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ITE TIG Week: The Integrating Technology in Evaluation TIG is Cool Hunting for Innovative Ideas by John Baek

Hello. I am John Baek, chair of the Integrating Technology in Evaluation (ITE) TIG. This is my first year as TIG chair, and I’ve had a number of discussions with TIG members this past year and one question keeps coming up, what does technology mean in the context of evaluation today? This week the members of the ITE TIG will share their ideas about technology in evaluation. 

The ITE TIG is the home for the AEA members that want explore these ideas, but in what ways can the TIG support this? The history of the TIG as I understand it, is that it originated in the 90’s as the Computers and Evaluation TIG. Yet, the need for this TIG still exists today, where the pace of technology is well beyond what we know to be good practice– a World Beyond Midnight. A place where evaluators share how they are harnessing technologies from adjacent fields and applying them to their evaluation practice in ways that are equitable and not just replicating existing power structures. 

To borrow from the 90’s once more, the TIG needs to go “cool hunting,” when marketing professionals would perform quasi-ethnographic studies to identify cultural fads and trends from around the globe. William Gibson is famous for the line, “the future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” If you are passionate about a technology and how it will inform the future of evaluation, we want to hear from you. We want to be a first-stop shop for such ideas for any AEA member looking to find other like-minded individuals, and nurture a community around it.  

Hot Tips

One trend I came across at last year’s Eval21 conference was in the Environmental Program Evaluation TIG. There were presentations about tools and approaches to using geospatial data, like GIS (geographic information systems), drones, and satellite data. In the months following, a small group, led by Katie Butler, had formed. So if you have an evaluation question that uses geospatial data or approaches, you should know that this group exists and they want to talk with you about your project. Katie will be posting her blog later this week and this group will be doing a demonstration at the conference this year.

Another trend came at this summer’s AEA Town Hall on Digital Data and Technology, there was a presentation about merging data science and evaluation by Peter York. In some ways I think Peter’s telling us what all of our jobs will look like in 10 to 20 years. What if data could be analyzed in real-time, with massive data sets in short-turnaround and be localized for each community? What if we could code evaluation recommendations into improvement engines that provide suggestions to staff throughout the day? You can watch that presentation here, and he will be presenting at the conference this year. 

Rad Resources

  • As these tools and approaches have the potential to radically transform our evaluation practice, we need guidelines and principles for their responsible use. What do our AEA Guiding Principles look like when robots and algorithms are making decisions along the way? 
  • What will be our responsibility with this data? What does honesty and transparency mean in such a world? The folks at MERL Tech are thinking about this. Here is their Guidance on Responsible Data Governance.
Get Involved

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Integrating Technology into Evaluation Topical Interest Group (ITE TIG) Week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from the ITE TIG members. 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. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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