ORB by mPowering: Open Source, Open Content Case Study
The mPowering Frontline Health Workers open source content platform, ORB, is an innovative and unique way to connect trainers and health workers with high-quality, relevant health training content on their mobile phones. ORB helps frontline health workers access mobile audio and video content to refresh their knowledge and share information with their clients and communities. It helps trainers create courses and training programs; and provides diagnostic tools to support health workers in their work.
ORB is the result of a collaborative approach guided by the Principles for Digital Development. More than 35 organizations worked with mPowering, helping us design and develop the platform; and 18 organizations have already shared their content with us.
ORB is an open tool. All of the code is available on GitHub, and is released under an open source license. Sharing our code means that the time and effort that went into designing ORB can now be leveraged by others to replicate the site for other health areas, for education – or for any type of training and content distribution.
Principle Six promotes investment in software as a common good. mPowering believes that open source training content is equally important. Health education materials, training resources, and job aids provide vital information and tools that have the potential to save lives.
All of ORB’s 300+ resources have been released under a Creative Commons or Public Domain license. Anyone can re-use the resources on ORB and in many cases, the content can be adapted and translated to meet local needs.
Just as open code allows others to make improvements and adaptations, Creative Commons allows others to use, translate, combine, or re-purpose existing training materials. With Creative Commons licensing, authors retain their attribution and intellectual property, and can set certain limits on how their content is used or adapted, thus ensuring the quality and integrity of the content is retained.
Re-using and adapting existing health content saves time and money. For example, since the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health training program for Health Extension Workers was released under an open license, the 16 print based modules have been adapted for use on mobile devices, translated into new languages, and further adapted for mobile training in other countries.
ORB is more than a content platform – it is also a central element in a comprehensive content distribution system. Open code and open content make it possible for any user to replicate this system using the existing technology that best meets their needs. This system allows content from ORB to be integrated into training, and distributed to large numbers of health workers. We’ve already seen the potential for this in India, Nigeria, Uganda and Pakistan.
About mPowering: mPowering Frontline Health Workers is a partnership which brings together public and private sector organizations to help improve the performance of frontline health workers, using the power of mobile technologies. Our vision is a skilled and trained health worker for every woman and child. Visit us at www.mpoweringhealth.org