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Online Documentation and Support System

Since 1990, our team has evaluated and supported local, state and national initiatives to promote community health and development. Based on this participatory research experience, we built an Online Documentation and Support System (ODSS) to help communities better understand and improve their efforts to promote community health and development.

The ODSS’s web-based capabilities help communities document and evaluate progress of their collaborative action. We have developed customized documentation and support systems with a number of communities, foundations, and government agencies in various domains. This documentation and evaluation system has helped support change efforts of dozens of local, national, and global partners.

The Online Documentation and Support System is a web-based recording, measurement, and reporting tool for community work. It helps practitioners document their work, including bringing about community and systems change (defined as new or modified programs, policies, or practices related to the group’s goals) as an intermediate outcome for population change and improvement. The ODSS also helps practitioners share their change efforts and success stories with funders and other stakeholders. Perhaps most fundamentally, the ODSS serves as a quality improvement tool to help communities reflect upon their data and make needed course adjustments.

The ODSS helps community and research partners to answer questions such as:

  • What are we accomplishing in relation to our mission and objectives?
  • Are we bringing about changes in communities and systems?
  • What was the intensity of the community/ systems changes (i.e., reach, duration, strength of strategy)?
  • What factors or processes enhance our change efforts?
  • Are community/system changes associated with improvement in community-level or population-level outcomes in health/human development?

The Online Documentation and Support System (ODSS) includes supports for: a) Documenting changes in communities and systems (e.g., new or modified programs and policies related to the effort); b) Characterizing  the type and distribution of changes, for instance by goal addressed or sector in which change occurred; c) Uncovering factors associated with increases/ decreases in the rate of change (e.g., action planning, change in leadership); d) Tracking changes in community-level indicators (e.g., rates of childhood immunizations) and their association with community/system changes; and e) Graphs and supports for systematic reflection about the initiative and its impact (i.e., what are we seeing, what does it mean, implications for adjustment).

Some features of the Online Documentation and Support System:

  • Integrated resources for monitoring and evaluation, technical support, and co-learning within and between projects
  • Customized measures and data displays for documentation and feedback
  • Direct access to evaluation information
  • Instant feedback via real-time graphs
  • Supports for participatory evaluation, sense making, and co-learning among partners

For information about obtaining a customized Online Documentation and Support System and related technical support, or to request a live demo, please contact the KU Work Group at (785) 864-0533(785) 864-0533 or email toolbox@ku.edu.