AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Sep/16

15

Aditi Patel on Technology for Evaluation in Fragile and Conflict Affected States: An Introduction for the Digital Immigrant Evaluator

Are you an experienced evaluator who thinks technology could help your work, but have no idea where to begin? I’m Aditi Patel, a recent graduate of the Fletcher School of Tufts University, where I worked with Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church to understand how seasoned evaluators–such as you, the AEA blog reader!–can think about where and how technology fits into evaluations in conflict contexts.

There are lots of evaluators out there who are digital natives and completely comfortable with technology, or digital immigrants who have learned how to be so. However, there are also seasoned evaluators who are digital refugees: experts in their field who are being forced to adopt technology, without a clear sense of what it is or what potential it holds for their evaluations. We intend for this paper to help them get started on their technological journey.

Lessons Learned:

  • Technology for evaluations doesn’t stop at the evaluation design stage! A lot of “how-to” guides focus on using technology for data collection, but there is great potential for using technology to help achieve the evaluation purpose (such as enhancing accountability or capacity-building), driving evaluation use, and assisting in evaluation management.
  • The AEA Guiding Principles can provide a handy framework for ensuring that the use of technology in an evaluation is held to the highest professional standards–technology can be a tool to help drive evaluation good practice.
  • Before using technology in your evaluation, this five-step “filter” can help an evaluator decide if it’s suitable. The decision filter establishes a process by which evaluators can discern when and how to integrate technology into program evaluations in a manner that increases effectiveness and efficiency of the process, while still being conflict-sensitive. This filter acknowledges that technology can very rarely serve as a stand-alone solution to common evaluation challenges. Nor will it replace strong research and evaluation skills; used correctly, though, it has great potential to strengthen evaluations in conflict contexts.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

 

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