Friday, 1 July 2016

This is way two MAD!

At the beginning of June a group of Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) project teams and other interested groups were brought together at a three-day Masterclass in Canberra to learn more about the powerful features of apps and how to harness them for best use in the agriculture sector.

Conor Ashleigh (left) sharing his tips-of-the-trade of story capture with Keith Antfalo, Simon Quigley and Cherise Addinsall (right). Photo: ACIAR
The class occurred as part of the second phase of the Mobile Acquired Data (MAD) evaluation, which began last year and is being commissioned by ACIAR.

Dimagi, the company that produces CommCare, has partnered in this evaluation and brought their expertise of CommCare to the MAD Masterclass. At the Masterclass they shared some examples of how their apps are used in the field of health development. Participants of the Masterclass program, were taught hints, tips and tricks to help them in the areas of fieldwork and hardware; data management; story capture; and ethical considerations.

The first phase of the evaluation, which occurred last year, answered a few fundamental questions about apps in relation to ACIAR research projects, namely:
  • Apps perform better than paper-based data collection systems
  • In the context of the pilot, the app called CommCare stood out as the most suitable
  • Technical preparation is essential to ensure a smooth implementation of the digital data collection apps
As part of MAD 2, ACIAR has been working closely with a number of research projects to scale up the evaluation and identify what level of support is required to successfully implement apps into a research project. This second phase evaluation is called MAD 2.

Getting things sync’ed up and loaded onto CommCare. Photo: ACIAR
Stay tuned over the coming months as more material is produced to help guide projects interested in adopting apps. The evaluation team is working with photo journalist and videographer Conor Ashleigh to capture the journey of these projects and their use of apps.

Thanks to Stu Higgins and Chaseley Ross (AgImpact), David McGill (University of Melbourne), Siobhan Mor (Sydney University), and Lily Olson and Anthony Connor (Dimagi) for their considerable contribution to pulling together such a great Masterclass!

By Jack Hetherington, Research Program Officer, ACIAR

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