Greetings. My name is Michael Quinn Patton and I’ve been conducting pre-conference workshops every year since the American Evaluation Association (AEA) was established. (Well, I did miss 1989 when the earthquake in San Francisco led to canceling the workshops.) Over the years I’ve found that the participants in my workshops are increasingly from all over the world and from new fields where evaluation is being applied, like climate change, social entrepreneurship, conflict resolution, and building civil societies. Diversity rules at AEA, so while I conduct workshops, I learn from interacting with participants.
So this is the week that AEA shines a spotlight on the latest developments in the profession. And you don’t have to attend to use the conference for learning.
Lesson Learned: Use the conference theme and program for learning. Each year the AEA president selects the theme, explains its significance, and builds a presidential strand featuring developments related to the theme. Having been an AEA president and having known each one over the years, I can tell you they put a lot of thought into picking a theme. A lot of thought!
Rad Resource: Find out why AEA President Jody Fitzpatrick picked the theme Evaluation Practice in the Early 21st Century. Ponder the questions she poses in her invitation to the conference whether you can attend or not.
Rad Resource: Examine the Presidential Strand featured sessions to see what the cutting edge issues are related to the theme.
Rad resource: Study the Professional Development Workshop offerings to see what topics are enduring as standards and what new offerings have emerged that reveal new competencies evaluators need in the 21st century. Again, even if you can’t attend the conference, you can learn a great deal by studying the workshop descriptions.
Rad Resource: Use the Evaluation 2013 Searchable Program to find out what sessions are being offered on topics of interest to you. My pre-conference workshops are on Developmental Evaluation and Utilization-Focused Evaluation. Entering these keywords, I can find all of the sessions based on those approaches. I was amazed to find 38 sessions on Developmental Evaluation. Looks like an important new direction to me.
Hot Tip: Even if you can’t attend a session that interests you, look for presentations in the AEA Public eLibrary and follow-up with presenters who are typically happy to share what they’ve presented.
Lesson Learned: Use the AEA conference program as data and a resource for your ongoing professional development. It’s all right there on line. In real time. Now.
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 email@example.com . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.