Staff Blog

Staff Blog

Getting Schooled: Dimagi India Hosts First mEducation Roundtable

by Erin Quinn, India Field Manager

15 August 2014


On July 24 Dimagi hosted a Round Table discussion on using mobile technology in education. Representatives from 14 leading NGOs and education organizations from across India came together to collaborate and share ideas about mobile technology and its place in the education sector.

We started the conversation by talking about the numerous needs and challenges in education programming today. We quickly saw that though each organization ran separate programs, all faced similar problems, like low teacher quality, or difficulty conducting monitoring and evaluation of programs. The first half the day consisted not only of this small group discussion, but also a general overview of mEd programs and Dimagi’s open source tools. It included a demo some of our existing CommCare education applications used by organizations like UNICEF and Save the Children. We were also fortunate enough to have Rupinder Kaur of JPAL present a session on Theory of Change in M&E which helped organizations think about mobile phones as more than just a tool for dissemination.

The second half of the day allowed time for organizations to speak with each other and Dimagi facilitators about features they would like to see in future applications. Participants split into four groups based on similar use cases, and discussed how they would build and implement a sample mEd app. They outlined who the users would be, what cases they would track, and how the general workflow would go. Groups also included types of questions they would ask, and gave suggestions on how they could use the data they collected. The exercise helped organizations see what the process was in building an app, and helped everyone think about how they could take mEd tools and use them effectively in their own organizations.

Overall the Round Table was a great success. All the organizations were very interested in collaborating—both with Dimagi, and with each other—which made a great environment for discussion. The Dimagi Team was able to learn a great deal from all of the organizations about the pain points they face in running education programs, and how we can modify and build our mobile tools to better serve their needs. We look forward to collaborating more with this great group of changemakers as Dimagi continues to break into the education sector!


CommCare Gets Hitched!

by Erin Quinn, Dimagi India Field Manager

16 July 2014

SQ-and-CommCare copy

Like many girls, at a very young age, my sister and I made a pact that we would be each other’s maid of honor in our weddings. Sure we might end up being in our friend’s weddings, but we wanted to lock down at least one maid of honor position in our lifetime, and a sister seemed like the best bet. Unfortunately for my sister Sarah, when her then-boyfriend Andrew proposed, I was 8,000 miles away working in our India field office. So what do you do when you’re thousands of miles away, virtually useless for most wedding planning activities, but still want to pitch in? Well, if you work at Dimagi, you build an app. And that’s exactly what I did.

One thing that is so great about CommCare is its versatility. We can just as easily program a CommCare app to ask questions about prenatal care, school attendance, or, in this case, Sarah and Andrew’s favorite date night spot (hint: it’s a popular fro-yo place in Minneapolis). The purpose of this app was half guidebook half entertainment.

The first module had information about hotel, church, and wedding reception logistics. It also included a form on Twin Cities sightseeing, so out-of-towners could get a tailored list of cool things to do in Minneapolis/ St. Paul according to what sort of attractions they wanted to visit.

The second module consisted of a quiz about Sarah and Andrew, from childhood through engagement. Did you know that Andrew used to report himself as a lost child at events just because he liked talking to policemen? Did you know Sarah plugged her ears and cried at fireworks until high school? If you did, you’d be one of our top scorers on the Sarah & Andrew quiz! Guests submitted their quiz answers throughout the weekend, and at the end, we got to see how well family and friends knew the couple.

The third and final module was a place for people to submit their favorite pictures and videos of the day. The photographer was amazing, and got some awesome shots of everyone throughout the day. But we wanted a place where guests could send in their own favorite shots and memories of this joyous occasion. Needless to say, we got a lot of funny selfies!

All in all it was a fabulous day. Two wonderful people and their families were united in marriage, and—despite an overwhelming dearth of air conditioning—all the guests danced the night away. And for one lucky weekend, CommCare got to dress up and play junior maid of honor… all the while helping nearly 200 wedding guests.

