Open Data Kit (ODK) is a free and open-source suite of tools that allows data collection using Android mobile devices and data submission to an online server, even without an Internet connection or mobile carrier service at the time of data collection.

Streamline the data collection process with ODK Collect by replacing traditional paper forms with electronic forms that allow text, numeric data, GPS, photo, video, barcodes, and audio uploads to an online server.

Our department is encouraging all new projects where possible, to adopt electronic data capture using mobile phones or tablets.
This is because electronic data entry has the following advantages:

  1. Avoid mistakes before they happen.
  2. Did you hear the one about the 6-year-old with two children who was also his own grandmother? With a long and complex paper questionnaire, such errors can easily occur. ODK allows us to build in constraints to, for example, create automatic skip patterns or restrict the range of possible responses.
  3. Ask the right questions.
  4. Change your mind.
  5. You are able to correct mistakes and rephrasings early in the survey without the logistics of re-printing or distributing paper questionnaires.
  6. Get better answers.
  7. The use of techniques such as ACASI makes getting reliable information about socially undesirable attitudes or behaviors easier.
    Some questions are difficult to ask directly, but using a tablet allows us to easily isolate this set of questions for self-administration without worrying about having to recompile separate sheets for respondents later on. Also, this provides better protection for respondents, as their answers to these and other questions are not easily accessible to outsiders.
  8. Eliminate data entry error. Data collected on paper forms eventually needs to be digitized. While this process can be done concurrently with data collection, it is another source of error, both because of the potential for errors in the data entry program itself and by those persons responsible for entering data.

  • The work-flow for ODK is as follows:
    • The final version of a project's CRF is used to build an ODK CRF template.
      • Field level checks, skip patterns and validations as specified by the researcher, are built in to this template to aid in validating data as it is being collected.
    • Forms are then deployed on the server, and loaded onto the tablet which is then given to the field / clinic team for data collection.
    • Once data has been collected, the forms are submitted onto the MLW servers.Data is available immediately.
    • Researchers access their data using either the MLW Data Browser or by making direct data extracts using their statistical tool of choice.