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A. Rae Clementz on Evaluation Tech Resources

Hi. My name is A. Rae Clementz and in addition to being the co-chair of the Graduate Student and New Evaluator TIG, I am also a techie.  I believe technology is of value when it helps us accomplish our goals in ways that are better, easier, and/or cheaper. I have evaluated several educational technology integration programs. Consistently one of the biggest barriers to successful implementation is teachers’ perceptions of the tool’s cost-benefit ratio. If the cost is too high, it’s a non-starter; the program or cool new toy will never fit in their school’s stretched budget. Even if the tool is free, if it’s too hard to use or doesn’t add some new or improved dimension to student learning, it’s not worth the effort.

I often feel similar time and budget constraints in my evaluations. Below are some cheap, efficient, and effective tools for two common evaluation tasks.

Rad Resource for conducting & recording interviews:

  • Google Voice | I’m one of those people who only has a cell phone. To avoid burning minutes during the day, I make my calls with Google Voice. Google voice uses the internet connection on either your computer or cell phone to make calls. Bonus feature: incoming calls can be recorded, and Google Voice automatically creates a transcript and .mp3 recording of the call in your Google Voice Inbox!
  • Skype + Evaer or Pretty May | Skype is one of the most common video and voice conferencing tools and its basic levels are free. Evaer and Pretty May are programs that record the voice and video feeds of Skype and save them out as either .mp3 or .wav files. Pretty May is free, as is the basic version of Evaer. Full version of Evaer is $20 with lifetime support and upgrades.

Lesson Learned:

It is critical when recording anything that you inform everyone that you’re recording the call, for what purposes, and ask them if they agree to be recorded. Many states have laws prohibiting unauthorized recording of phone conversations.

Rad Resource for disseminating evaluation findings:

  • Weebly + Scribd | Weebly is a simple, free, drag-and-drop, web-based, website design program. If you can use e-mail and PowerPoint, you can create a website using Weebly. Scribd is a free online publishing site. You can upload documents and either direct people to them on Scribd or embed them in websites or other social media sites.

Lesson Learned 1: Sadly, just because you built it doesn’t mean they’ll come.  But having a website for the evaluation is still a good way to provide transparency, encourage comment from stakeholders, and disseminate findings to broader audiences. The process of building the site also promotes more organized communication about the evaluation.

This contribution is from the aea365 Tip-a-Day Alerts, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. Want to learn more from Rae? She’ll be presenting as part of the Evaluation 2012 Conference Program, October 24-27 in Minneapolis, MN.

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