We wrote this to guide participants from the U.S. Embassy’s TechCamp Dakar workshop in how to use the technologies we discussed in the conference. By sharing this more widely, we hope to encourage agricultural NGOs to start using new technologies to expand their impact.
It is our firm belief that by using the multitude of educational (and free!) technical training resources available online, anyone, regardless of location or language, can become an expert in the use of mobile technologies.
According to the results of our TechCamp follow-up survey, participants show the highest interest in the following technologies: Frontline SMS, low-cost video, GoogleApps, and OpenStreetMap.
Many participants asked for video trainings and the majority of technical videos for these technologies are in English. However, all videos presented here are hosted on YouTube and thus can be watched with subtitles in close to 50 languages. As the official language of Senegal is French, the ability to watch all technical videos (regardless of language) is critical to the diffusion of these technologies.
The best place to get started with FrontlineSMS is the User Resources provided by FrontlineSMS. Offered here are a simple, clearly written introduction to FrontlineSMS and a quick-start guide on setting up the SMS system.
The FrontlineSMS website also offers videos, ranging from basic how-to’s to highlights of how the application is being used around the world. Especially useful for beginners is an “Introduction to FrontlineSMS” video which provides an overview of the program for new users and how to get started.
Once you have discovered the uses and basics of FrontlineSMS, it’s time to get technical.
You should start with this slideshow on installing and using Frontline SMS. It is a simple, yet thorough, step-by-step guide that uses screenshots of the actual process to help new users navigate the system. It describes the FrontlineSMS installation process, how to set up a mobile phone for use with the system, how to send and receive messages, how to manage contacts and groups, and how to use keywords to trigger actions.
To get started with using low-cost video in agricultural programming, a good place to start is with FHI360’s training guide: “Integrating Low-cost Video into Agricultural Development Projects: A Toolkit for Practitioners.”
Insight Share has published a practical guide to using participatory video projects anywhere in the world.
The best starting place to learn about OpenStreetMap (OSM) is the OSM Wiki Beginner’s Guide.
Once you’ve gotten a handle on the basics, from there you can access training how-to videos.
First, check out this three-part series by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT).
- Part 1: Getting Started: In this video, you’ll explore the website, navigate the map, search for locations, and export a map image.
- Part 2: Signing up and Making your first edits: In this video, you’ll learn how to sign up for an OpenStreetMap account and make your first edits to the map using the in-browser editor, Potlatch2.
- Part 3: Setting up Java OSM editor (JOSM): This video will teach you how to install the Java OpenStreetMap editor (JOSM) and set up preferences.
When you feel comfortable with the basics, move on to this “OSM for Beginners” video series:
From here, continue to access the videos from the OSM Wiki page according to your individual mapping needs.
We here at Code know that often, educating oneself about and beginning to use a new technology is the scariest part! That’s why we’ve compiled this list of resources for you. After checking out all this information and beginning to use these new technologies, you’ll be well on your way to being an expert yourself.
Please tell us about your successes and challenges using these technologies in the comments box below. Good luck!