Finding inspiration from podcast hosts and new formats by Liz Zadnik

Hi there!  I’m Liz Zadnik, member of the aea365 curating team and Saturday contributor.  I don’t know about you, but summer has started here on the East Coast of the United States and I could not be more excited.  I’m ready for some sun and time on the beach!

We all have our vacation rituals – we might bring books with us or some magazines to catch up on.  I personally love podcasts.  To be honest, I probably listen to podcasts more than music – I love how they teach and entertain and help me tap into my creativity.  I thought I would share some of my favorite evaluation-themed (and non-evaluation-themed) podcast episodes to really kick off the summer!

Rad Resource: TED Talks are a perennial favorite – and for good reason!  I found data journalist Mona Chalabi’s recent talk so insightful and practical.  I appreciated how she sought to make data meaningful and reflect the lives of communities – something we strive to do as we work with organizations creating change and generate accessible data visualizations that will resonate with folks.  She asks us to ask three questions – one of which is “Can I [see] myself in the data?”  She uses this question as a way to encourage folks to be mindful of axes labels and breakdowns of data points.

TED Talk Honorable Mention: Giorgia Lupi’s talk on data visualization and representation, “Because data are just a tool we use to represent reality.”

Hot Tip:  In my experience, folks often consider data as separate from them and their realities.  To help navigate this, I’ve talked about data as similar to constellations.  The stars are already there and we care connecting them to tell a story – a story that helps us make sense of our world.  

How have you personalized data so folks can relate and connect?


Rad Resource: Another favorite podcast of mine is NPR’s Invisibilia which explores “the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.”  I’m currently saving up the most recent Season Three episodes for a work trip, but some of my favorites from earlier seasons explore different solutions to “problems” and ways we are and feel connected to one another.

What’s your favorite podcast?  Do you have a favorite episode that you go back to every now and again?

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

1 thought on “Finding inspiration from podcast hosts and new formats by Liz Zadnik”

  1. Good day, Liz.

    Thank you for your contribution. My name is Lisa Templeton and I am a grad student in the Professional Master’s in Education program at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. Professionally, I am grade 8 teacher of English and Social Studies. Currently, I am taking a course in Program Inquiry and Evaluation.

    Your post caught my eye for a variety of reasons. First, I too am a podcast enthusiast. Their ability to entertain, teach, and connect us with the world around us is a gift. As a teacher, I feel one of the most important things I can do is help students see themselves in the world. This brings me to my first point.

    Your comment, “How have you personalized data so folks can relate and connect?” hit me hard. As a teacher, I am required to write outcome based school reports three times a year. While the language used is not complicated, it is also not immediately approachable to the average grade 8 student. If my students cannot decipher their own reports in a way that is meaningful and relevant, how can I expect them to grow in their learning? Our new ELA curriculum is being introduced in Manitoba this fall. As I come to grips with what the outcomes *can mean (interpretation really is everything, no?) I am forced to also consider what they *can mean to my students. This brings me to my next point.

    “Can I see myself in the data?” The answer is “no” if there is no student voice in the data. I am considering how to incorporate this voice into the data. Because our reports are outcome based, anecdotal student comments would be a departure from this expectation. However, can they not be in addition to the outcome based reporting? The readings I have done this week speak of the value of evaluator/programmer collaboration for the purposes of improving contextual understanding, personal investment in growth, and authentic findings. I extend this idea to teacher/student collaboration. This relationship must be nurtured so that students feel they matter. When they feel they matter, they can feel safe to invest themselves in their work. This investment (or sometimes lack thereof) should be shown on their reports in their own words as, in evaluator’s terms, an accurate reflection of findings.

    I appreciate your time and giving me something more to consider as I seek to be a better teacher. What are your thoughts on marrying the evaluation world with the education world?

    Most considerately,

    Lisa Templeton

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