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

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Greetings from Canada! My name is Chi Yan Lam (@chiyanlam) and I am a PhD student working in the areas of educational assessment and program evaluation at Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario. You are probably already familiar with legitimate uses of Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook in relation to evaluation learning, but have you thought about augmenting your personal learning network to other social media platforms?

In today’s connected learning environments, professional development is no longer confined to traditional codified sources of knowledge, such as peer-reviewed journals or conference workshops. Social media can inform your professional development by facilitating communications with those within and outside of your immediate network, connecting you to those evaluators who share your interests, and allowing you to create and share your learning with others. Augmenting your personal learning network with online resources can be tremendously valuable and rewarding.

Rad Resource: YouTube needs no introduction and, boy, is it a hidden treasure trove of evaluation resources. From short instructional clips to recorded lecture and talks, you can easily locate many hours of learning. Try searching for specific key word (e.g. Empowerment Evaluation; Developmental Evaluation), or for specific theorist (e.g. Michael Patton). You should also search for YouTube Channels organized by evaluation organizations (e.g. AEA; IPDET).

Rad Resource: Pinterest is the virtual equivalent to a corkboard allowing its users to ‘pin’ and collect great visuals from all over the web. Evaluators like Kylie Hutchison and others do a fabulous job of curating great, often visually interesting, resources on evaluation.

Rad Resource: Slideshare is a great repository of presentation slidedecks. Try searching for slidedecks from specific conferences (e.g. eval13) or by evaluation approaches (e.g. developmental evaluation).

Rad Resource: Attend live online PD webinars. AEA offers both their e-Study and Coffee Break series. Did you know AEA members have free access to previously recorded Coffee Break webinars! The Canadian Evaluation Society is also launching a webinar series.

One more thing…

Bonus Rad Resource: Institutions often make available lectures and debates online! For instance, take a look at the 2010 Claremont Evaluation Debate, Claremont Evaluation Center Webinar Series, or Western Michigan University’s Evaluation Café series.

Happy learning!

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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My name is Stewart Lee and I am a graduate student at Mississippi State University, as well as an independent evaluation consultant. Lately, I’ve been working with other independent consultants as well as small business owners who feel the need for web sites/blogs/and social networking sites associated with their business.

The advent of FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and the like have generated a divide in public opinion and it’s not always age related. I know many AARP members who are on Facebook daily and several 20 somethings who have never been on Facebook. Why would evaluators use social networking sites regardless of age or desire for virtual social interaction? There are several reasons I can come up with off the top of my head.

  1. Hot Tip: Social networking has some of the best FREE advertising and marketing. I had the privilege to attend Dr. Gail Barrington‘s course on independent consulting at AEA 2009, where word of mouth marketing was hailed. Social networking is almost pure word of mouth.
  2. Hot Tip: While it’s easy to see how social networking helps those with evaluation businesses, academia benefits are there too. Social network sites can provide opportunities from encouraging participation in or a form of reminders for a survey, to collaboration with geographically distant colleagues or even to gather opinions or to conduct a field trial.
  3. Hot Tip: Education is (or at least should be) an important part of our duties as evaluators. The better informed and educated about the evaluation process stakeholders are, the easier our jobs are. Social networking sites offer an easy, free, and often fun way to disseminate knowledge about evaluation and the evaluation process. In addition, the setting gives the perception of peers teaching peers which literature shows is an extremely effective method of teaching.

On one of my blogs, I often post about evaluation or statistics and present ideas in a thought-provoking or educative manner. These blog posts then get fed to several social networking sites where many people see the information and respond in an inquisitive manner.

Rad Resource: Finally, perhaps the coolest reason evaluators should get at least marginally involved in social networks is that there is a wealth of data to be had within them. Earlier this month, Sitaram Asur and Bernardo Huberman released Predicting the Future With Social Media on Kevin Kelly‘s web site. This is just one of the latest examples of how researchers are using social networking sites as a pipeline to 100′s, 1000′s, or even millions of opinions. This study highlights, as one commenter noted, the idea of Surowiecki’s rules of a wise crowd. Tapping into this kind of resource could greatly enhance an evaluation if not be a primary source of data for it.

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org.

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