Master projects in the DHIS2 Design Lab
The software used in organizations are increasingly based on generic solutions. Rather than designed according to the needs of one specific, such solutions are developed to serve markets of many organizations. The DHIS2 software platform is an example of such software. It is developed at the Department of Informatics at the University of Oslo and used by public and private organizations in more than 60 countries. For instance, DHIS2 is used for routine health data reporting, health logistics management, disease surveillance, and patient follow-up management by governments in many countries, and recently for COVID-19 reporting, including in several municipalities in Norway. DHIS2 thus needs to support the needs of many different users and use-cases – a challenge is to do this in the same generic software solution.
The DHIS2 design lab consists of researchers and master students at the Department of Informatics at the University of Oslo, working in collaboration with DHIS2 core developers and implementation specialists around the world, including India, Mozambique, Malawi, and Tanzania. In the DHIS2 design lab, we are interested in how the DHIS2 software can be designed as a generic solution, yet provide usable and relevant features to the many different users across implementations. We do not see DHIS2 as a ready-made software solution but as a platform or design infrastructure that supports the design and innovation of features according to local needs when implemented into specific user organizations (e.g., through customization of the generic solution and/ or through the development of apps). Our principal aim is to understand how user-oriented design and innovation can be facilitated and promoted by DHIS2 as a design infrastructure.
Examples of relevant topics for future master students include:
- How DHIS2 currently is, and better can support many organizations with usable and relevant features.
- What user-oriented approaches to software design are appropriate during DHIS2 implementation, and how such approaches can be promoted to implementation-specialist groups.
- How efficient development of apps for the DHIS2 platform can be better supported (e.g., SDKs, Design Systems, developer tools, competence building).
Future master students in the DHIS2 design lab can conduct traditional case studies to understand current practices and challenges, or interventionist research in collaboration with DHIS2 practitioners. The latter may involve building novel apps, design methods, guidelines, or other relevant resources that directly contributes to the DHIS2 project. The lab provides an excellent collaborative environment for students to work together to solve real-life challenges and write relevant and interesting theses. Master projects may, for instance, involve:
- Collaboration with implementation specialists in real implementation projects (e.g., in India, Mozambique, Tanzania or Malawi), to study the development, adaption, and use of user-oriented methods for design and innovation of digital tools useful to end-users.
- Study the existing design and innovation practices within the DHIS2 ecosystem and, potentially, identify and explore measures to strengthen the end-user focus during generic or implementation-level design.
- Explore how the DHIS2 (and/or other similar generic enterprise software ecosystem(s)) as design infrastructure is able to support user organizations with different practices and needs, and potential remaining organizational or technical obstacles to this.
- Study the practices related to app development, and potentially explore and develop resources that can make the development of generic or implementation-specific apps less resource-intensive (e.g., SDKs, Design Systems, learning resources). Could, for instance, involve collaborating with developers in building new apps based on end-user needs in concrete implementations of DHIS2 (potentially in combination with someone studying user-oriented methods for design and innovation).
If you find the topic interesting and want to discuss a potential master project that, in some way, relates to the focus of the lab, send an email to Magnus Li.