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

TAG | google

My name is Dan McDonnell and I am the Community Manager for the American Evaluation Association.

Have you ever Googled something and noticed a photo that has made its way into the search page (see fig. a)? This is a recent Google + feature called Authorship – a neat tool that allows Google + users to have their profile photo appear alongside search results for their blog posts. Not only does this create a link between your blog content and your Google + profile, but it also can increase the likelihood that someone clicks the link to your blog post via search results (by as much as 150%, by some sources), no small feat!

Google + Authorship Example

Fig. A

Here’s how it’s done. Start by opening up a new Google search session. If you’re logged into your Google account (for Gmail and all other Google properties), you’ll see a button in the upper right hand corner that says + . Click this button to visit your Google + homepage.

From here, click the drop down menu in the upper left marked ‘Home,’ and select ‘Profile,’ then ‘About.’ As you scroll down, you should see all of your profile information: the area you want is a tab labeled ‘Links.’ Click the ‘Edit’ button at the bottom of that area. Here, you can add in any blog to which you are a current contributor. If you’re a contributor to AEA365, for instance, you’ll click ‘Add Custom Link,’ and type in AEA365 under’Label,’ then ‘www.aea365.org’ under URL.

Next, if possible, under Contact Information, add in an email address on the same domain as the blog to which you contribute . For instance, if your blog lives at www.greatwidgets.org, you’ll want to add in your dmcdonnell@greatwidgets.org email address. This automates the process. Once you’ve done this, click Save. Most of the heavy lifting is done!

The next time you create a post on a blog to which you’re listed as a contributor on your Google + page, include a link to your Google + profile in the byline, and add in “rel=author” at the end of the hyperlink. This tells Google to display your Google + profile picture alongside search results that show your blog post. See the example at the bottom of this post.

So there you have it! Give it a go, and try Googling the blog post in question to see your smiling face in the search results. Congratulations on your Google + Authorship!

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.

Dan McDonnell on Google +

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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Jan/12

14

Susan Kistler on Tracking aea365 Growth

I’m Susan Kistler, the American Evaluation Association’s Executive Director, and I post each Saturday to aea365. On January 1, 2010, we started aea365 with three subscribers – myself, John LaVelle our intrepid intern responsible for overseeing aea365 startup, and a relative who shall remain unnamed but wanted to support our efforts.

In the first few months, John worked diligently on two fronts. First, he encouraged authors to contribute to aea365, knowing that the readership was low and the forum untested. I strongly encourage you to check out the aea365 archive to read some of the earliest contributions (as well as over 700 others). Second, he worked with a number of people to reach out to AEA members and nonmembers alike to encourage people to subscribe – to receive a tip-a-day right in their email boxes. And subscribe you did. Approximately a year ago, in January of 2011, I reported that by December of 2010, 1,560 people viewed aea365 via email or RSS each day. The rise in subscriptions has continued steadily in our second year.

 

Lesson Learned: We use Feedburner to track subscribership. This May 2010 post will tell you more about it if you haven’t heard of Feedburner. The chart above shows our subscribership growth from aea365’s start in January of 2010 through to the end of 2011 when we recorded 2821 aea365 subscribers on an average day.

Hot Tip: Share you [blog] data. We’re sharing here so that association colleagues may have a case example of a blog’s growth trajectory, so that our potential authors will gain an understanding of the likely size of the readership, so that we are transparent regarding aea365’s readership, and finally as an entrée to saying ‘thank you.’ Thank you to every single subscriber, for taking the time to read and learn and share (lots of posts are passed along!). And a double thank you to all of our writers, over 500 to date, who have contributed their knowledge and expertise to aea365.

Get Involved: If you are an email-based subscriber, who joined on or before December 31 of 2011, you’ll be receiving a very short survey (I promise – 5 minutes max!), asking you about how often you read aea365 and how, if at all, you have used aea365 content. For one example, stay tuned for Monday’s post from Sheila Robinson Kohn and Kankana Mukhopadhyay talking about how they have used aea365 as a teaching tool.

