Opening Up Avenues on Open Data: ODK Training for HERD Researchers

A three-day training programme on Open Data Kit (ODK) was held at Union House from 16 to 18 November, 2016 which was facilitated by Neil Penman and was supported by Rajeev Dhungel. There were a total of eight participants from HERD who attended the programme. Neil is an experienced trainer from Australia and is an active member of the ODK community. He is a senior technical consultant at SAMP and is also one of the developers of the SMAP platform. The SMAP consulting was founded in June 2007 as an ad-hoc collaboration between software developers at IBM and with the objective of improving the quality and quantity of public data in developing countries, specifically map data available on mobile phones.

This training sessions involved of an introductory course on open data which was facilitated by Rajeev Dhungel – ICT Manager at HERD. That was followed by a two-day advanced training course by Neil. The objective of this course was to enable the participants to be able to conduct a cell phone based assessment and to help test and analyse large scale survey data. The training session aimed to aid management of data and introduce mobile data collection tools and solutions. The sessions basically entailed about making open source and standard based tools which are easy to try, use, modify and scale.

The sessions involved demonstrations and practical exercises on creating and testing questions rather than merely understanding the context. Discussions were held about survey creation, analysis and survey management. Topics like survey editors, specifying questions, selecting questions, relevance, constraints, languages, ordinary and repeating groups, calculations, choice filters and cascading select and media were discussed in the survey creation section. Meanwhile on the analysis section, we discussed about viewing data in table, graphs, maps, images, exporting results and reports. Under survey management, topics such as users and security groups, template, projects, conducting a survey, monitoring, tracking and quality assurance were discussed.

The training sessions provided a strong foundation for further learning on ODK. ODK has eliminated the need for paper survey and significantly reduced the survey time required for data entry through the use of smartphones and other similar devices that are equipped to support the ODK software. Through this training, the participants were able to capture and instantly digitise information of a variety of formats, eliminating the need for paper questionnaire survey and data entry. The training was really helpful in understanding about preparing a digitally programmed questionnaires, facilitating intense monitoring of the collection process and gathering of data immediately after survey into a pre-specified format prepared for analysis. 

View of the Participants

Sumedha Rajbanshi, Research Officer: The training sessions proved to be highly fruitful, and I came away with a good amount of new knowledge and understanding of SMAP and ODK. I certainly believe what I have learned will help me in my work at HERD. I feel I will be more efficient and effective in executing future quantitative projects. Furthermore, it was intellectually stimulating and encouraging to be able to discuss aspects of SMAP with the actual creator of the platform (Neil Penman).

Subash Gajurel, Data Management Officer: I believe that this training was fruitful because we learned some new functions and important facts about ODK which will be a huge support to me in achieving effectiveness and maintain quality working in the data team. Also the real time monitoring can be done more effectively in order to track of the status of the study. Unlike before, matching the same person several times in a panel survey has become easy through the ODK. Now we will be able to track the same person for different time periods systematically using the advanced functions of ODK. This training also provided me with insights on electronic data entry and understanding on capturing data for household roaster and analysis of the data. The quality of the data will improve in the near future because of the understanding of the advance logical check and also the database can be designed more effectively though several forms can created in a short span of time.

Bipul Lamichhane – Assistant Officer, Research and Communications: Good enumeration is the backbone of any survey. Having attended the training sessions, I gained an understanding about how digital surveys can be done and learned about the effectiveness and efficiency of adopting to an electronic tool for data collection, management and analysis. I learned how ODK is a suite of tools that allows data collection using android mobile devices and data submission to an online server, even without an internet connection or mobile carrier services at the time of data collection that helps to increase the reliability and validity of survey.



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