Over one month ago I didn't think that I will be back in my former university as a graduate assistant and a volunteer intern at African Maths Initiative. It has been an exciting and a great learning opportunity for me. Spending time with the students has made me learn a number of things. This should be another days story though.
That said, one of my initial tasks was to introduce Development Studies students to Open Data Kit (ODK) which was developed by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. It is basically a free and open source set of tools used for collecting and managing data in low resource environments. It runs on android powered phones and has three primary tools build, create and aggregate. ODK build allows the user to build simple forms in XML format that are then saved onto a phones memory to be taken into the field to gather data. ODK collect allows data to be collected on a mobile device and sent to a server through WIFI or mobile Internet connection. ODK aggregate manages the collected data and makes visual representations of the collected data by using simple graphs and maps. Basically ODK promptly digitizes data for analysis , allows for remote monitoring of the collection process , and facilitates the gathering of data , eliminating the need for paper surveys (White 2013).
During the first session we extensively discussed about the limitations and challenges of using paper surveys over this revolutionary method. Indeed students who had their internships as field officers in the last months highlighted challenges such as time, financial, human error in the process of data collection and data entry. Therefore ODK has an amazing way of evading this challenges because it takes less time to collect and aggregate the data and thus saving resources that can now be channeled to other development activities.
However, there is still need to conduct more training lessons to students , researchers and organizations on how to make good use of this revolutionary android technology. By adopting this we shall have made bigger steps towards in making research simpler and thus accelerating the processes of economic development which are usually in a big extent reliant on research findings on different projects and programs.