Digital Development Training Landscape and Needs Assessment

Two Reports:

Phase 1: Discovery and Design & Phase 2: Workshop Activity Descriptions

Phase 1: Discovery and Design

Beginning on June 20, 2019, TechChange provided DIAL and Clear Outcomes with input and feedback regarding the discovery and design processes during weekly meetings, including recommending interviewees for further engagement and providing input for written reports. In addition, TechChange provided a 10-page written memo to summarize existing knowledge of the ICT4D training ecosystem, as well as insights into platform partnerships, including TechSoup and other ICT4D partners currently scaling capacity building and online training solutions. This input was given up until September 25, 2019, which was when the final report was delivered.

During this initial discovery phase, TechChange worked closely with DIAL to develop a series of activities that were deployed in a series of workshops. Clear Outcomes also attended workshops in Medellin, Washington, D.C., and Seattle for the purpose of capturing feedback and updating the final deliverable. TechChange has incorporated insights from Phase 1 into Phase 2 activities and the final report but has prioritized input and insights from workshop participants in our findings.

Phase 2: Workshop Activity Descriptions

In designing the one-day workshop, TechChange worked closely with DIAL to develop a series of modular activities to complement and extend the Clear Outcomes research findings and survey results. Locations were chosen to reflect diverse geographies. Workshops were delivered in cities with a critical mass of Digital Principles advocates to support workshop outreach and logistics. TechChange drew heavily from the design thinking discipline, using the following activities to solicit feedback in a variety of interactive and engaging formats. See the workshop agenda here.

Executive Summary (Phase 1)


This landscape study provides research-driven insights on what stakeholders want from future Principles for Digital Development (Digital Principles) training regarding content and delivery. Its objective is to determine the greatest training needs and opportunities for building capacity among digital practitioners to understand and use the Digital Principles.

Three key questions guided the research for this landscape study:

  1. What materials and trainings are currently available and/ or being used by stakeholders (users) on the Digital Principles or related digital development topics? Are there any particularly useful materials that can be used or replicated for future content?
  2. What should be included in a Digital Principles training series, and how should it be delivered and paid for?
  3. How can trainings most effectively be implemented to increase adoption and use of the Digital Principles?


The following are recommendations across all three research questions deemed most relevant to the summative presentation of this research project.

1. DIAL should review all the existing training and resource materials in order to reuse and improve content and incorporate real examples from implementers.

There is a large amount of potential content already in use that is relevant to future training development, including content on DIAL’s own website. Sector-specific case studies will be especially important to help learners grasp concepts within their own field. Local language materials should also be sought out and included. Donors are interested in and willing to engage and support the development of content.

2. DIAL should consider a blended learning approach that combines online and in-person or cohort training.

There is a compelling need for scalability as well as contextualization and tailoring of information, which can be achieved via a combination of online courses, some in-person training and a ToT approach.

3. DIAL should consider a nominal, sliding-scale fee for training to increase perceived value and engagement in the process.

Many respondents felt that training for the Digital Principles was valuable and should be priced on a sliding scale that ensures accessibility to the trainings among a wide audience. DIAL should consider producing content under a Creative Commons license to ensure access.

4. If DIAL pursues tailored training, it should focus on developing materials for at least two types of participants (donors and implementers) and consider a separate course tailored to local government participants.

There was consensus on the need for trainings for donors to address whether expectations for grantees to adhere to the Digital Principles were in any way in conflict with the reality of their funding mechanisms and procurement processes. A training for implementers should focus on the basics and tradeoffs associated with applying the Digital Principles. DIAL should also continue to try to reach local government officials to engage them in training and outreach and determine their need for a specific approach.

5. DIAL should consider developing a dashboard to help organizations visualize their level of adoption of the Digital Principles.

Because there is no incentive or requirement to train staff and no way to track or measure training, the level of adoption varies. Using training participation as one metric to measure adoption could increase both the level of adoption and the uptake of training. Tools for evaluating the use of the Digital Principles throughout an organization would be another potential approach.

6. DIAL should leverage existing opportunities for training and work with organizations that are well known in the digital training space.

Attaching training opportunities to existing digital meetings (e.g., ICT4D, MERLTech, the Digital Health Forum) could enhance opportunities for individuals likely to be trainers for their organization. DIAL should also engage with other well-known training groups in the digital space, such as TechChange, Digital Frontiers, the Digital Health Leadership program, Community Academy for Health and others. Convincing these organization to incorporate the Digital Principles into their work could serve as a scaling mechanism—increasing knowledge, acceptance and adoption of the Digital Principles.

Executive Summary (Phase 2)

Working closely with DIAL and Clear Outcomes, TechChange conducted four ideation workshops in representative stakeholder geographies to develop audience personas based on the findings of the report from Phase 1: Discovery and Design. These personas and ideation activities were used to develop recommendations for what a Digital Principles training curriculum should include, models for delivery, and target audiences. TechChange recommends:

1. In-person workshops with international donors and government officials to develop certificate standards

2. Blended training of trainers with international nongovernmental organization (INGO) project managers to tailor the content by topic and audience and generate meaningful case studies

3. On-demand training for technologists and social entrepreneurs and internal advancement through recognized certification

4. Mentorship and peer networks to connect learners of all levels and influence future certification Standards

Taken together, these recommendations represent a sustainable approach, wherein certificate standards align with donor expectations and government regulations; champions are empowered to update and deliver training for their specific organizational needs, as well as to generate case studies for future learning; eLearning certification content is made available to the general public for internal advancement and recognition; and in person and online networks of mentorship are built throughout the process to influence certification.

More work is needed to include additional stakeholders, regional partners and, particularly, government officials in developing valued courses on the Digital Principles. The intention of this landscape assessment is to provide initial insights for the development of a series of learning resources and experiences that advance the Digital Principles and support technology-enabled programs across all personas provided.

Summary of Findings

This summary of findings presents initial conclusions based on a series of four ideation workshops led by TechChange to capture best practices in supporting the knowledge and adoption of the Digital Principles.

Initial high-level insights include:

Recognized certificates are critical.
In alignment with current trends, affordable online credentials are important for incentivizing learners. The key, however, is to build demand for the credentials and the course, not just for the course itself.

Target audiences vary in how they value certification.
U.S.-based learners valued certificates less, while in Medellin and Nairobi, this was seen as central to upward mobility. A lower value on certification should be addressed through superior learning experiences.

Time and attention are the greatest constraints.
While U.S.-based donors and INGO project managers were least constrained by financial resources, time usage and competing priorities were consistently the greatest constraints across all target audiences.

Blended training bridges “old” and “new” training.
Organizations disagree regarding the value of online learning (even internal versus users) and what the best training models are. Blended learning can be a good compromise, combining both online learning and more traditional models.

More case studies are needed.
Learners and trainers represent a potential source of organizational case studies. This type of content is crucial for demonstrating the relevance of the Digital Principles within a community.