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Hello MECPU,

Thank you for the comment and the question! In our US deployment it is very easy for end users to provide feedback via text message (SMS). And for most (but not all) sending feedback via SMS is free or very cheap. Text messaging rates and SMS platforms have some variations when you start to deploy internationally. This is one of the reasons (among many others) that we developed our web-based mobile API. It is a cross-platform solution that functions like a native mobile app, but can also be used in a user's web browser. A cool part of our platform and CMS (content management system) is that we can also deliver the content via email AND push notification to a user's phone. A push notification is different from a text message in that it relies on internet connectivity.

All of which is to say - to answer your question more directly - yes, we do have a well developed system for receiving feedback from end users. We also have a robust system that leverages social networks for parents to do peer-to-peer sharing.

Happy to be a resource or answer any questions you may have about the technical details of the platform. And hopefully there will be a chance to collaborate in the near future. :-)

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Chris commented on FIRST FIVE YEARS PARENTING KIT

Hi, Thanks for sharing this feedback on what you have experienced over the years with your program that is similar to ours. We, too, experienced some of the challenges you mention.

Over the years, however, we have been able to overcome those challenges through a constant process of testing, feedback and iterating. So:
(1) Parents can easily understand almost all of our activities.
(2) Our activities are designed to be easily accessible for caregivers with low literacy levels yet still maintain rigor and adherence to the educational concept being taught and every activity fits within the 160 character limit of an SMS message. (We have also developed slightly longer-from content for our other delivery mechanisms.)
(3) All of our content is differentiated based on developmental levels of the children in their home, so parents do not need any charts or other materials other than their mobile device.
(4) And, finally, we designed our content to be time-sensitive for families. Which is to say, activities can be done in as little as 2 minutes or can be extended to be much longer when paired with content from earlier in the week.

Hopefully you are able to continue to develop your program so that you can overcome the challenges you mention. If so I'm sure it will be well worth the investment.

Achieving this goal is a process of continual user feedback (through focus groups and surveys), A/B testing, and iterating that will lead to better and better products. We've used a combination of Lean Startup principles (see here: http://theleanstartup.com/principles - this one, of course, is focused on technology-centric ventures ) and human centered design principles (see one of IDEO's resources here: http://www.ideo.com/work/human-centered-design-toolkit/ )

Good luck!

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Chris commented on FIRST FIVE YEARS PARENTING KIT

It would be great if they could be a participating partner in your proposal. I'm sure that the developers of First Five Kit have invested a lot of time, energy and other resources into making a proven and effective product and have a lot of know-how that they could contribute.

In the US we have seen the effect of not doing the proper R&D to develop a kit concept. For example, Baby Einstein was a wildly popular series of DVDs that were later debunked as having no educational/learning value for the families who watched them. (There is similar research on other early childhood media that claim to have educational impact, but in reality are just entertaining cartoons or games. You can see here for one such example: http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/publication/pioneering-literacy/ ) Sesame Street is one of the shining exemplars that is more of the exception than the rule. (Did you know that Sesame Street is the most researched TV program of all time?!) So there are examples that prove that TV programs and DVDs can have a positive impact. And in fact, I know of at least one organization that has partnered with Sesame Street to create learning videos for students in families in Ghana (see here: http://www.idpfoundation.org/idp-rising-schools/partnership-with-sesame-workshop/ )

I speak from personal experience when I say that it takes a significant amount of time, energy and money to create a research-based digital product that will have a positive, measurable impact. For us it took over 2 years for our team to partner with an organization, identify participants for experimental groups and control groups, locate the grant money, find a participating university and a team of researchers, and many other resources just to conduct and publish the study that proves the impact we have on the lives of families who use our product. And the resources that went into conducting this study do not include the years of research and development just to create the content and technology and build up the institutional know-how to execute such a service.

I realize that the concepts may be similar, and that you're not passing off the research findings for the First Five Kit to be claims for the impact of your kit. I wanted to suggest a few of the implications of citing the research of another product and encourage you to reach out to the First Five Kit makers to try to build a partnership.

Clearly the Kit model is a great idea. It takes a lot of research and development, training, testing, and money to develop a successful intervention such as the one that First Five Kit has developed. And they have the know-how to help support you in your endeavor. Good luck!