CommCare in the Classroom: Teaching Real World Digital Skills for Global Development
CommCare brings digital health to life in university classrooms around the world.
For the past 20 years, Dimagi has been committed to our vision of a world in which all people receive the services they need to thrive. To further our vision, we’ve been working with universities around the world to help equip the next generation of global health and development leaders with valuable, real-world digital skills for generating new knowledge from frontline research, or deploying programmatic interventions at scale.
We are particularly excited to have just collaborated, for the third year in a row, with Dr. Amit Chandra –– an emergency physician and global health policy specialist. Amongst his many roles, Amit co-teaches a course on “Disruptive Technology for Global Health” at Georgetown University with Dr. Jacqueline Firth. His students are primarily enrolled in the university’s Masters in Global Health program at the School of Health or Master in Public Policy program at the School of Foreign Service. To bring digital health to life and enhance student learning, Amit and Jacquie supplement the course with an mHealth workshop co-led by Ryan Littman-Quinn –– another long-time Dimagi collaborator –– and Dimagi’s very own Dev More, VP of Product, SaaS.
The workshop is an important opportunity for students to appreciate how digital public health goods can be designed and deployed to address global health challenges. During the 4-hour session, students are not only introduced to no-code app building and CommCare, but also develop their own functional mHealth prototypes –– each team is probed to take into consideration their specific use cases and goals (i.e. improve access, quality, or efficiency of a health service) as well as the local contexts in which their apps might be deployed.
The workshop empowers students with the ability to craft real digital health solutions –– designing, building and deploying comprehensive apps and digital solutions without coding experience. As Elaina Faust, a former student and current Senior Partnerships Manager at Dimagi reflects, “It is rare (and very valuable, in my opinion) as a student, to have the opportunity to practice creating a prototype rather than just talking through the concept of user-centered design or reading about it.”
While many students in the class already work in the global health sector at major NGOs, this may be their first opportunity to design and deploy a digital solution –– a valuable takeaway, whether it be for their current roles or the future job market.
Even though the workshop is a mere four 4 long, students are able to really “get their hands dirty” and build a functioning product. As Elaina observes: “I was really impressed and inspired to see how quickly the other students picked up app-building and how intuitive the app-builder was… [even] for my classmates who were brand new to CommCare.” Later in the semester, the student’s prototypes are used during subsequent workshops on UI/UX & human centered design, all of which culminates in an exciting “pitch” competition.
Overall, this course explores and brings to life the exciting potential of digital solutions to solve global health challenges –– even in the hands of those of us with no technical experience! Thank you again to Amit, Ryan and Dev for another exciting workshop!
More about CommCare in the Classroom:
Dimagi has been fortunate to work with other universities including Boston College, Boston University, Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill, Notre Dame and the University of Turin amongst others to bring CommCare into their classrooms. It’s been a privilege and great learning experience for us to collaborate with professors and students, in a wide range of courses from Intro to Social Impact, through to sophisticated MPH courses on Designing and Implementing Global Digital Health Interventions.
Until now, we’ve done this purely by word-of-mouth, which is why we are excited to officially launch our CommCare in the Classroom information page, to more effectively reach students and teachers interested in enhancing their academic experiences with a proven and evidenced-backed global good. If you would like to learn more, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out our new page!
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