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Technical Assistance for Today: Abt’s Digital Approach

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Throughout our 50-year history, Abt has served as a trusted source of technical assistance for clients in the U.S. and abroad. Agencies aligned with our mission to improve the quality of life and economic well-being of people worldwide have enlisted us to provide expertise and build capacity of individuals, organizations, and governmental institutions in order to improve the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of their programs, research, services, products, and systems. We are uniquely positioned to deliver high quality technical assistance reinforced by our capabilities in research, evaluation, data capture and surveys, implementation, and digital technologies. Our expertise spans diverse issues including health, education, the environment, and workforce and economic mobility. Over the years, our work has evolved to including digital delivery of technical assistance. With digital technologies, Abt reaches geographically dispersed audiences, allows for individualized pace setting, and reduces the amount of expert personnel time needed.

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Methods

We understand that transitioning from analog technical assistance to digital is more than just using a technology platform. A move to digital technical assistance requires a user-centered approach that tailors the learning experience based on how the audience learns in a way that translates to action. The success of our work demonstrates Abt’s ability to effectively deploy the right staff with the right methods to deliver highly technical information and address the needs of clients and technical assistance recipients.

  • Abt matches technology solutions with the needs and preferences of the audience (or users), offering everything from rich, dynamic content on a desktop experience, to mobile and offline solutions where bandwidth can be limited (or non-existent) or costly.

  • Abt provides dynamic features for online learning, including white-boarding, flipbook-style pages, scrolling features for self-paced or instructor-led learning, interactive quizzes, audio clips, and video segments that add versatility to the digital learning experience.

  • Abt delivers evidence online through clearinghouses to ensure individuals and organizations have access to the information they need to make informed decisions and build knowledge and skills based on the best evidence and data available.

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Relevant Expertise

Increasing Access to Evidence through Online Clearinghouses

Client: U.S. Department of Education

Through the What Works Clearinghouse: Postsecondary Education and Postsecondary Preparation Evidence Reporting (WWC-PEPPER) project, Abt delivers evidence online on the best way to prepare the nation’s 14 million high school students for college. Under a five-year contract with the U.S. Department of Education, we filtered and reviewed evidence from more than 50,000 research studies and then communicated findings to teachers, administrators and policymakers through the online TA tool. The Abt team accomplished this while also maintaining a commitment to rigorous standards and high quality research such that the online tool is a go-to resource for a wide array of postsecondary stakeholders and can be used for the development and scale-up of postsecondary interventions.

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Connecting Service Providers to Technical Assistance through an Online TA Marketplace

Client: Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Abt supports MassHealth’s efforts to build the capacity of the state’s Medicaid Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and related behavioral health and long-term services through the implementation and management of the Massachusetts Payment Reform Technical Assistance Program. Abt created and manages the MassHealth TA Marketplace, an online platform that facilitates participant engagement with TA provider organizations. The Abt team identified likely TA needs and procured expert vendor organizations to provide direct TA services to program participants. Participants use the TA Marketplace to connect with the vendor organizations to source TA support, access a resource center, and provide feedback about the progress of their TA engagements through a reporting portal.

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Reinforcing In-Person Training with Audio Job Aides

Client: United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Abt’s Sustaining Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) Plus project is addressing Nigeria's unmet need for contraception by building the capacity of providers to deliver quality family planning services. The program focuses not only on technical training but works to improve how post-training support ensures providers attain and maintain quality service delivery. As the program’s providers work in challenging infrastructural environments, they have limited support or supervision from outside their facilities. To address this challenge, Abt worked with trained family planning providers and trainers to identify knowledge gaps and design audio messages that would reinforce providers’ in-person training. The audio job aids consist of 38 messages on six different content areas that providers can access on-demand using their cell phones. Providers also receive a series of text messages with quizzes that are sent out twice a week by SHOPS Plus. 

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Innovative and Self-Guided Online TA Products

Client: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

In 2014, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Block Grant Assistance recognized the need to reinforce the flexible ways Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds can be used to address community needs. The Abt team worked with HUD’s Broadcast Studio staff to develop a series of innovative online TA products on a variety of CDBG-related topics. Abt created video tutorials and project profiles that explain the CDBG program, share best practices, inspire new approaches to using the program, and teach how to plan, design, and implement CDBG program activities related to housing, infrastructure, and public services. Abt also created the CDBG Multimedia Scrapbook, a self-guided learning resource that illustrates stories of individuals and communities that have benefited from a CDBG-funded project. The tool includes a variety of interactive content, including infographics that communicate program impacts and make data more accessible to the target audience.

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Contact Us

Headshot_Phyllis%20Jones Changa

Ann Loeffler

Principal Associate
Division of Health and Environment
Cambridge, MA
(617) 520-2309
Ann_Loeffler@abtassoc.com

Headshot_Rebecca_Fink

Micah Sorum

Analyst
International Development
Rockville, MD
(301) 347-5050
Micah_Sorum@abtassoc.com

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Gabriel Krieshok

Associate/Scientist
Data Science, Surveys & Enabling Technologies
Rockville, MD
(301) 347-5455
Gabriel_Krieshok@abtassoc.com

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