Photos above and below by Alex Zoltai


Continuing CommCare in Togo

by Kristen Finney (MIT Student, Guest Author)

26 June 2014


This blog post was written by MIT students that are implementing a CommCare project in Togo through the organization Globe Med.  The blog post below was originally featured on MIT Globe Med’s website.  It was written as part of a blog series of Globe Med’s work using CommCare this summer, CommCare blogs, followed by another set of blogs from the original implementing group of MIT students this past spring. 

After arriving in Togo last Thursday and spending the weekend getting acquainted with the clinic, this week we began working on our CommCare project at Association Éspoir Pour Demain (AED)! To begin, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Kristen and I am a rising junior at MIT. This summer, I am spending 10 weeks in the north of Togo working with my teammates Maggie (another rising junior at MIT), Emma (a 2014 MIT graduate), and Alicia (another 2014 MIT graduate) on the roll-out of CommCare, a mobile health platform designed to facilitate the collection and transfer of patient information. We are all members of a student group called GlobeMed, a national organization that partners university chapters with health focused organizations around the world. GlobeMed fundraises for our partner throughout the year, then sends a group of students to Togo over the summer and January term to implement projects.

GlobeMed at MIT’s partner is Hope Through Health, a US-based nonprofit that supports a system of HIV clinics centered in Kara, Togo. Together, the clinics are called Association Espoir pour Demain (AED), which in French means Society of Hope for Tomorrow. AED, currently the only provider of comprehensive HIV care in the northern part of Togo, delivers treatment for ~2,000 patients and provides the surrounding community with services such as the Orphan and Vulnerable Children Program, the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission Program, and Psychosocial Counseling. AED relies in part on its Community Health Worker program to ensure every patient is receiving adequate care. Through this program, trained members of the local community act as medical liaisons—visiting patients in their homes to check-up on them, help them understand their condition and ensure that they know how to take care of themselves effectively.

Read the rest of this post…

Thank you to Holly Ladd

by Vikram, Neal, and Jonathan

25 June 2014

Holly Ladd, being diagnosed with ALS 22 months ago, passed away on June 23rd.  Holly was a pioneer in our field, a dear friend to all that was sensible, and someone we all will miss very much.

Holly was the first to believe in us, giving us our first contract ever, back in 2002. She also introduced us to Mark Shields at the CDC and together we built the early pieces of the SmartCare project in Zambia, which led to one of the largest ICT systems to support HIV patients in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Holly was also instrumental in driving for use of open source technologies, and advocating for open source within the donor community.  She was one of the forces behind the OpenRosa consortium, the playground where the JavaRosa XForm engine, now used in the majority of open source mobile technologies (including ODK, CommCare, SurveyCTO, Formhub, and others), was realized. Holly placed great value in community and wanted more recognition for the ICT interventions than herself or her organizations.  Many of our community recognized this with the creation of the Holly Ladd Pioneer Award created at last year’s MHealth Summit.

On a more personal level, Holly braved her illness as she did any challenge in her life. She confronted it with objective determination, and had her focus on her goal – to inspire tangible solutions, not sympathy. She used technology to help her communicate when her vocal muscles weakened. She underwent a risky surgery to improve her quality of life. She built another, her final community, around her illness – sharing her objective struggles and spirited accomplishments through blog post (http://hollyladd.tumblr.com/) that must have taken her hours to painstakingly compose. And she shined a light to all those around her, making jokes, remembering fond  stories, and inspiring for tangible solutions.

We can never repay what Holly has done to help our community. What we can, and will do, is work with her ideals – to foster community, seek tangible solutions, persevere against the greatest of challenges, and be good and loving beings. Thank you Holly, you have made a permanent mark on this world.

Our Company-Wide Video for Ellis “Action” Jackson!

by Gillian Javetski

24 June 2014

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 2.06.20 PM

Our CEO Jonathan Jackson & his wife Gina had their first child, Ellis “Action” Jackson!

To celebrate, all five Dimagi offices in the USA, Senegal, India, South Africa, & Mozambique made a celebratory music video, filled with choreographed dancing, Lion King re-enactments, a cat walk, and community health workers in Mozambique singing happy birthday in Portugese.


Welcome to the World, Ellis! And special thanks to everyone who made the video, especially Arya Shekar!