And, if you have an example that you would like to share with the world, consider posting it in the comments or sending me a note at susan@eval.org regarding possibly submitting it as an aea365 contribution.

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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Hello, my name is Juan Paulo Ramírez, independent consultant, sole owner of “GIS and Human Dimensions, L.L.C.” How many times have you used spreadsheets or sophisticated statistical software (i.e., SAS, SPSS) to estimate frequencies of a population and you asked yourself: is it really necessary to do this using very expensive and sophisticated software? Or, spending hours and hours cleaning up the data to make it consistent within and between records and variables? Would there be a better and more efficient way to complete these trivial and time consuming tasks? There is, and Google Refine is the answer!

Lessons learned: Google Refine is a free desktop application (not a web-service) that you install on your computer (you can download it here). Google Refine allows users to seamlessly and efficiently calculate frequencies and multi-tabulate data from large datasets (i.e., hundreds of thousands of records), along with cleaning up your data. What I found is that you learn more by trial and error with Google Refine, and discover how easy it is to get the information needed in a few steps. Google Refine has saved me days of hard work! Google Refine works with numeric, time and text data and allows you to directly work with Excel files.

The following are a few examples of how I have used Google Refine: 1) Getting demographic frequencies (i.e., gender, age) and cross tabulating it with economic variables (i.e., income) and location (i.e., county). 2) Cleaning up data that it is inconsistent, since people have sometimes answered questions without any written restrictions (i.e., lengthy responses, spelling error, blank spaces). 3) When you select a date variable, Google Refine creates a bar chart with two ends that you can adjust, dragging them with your mouse to define specific time periods. 4) If you make a mistake, Google Refine allows you to undo everything you have done!

Rad resource: There are three videos available that show the potential applications of Google Refine. You can watch them here. I watched the first video once and it was enough to convince me that this was a must have application. I started using it right away, and it became one of the most essential tools that now I use in my work.

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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I’m Shelby First, an overworked, underpaid, totally exhausted, happy with my life, graduate student. This is a companion piece to the one written by John VanDyke earlier this week, John wrote about Lifehacker, Zenhabits, and MakeUseOf – three of my favorite  sites for hacking your life by finding those little efficiencies and tools that make you more productive and more at peace, giving yourself a  you-upgrade. I want to add one more to the list and to share a great item as well.

Rad Resource – HackCollege – Where the tagline is “Work smarter, not harder.” HackCollege has a mix of articles aimed at students. Recent ones included “Friday Fun: Make Your Reheated Pizza Suck Less with These Three Techniques” and “How To Tackle Huge Projects With the Dash Method.” Their content ranges from the extremely practical (recipes) to the more academic-oriented (research guidance) to the student-specific (note taking). To use John’s categories, it is roughly 50% tech, 50% everything else.

Rad Resource – Google Search Tips – I thought that I was great at googling to find things on the web until HackCollege published the Get More Out of Google infographic guide below. I didn’t even know you could search by file type or find items only with specific phrases right in the title.

Get more out of Google
Created by: HackCollege

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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My name is Susan Kistler. I am the American Evaluation Association’s Executive Director and I contribute each Saturday’s aea365 post. At AEA’s annual conference in Anaheim earlier this month LaMarcus Bolton and I gave a demonstration of low-cost/no-cost tools for evaluators. We shared great tools that we’ve used, ones recommended by colleagues via aea365, and also got great suggestions from the audience.

Rad Resources: The PearlTree below has links to over 40 low-cost, no-cost tools.

Hot Tip – To get the most from the PearlTree: Click back to the aea365 website  and find the November 19 post if you are reading this via email (yes! It’s worth the click), then click on any of the Pearls to connect to that resource. you’ll notice that some of the pearls have little trees on them – that shows that they are nodes for subtopics. For instance, click on the pearl labeled “Free Photo Sites” to find links to multiple free photo sites as well as to two previous aea365 entries about free photo sites. Use the little [ -……..*……..+ ] slider at the bottom right to change the size of the pearls for easier reading.

