to solve these problems. TechChange gets this and helps guide folks so they can make informed decisions on when to apply technology, and more importantly, when not to. And if they do, what is the best technology and tool for the job.

Using TextIt for mHealth

This morning I had the privilege to speak at a TechChange session from here at kLab. The session was focused around mHealth and how TextIt can be used as a flexible tool for implementing a variety of proven interventions using SMS or IVR systems. TechChange brought in over 90 people in 30 different countries to hear what I had to say in a live Q&A format. What's better is they've shared our 60 minute session publicly so even those not enrolled in the course can benefit from it after the live event.

Creating a platform for these sorts of dialogues is extremely valuable and so very important. I wish them continued success as their online courses gain even more traction and I would encourage anybody working in the sector who hasn't yet, to check them out.