Understanding Dharma

Dharma is an end-to-end platform that makes it easy for anyone to gather, understand, and use the information they need to work effectively - whether they're tracking classroom attendance, monitoring patient vitals, or assessing the efficacy of agricultural extension services. It's flexible, powerful, and can be used pretty much anywhere, by anyone - even if they're offline or out of network.

Dharma has two main components: the web portal, where most of the design, project management and data collection happen, and the mobile app, which lets you collect and access data. (you will soon be able to do everything in the mobile app as well!)

When you build a project in the web portal, you can create forms. Those forms are then deployed to the Dharma mobile app, where anyone you choose can access them. Once they've entered information, it's sent back to the web portal, where you can see it visualized in real time, as it comes in. From there, you can share it, export it, print it out and turn it into a hat - the sky's the limit.

First Steps

Once you've created an account, including your email username and password, just click "sign in" via dharma.ai, or visit http://app.dharmaplatform.com directly. (More information regarding Setting Up Your Account)

When you do, you'll see a map and a few projects we've added as templates. We hope these pre-populated projects help you understand what your own could look like once you've built them out.

Feel free to play around with them; make any changes you want, or if you prefer, go ahead and delete them.

To start off a new project, go ahead and click the Blue ADD PROJECT

  • Enter the project name and description, place a pin on the map of where your project is taking place and upload Project Banner Image.
  • There is an option for you to simply upload project data so that you do not have to create it manually. To use this, click on 'Drag CSV to begin project data' and upload a CSV file.
  • After this, you can select icon and icon's colors from the list and click Save.

Project Home

Dharma will then bring you to the Project Home page, which provides you with a snapshot of the project's status - members, goal, number of sites, duration, and description.

On the left sidebar, you'll see a list of project tools: Forms, Settings, Results, Tracking, Data and Import. Let's look at what each of these can do.

Settings  (Part 1 and Part 2 overview videos)

Clicking on Settings allows you to change the parameters you see on the project's home page. You can also add and organize users, add advanced results (indicators for your project), and make form changes based on the type of data you're collecting.

Project parameters page is usually the first place you'd want to go. In here you define the data structure for your project. Each structure, single point, hierarchical, and longitudinal, are all useful for different things. If you are interested in a bit more information about these data structures, and how they align with possible use cases, please visit this article - customizing parameters for project type.

Since you are just starting off, lets use the most simple one: single point, pretty much what a simple survey would use. You can just leave the parameters as default.

Lets visit the Sites tab under Project Settings next, and add a new site. For this project, you'll be doing an occupancy survey in New York. Input the name of the site and put a pin on the map to create a "New York survey". Later on, if you were to deploy this survey in different cities, you could add many more sites. At this point, you could also set a duration for the project overall or only for the New York site, restricting data collection to a specific period,  but can also do that later.

Lets see what kind of users we have in this project.

As owner and creator of this project, your name and email will appear as project administrator. Dharma user access types are very flexible. One thing you must do before you start collecting data, is add yourself as a collector to the project. There are more specific articles regarding User Roles, Assigning Collectors, and Understanding Sites, Groups, and Teams.

Forms (Part 1 and Part 2 overview videos)

Next stop is the Forms. This is where you'll create your form, survey, or data collection instrument. It's the core project building mechanism.Start off by clicking on the + icon and naming your first category.

In our example, we have denominated the first category " Main Form".  You can have as many categories as you want in your own project. 

Pro tip: Save your progress as you go.

You can now add questions, instructions, and groups within your form. For a more detailed description of all that you can do in the form builder, click here.
For now, we will just add a couple of questions, and get a simple skip-logic (groups) to simplify data collection. Just click on "add question" and describe the kind of question or form item you want. 

Add a few more and you'll have a simple survey all done!

Now hit Save Form and Push to Mobile, let's start collecting some data!

Collect Response

Move over to web data collection by clicking on the Data. Click the big green button and start getting your data into the system.

Results (overview video)

The Results page allows you to see data in real time, as well as offer a link so you can download a clean data set in multiple formats, and a report on PDF, or DOCx. To read more articles regarding results, click here

Staff Tracking (overview video)

And with the Tracking page, you can monitor your collectors' progress and check to see if there are any issues. More information on Staff Tracking is also available. 

Ready to move on? Let's check out the mobile app workflow.

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