Want to see this PearlTree full size? You can view it here on the PearlTrees website (you may need first to close the PearlTrees encouragement to download its iPad/iPhone ap).

Hot Tip: Many of the tools were recommended by the audience (check out the ‘Attendee Recommendations’ pearl node). We seem to have misplaced one of the flipchart pages with audience suggestions – if yours isn’t up there, OR if you just have a great low-cost/no-cost tool to recommend, add it to the comments please and we’ll grow this resource. We’ll also be reaching out to colleagues to get aea365 posts related to some of the tools for which we don’t yet have fuller narratives. See one up there without a linked aea365 post and that you use regularly? We’d love to hear from you!

Hot Tip: PearlTrees make a fun, green, easy, way to share materials related to a presentation or to a project. Joining PearlTrees is free and it is super easy to use.

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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I’m Susan Kistler, AEA’s Executive Director, and contributor for each Saturday’s aea365 post. This week I’m writing on Thursday and queuing it up for Saturday, anticipating a couple of busy days ahead. I also serve as a houseparent at a small Boarding school on the south coast of Massachusetts, known as “the School by the Sea.” We’re right on the water and the school’s assets include a 92 foot schooner and a slew of other boats. It’s looking like we’re in the predicated path of hurricane Irene and that means the disaster preparedness plan goes into action and we’re looking at two days of hauling boats and moving the contents of labs and classrooms and homes to higher ground.

Lesson Learned: I’m fascinated by major storms and watching the radar and predictive models that strive to anticipate their path. I’ve written before about how thinking evaluatively is a way of life, and storm tracking and response brings that to the fore. Rather than succumb to the hype “the storm of the century is coming your way,” evaluative thinking based on data and experience from previous events allows us to take action, respond to changing conditions, and stay safe.

As I was keeping an eye on the storm (it is soon to pass over my mother’s house in the Bahamas), I was reminded of other mapping resources of use to evaluators.

Rad Resource – MapAction Field Guide to Humanitarian Mapping: This past month, MapAction released a free (thanks to a Dulverton Trust grant) updated version of this guide. While the context is guidance for humanitarian organizations, and thus would be particularly useful for those working in international M&E, its articulate explanations of the fundamentals of GIS, using google earth for mapping, and data sources would be valuable to anyone considering a mapping project, including those undertaking community mapping endeavors.

Rad Resource – Google Earth and Mapping Resources: This curation tree provides links to a range of google earth and mapping resources. To make the most of it:

  • Hot Tip: Note that the software is flash-based and thus doesn’t work on iPad
  • Hot Tip: Drag the ‘curated by’ box down and to the left to get it out of the way
  • Hot Tip: Click on any of the nodes (the outer circles) to view the referenced site and, once on the site, you can use the “Next” box in the upper right to scroll through all of the recommended sites without returning to the curation tree

Rad Resource – Intrdouction to GIS and Spacial Analysis in Evaluation Workshop: Arlene Hopkins and Stephen Maack will be offering a mapping workshop specifically for evaluators at AEA’s 2011 annual conference this November in Anaheim.

The above opinions are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association. 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.

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My name is Philippe Buteau and I am an analyst at my own small co-owned firm, Buteau and Lindley. Back in May, Susan Kistler briefly wrote about Google Refine on aea365 and prompted me to take a look. Since then, I have used Refine in a number of ways and thought that I would submit a more extended post elaborating on this tool for data cleaning.

Rad Resource – Google Refine: First of all, what is it? Google Refine is “a [free] power tool for working with messy data, cleaning it up, transforming it from one format into another, extending it with web services, and linking it to databases.” To be more explicit, it allows you to import a data set and then to clean that data set in multiple ways. If you are a programmer, Google Refine allows you to do lots more, but I am limiting my focus here to the more generally applicable function of data cleaning.

