Our ODK Training Experience (Materials Included)

by | October 20, 2011
Category: Blog

NOTE TO THE READER: This post serves as a follow up to and elaboration on our first training post. That post, while titled ”Introduction to AfSIS Enumerator Training,” served as an introduction to our project more generally. We hope this post answers more of your questions about our training. We also hope that you find the training materials included at the end of this post to be both interesting and useful for your work.

Enumerators are the backbone of any survey. Good enumerators can take a poorly written survey, bad logistical plans, or an organization’s stressed relationship with the community, and turn it around. In the same vein, bad enumerators negate all the benefits that come from good writing, planning, and community outreach. They are the face of the organization to communities where we work, and consequently, the proper selection and training of enumerators is incredibly important.

In this post we will discuss our enumerator training, the lessons we learned from it, and share the training documents we generated.

The purpose of our training was to prepare five enumerators for our agriculture survey that used Android OS smartphones and a variety of widgets and apps. By the end of the training we wanted all five enumerators to:

Who was involved?

Our enumerator training lasted for four days. The training was originally scheduled to last 2 days, but we quickly realized that it would take longer than we expected.  Ultimately we spent two days covering the material, and another two days practicing the survey, navigation, and area measurement procedures outside of the office.

The training took longer than we expected because:

  1. The enumerators had even less technical experience (using smartphones, QWERTY keyboards, maps, etc.) than we expected.
  2. We did not appreciate the complexity of the procedures required for our survey.
  3. We did not want the enumerators to begin conducting surveys with farmers until they felt comfortable with the technology.

Topics Covered

Lessons Learned
Keep your training schedule flexible. Enumerators will pick up some topics faster than expected, and other topics will take longer. If the schedule is set in stone, the enumerators will be bored at times and unprepared at others.

Empower enumerators to teach each other. Observe which people are the fast learners and encourage them to help guide the others, especially during practice drills.  The quick learners will appreciate the recognition, and those having trouble might learn better from their fellow enumerators.

Maintain a positive perspective. Training enumerators to use new technology can be very stressful for both the trainer and enumerator. Enumerators can feel very vulnerable, inexperienced, and discouraged when faced with something so different; therefore, it is very important for the trainer to stay positive. It is a good idea to emphasize how much the enumerators have learned instead of focusing on how many procedures and how much material is remaining.

Remember that the Android operating system is not always intuitive. There are aspects of Android that are not immediately obvious or logical. If you have grown up with a computer, you work around these issues with little thought. It pays to be aware of them when training enumerators with very little computer literacy. (See our post on Android for more)

Develop step-by-step paper guidelines for your more complex procedures. By creating a sheet of paper that explains the steps to a procedure one by one, you are providing the enumerator not only with a cheat sheet for the field but also a study tool during the training. Whenever an enumerator gets lost, they can just reference the sheet. We developed two of these, one on general procedures and another on using Locus Free.

Documents Used

N.B. In preparing for the training, we drew on many of the excellent and extensive ODK training resources already available online, notably, the guides developed by the UC Berkeley Human Rights Center and  ehealthNigeria.

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