As NGOs promote life-improving technologies: better training and support can help them spread faster
From HIV self-testing to solar electrification and water filtration, NGOs are driving the introduction of life-saving technologies in the places where they are needed most.
Some of these technologies – like water filtration straws and inflatable solar-powered lamps – are beautifully simple, and can be handed to schoolchildren or displaced families with less than a minute of explanation. However, other lifesaving technologies are only useful in the hands of an adequately trained volunteer or medical professional.
So, how can NGOs ensure that all these innovative technologies come with an adequate degree of readily accessible training and user support?
Focus on providing “point of use” training and support. Sometimes, users of a new technology can’t wait until your NGO holds its next training workshop in their country. Other times, if someone attends a training workshop, they might forget everything before they get a chance to use it. In both cases, the solution is to provide as much “point of use” support as possible, whether that’s on-demand video tutorials, better instructions on packaging or an on-screen help popup for a software application.
Make self-service training and support resources mobile-friendly and downloadable, so users can carry them into the field. Remember that “on demand” does not always equal “online”. If the technology you’re promoting is used by workers or clients in the field, then you might want to distribute it in a format where it can be downloaded to someone’s mobile device for easy access in the field, even in places where reliable internet connectivity is unavailable.
In addition to creating training and support resources for the technology, be sure to develop educational materials about the technology for donors, government partners and other stakeholders, to accelerate adoption. Your end users will never see these technologies unless donors and implementation partners buy into their benefits. To this end, it can be very helpful to create educational (even sales-like) materials that explain the technology at a very high level, to help communicate the value to decision-makers.