Lessons Learned – Cleaning Data: Here are three examples of ways in which I used Refine for cleaning data and a comparison to doing the same in Microsoft Excel:

  • Removing erroneous rows: I imported a financial data set that included multiple subtotal rows. All I wanted was the rows that had specific categories and transactions, so that I could work with these. The subtotal rows created problems when sorting or filtering. In Refine I chose “Text Filter” from the column heading and then identified all of the rows with “Sub” in them, then deleted these rows all at once. Verdict: This as similar to what could be done in Excel, but was easily accomplished in Refine as well.
  • Combining multiple similar responses within a field: Once your data is imported, select Facet – Text Facet from the pull down list for a particular column. A column representing all of the responses and how many times that response appears is generated. You then just select each one that you want to merge and give it a common name. Thus, I could combine “New York” “NY” “NY “ and “NNY” so that they were all “NY”. Alternatively, there is a smart clustering feature that tries to do this for you – guessing at what responses are similar and should be combined. You can then review its guesses and fix as needed before the clustering is actually done. Verdict: Both the hand-combining and clustering were accomplished much more easily than would be possible in Excel and the clustering tool’s guesses were surprisingly accurate and a huge time saver.
  • Finding Outliers: From the column pull down list of a numeric field, select Facet – Numeric Facet. This will immediately show you a small histogram with the distribution of all of the values in that column as well as the range of values in the column. Each side of the histogram has a handle that slides back and forth. Sliding the handle to display only the most extreme values to the left or right side of the histogram filters all of the rows in the dataset so you are looking only at the ones within the constricted range of outliers. Verdict: Much faster and more intuitive than options for doing the same in Excel and the combination of viewing graphically and the fields themselves provided a richer understanding.

Lessons Learned – Undo: The history feature was a godsend. It allows you to undo mistakes and step backwards through your cleaning. I also found that it gave me the confidence to try out some things, knowing that I could undo them immediately.

Lesson Learned – Download to Desktop: Google Refine can be downloaded to your desktop so you don’t have to upload your data and you retain full control and ownership of it.

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. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Good day! Susan Kistler here, AEA’s Executive Director and aea365 regular Saturday contributor. Everyone has used Google to search (ok almost everyone) but here are five items I’ve used from Google in the past month that you may not yet know about.

Hot Tip: First, in most cases, you’ll need a google account. They are free. When you go to www.google.com, click on the “Sign in” link in the upper right corner – even if you don’t have an account, this will take you to where you can set one up.

Rad Resource – Google Refine: Data is messy, in particular public data sets. Google refine helps you to clean messy data and it is pretty amazing. It helps you to quickly fix inconsistencies in coding, resolve problems in mismatched data types, and reshape your data for use in other analysis programs. Best of all, it is a desktop application that you download and run on your desktop (although you interact with it through your browser) so that you need not upload sensitive data.

Rad Resource – Google Calendar: Google calendar serves the mundane task for keeping me organized, replacing my paper calendar. But it goes many steps further. I manage multiple calendars (personal, aea, aea365, and over 10 more), all of which I can show on a single interface and view or not view at will. Each calendar may be shared with others and sharing may be set to show details or just to show that you are busy at a given time.

Rad Resource – Google Tasks: This is the unsung hero of Google Calendar – an application embedded within Calendar itself. Pull up the tasks calendar and you can create to do lists, set due dates, provide details, etc – and then see all of the items on your main calendar.

Rad Resource – Google Labs: This is where you’ll find prototypes of possible future google services. Right now, they’ve got 55 experiments that you can try out ranging from shared spaces where you can collaboratively develop a mind map, to google goggles that allows you to take a picture of a place with your phone and return search results based on the picture, to public data explorer through which you can visualize and analyze large public data sets.

Rad Resource – Google Moderator: Google moderator, a google labs experiment, lets someone who will be a speaker at an event identify possible audience questions or topics and have users vote on those they would most like to see answered. Don’t quite get it? Here’s an example where you can submit questions for everyone’s favorite Sesame Street character, Elmo, to answer and vote on those you would most like to see answered.

