HKHC Community Dashboard: Design, Development, and Function of a Web-Based Performance Monitoring System

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Background:As part of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC) national grant program, a technical assistance team designed the HKHC Community Dashboard, an online progress documentation and networking system. The Dashboard was central to HKHC's multimethod program evaluation and became a communication interface for grantees and technical assistance providers.Methods:The Dashboard was designed through an iterative process of identifying needs and priorities; designing the user experience, technical development, and usability testing; and applying visual design. The system was created with an open-source content management system and support for building an online community of users. The site developer trained technical assistance providers at the national program office and evaluators, who subsequently trained all 49 grantees. Evaluators provided support for Dashboard users and populated the site with the bulk of its uploaded tools and resource documents. The system tracked progress through an interactive work plan template, regular documentation by local staff and partners, and data coding and analysis by the evaluation team. Other features included the ability to broadcast information to Dashboard users via e-mail, event calendars, discussion forums, private messaging, a resource clearinghouse, a technical assistance diary, and real-time progress reports.Results:The average number of Dashboard posts was 694 per grantee during the grant period. Technical assistance providers and grantees uploaded a total of 1304 resource documents. The Dashboard functions with the highest grantee satisfaction were its interfaces for sharing and progress documentation. A majority of Dashboard users (69%) indicated a preference for continued access to the Dashboard's uploaded resource documents.Conclusions:The Dashboard was a useful and innovative tool for participatory evaluation of a large national grant program. While progress documentation added some burden to local project staff, the system proved to be a useful resource-sharing technology.

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