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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Hello, my name is Juan Paulo Ramírez, independent consultant, sole owner of “GIS and Human Dimensions, L.L.C.” As many of you may know Google Analytics (GA) allows you to track down the number of visitors that a website receives during a certain period of time. But GA does a lot more than that. If you have installed the GA code into a website, GA offers a number of visualization tools that will allow you to analyze what is working and what is not working in your website, and ways to improve it. The following are two of the visualization tools that I like the most offered by Google Analytics:

Rad Resource: Google Analytics – Map overlay

Map overlay allows you to identify from where you are getting visitors. This is a great tool since it identifies your audience by geographic location and then potentially you can customize your website to the characteristics of that audience based on their demographics, culture, or interests. A coropleth world map separated by countries is displayed with the capacity to zoom in to take a more detailed look from which particular regions you are receiving visitors. If you click in the U.S. you can hover the cursor of the mouse over any state and a textbox will pop up with the frequency of visitors. Using the Map Overlay tool you may be able to identify if you need to translate the contents of your website to a specific language, for instance if you are receiving many visitors from non-speaking English countries or communities.

To learn more about map overlay, view Google Analytics in 60 Seconds: Location Targeting on YouTube

Rad Resource – Google Motion charts

Motion charts allows you for instance to identify keywords that people have used to find your website. Keywords can be displayed as dynamic charts using bubbles or bars. A bubble chart may describe the average number of pages per visit using a specific keyboard. What is nice about the motion chart is that allows you to see changes in the use of keywords over time, which may indicate some trends that people are following influenced by a professional forum discussion, participation in events, or particular interests brought up by your followers. As people change their interests and ideas, this is a great information tool for you to adjust the contents of your website according to the needs of your visitors.

To learn more about motion charts, view Motion Charts in Google Analytics on YouTube

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Data Visualization and Reporting Week with our colleagues in the new DVR AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our DVR members and you may wish to consider subscribing to our weekly headlines and resources list where we’ll be highlighting DVR resources. 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.

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My name is Kristy Jang, and I am a Master’s student at the University of British Columbia, Canada. I am interested in evaluating educational programs in developing countries and professional development programs in higher education. Since last fall, I have had the pleasure to help evaluate a graduate-level professional development program which is based on a group-mentoring model. As part of our evaluation, we are looking at the development of social networks among stakeholders (e.g., trainees, mentors) and trainee achievements. In collecting data on these topics, we have encountered some helpful resources:

Rad Resource: First, Lime Survey is a free online survey development tool: www.limesurvey.org. You can collect data via e-mails with a link to the online survey, and the responses are automatically compiled within the server. You can export the data in different file formats (e.g., Excel, SPSS) and obtain data summary statistics and graphs. With regards to collecting social networks data, the most useful feature was “array_filter” function, which allowed us to ask questions with response choices that were filtered out from a previous question. For example, we first asked, “Which of the following people do you interact with?” Then, the respondent’s choices became the possible answer choices of the subsequent questions such as, “Whom do you ask for help when you have a challenging problem in your research?” and “Who do you talk to when you have a new innovative idea?” The social networks data were analyzed through UCINET software, which allowed us to visualize interactions among stakeholders as sociograms in three-dimensional space.

Rad Resource: Next, Google Docs is a helpful resource for simpler survey questions: www.gmail.com. Although it does not have complex features such as the “array_filter, it is more user-friendly with 71 design choices. Thus, it is more suitable for beginners and helpful for increasing response rates. Moreover, Google Docs Forms helps enhance communications among the evaluators as documents can be stored within the server and jointly edited by anyone who has access to the g-mail account.

Rad Resource: Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro software helps you collect information that could be better presented in a table rather than a survey format (e.g., a list of workshops and conferences respondents attended, including date, title, place, and the respondents’ roles). The software works similarly as the other online survey development tools. It sends out an e-mail with a link to the document, and when responses are submitted, it automatically compiles them in your computer as a separate file. Make sure that the PDF file you created is set to be writable, allowing respondents to save data in the document using Acrobat Reader – from the “Advanced” on the menu bar click on “Extend features in Acrobat Reader.”

Want to learn more about Kristy’s work? Join us at the American Evaluation Association’s Annual Conference, Evaluation 2010, in San Antonio this November and check out the poster exhibition on Wednesday evening.

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