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

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Hi! I’m Sheila B. Robinson, aea365’s Lead Curator and once monthly Saturday contributor.

With Evaluation 2013 a mere one week in the past, evaluation bloggers are all over it recounting, recapturing, reliving, and reflecting on conference courses and confabulations.

Eval 13 banner

Whether you made it to Washington, DC to experience the conference live, or watched your #eval13 Twitter feed from the comforts of home, you can enjoy our evaluation community bloggers and microbloggers who have united to bring the conference experience to you from a wealth of diverse perspectives.

Lesson Learned: Learning is socially constructed, and the digital age has brought us to new frontiers of learning with and from each other. After all, “we become ourselves through others” according to eminent psychologist Lev Vygotsky.

Hot Tip: Check out evaluation blogs to read accounts of variety of conference sessions from plenaries to professional development workshops by both novice and experienced evaluation bloggers.

Sure, you can read the conference catalog, and attendees, you can study your own notes, but for a truly fresh perspective, check out someone else’s notes! And while you’re at it, add your perspective to the mix by engaging bloggers in discussion with comments or questions. Bloggers love to write, but even more, they like to be engaged in thoughtful discussions with their readers that enhance the experience for all.

Rad Resources: The blogosphere is replete with Evaluation 2013 reflections. Here are just a few: Ann K EmeryChris Lysy, John GarganiChi Yan LamJames PannAnn Price, Brownyn Mauldin, and Mary S Nash. Oh, and there’s one from me, too, Sheila B. Robinson. If you or someone you know has also blogged about Evaluation 2013, please add names and links in the comments section of this post so we can all enjoy them.

Rad Resources: Michael Quinn Patton (the only evaluator I know with his own hash tag, #omgmqp) advised exploring the conference catalog and AEA Public e-Library here (it’s now filling up fast with new material!) and Susan Kistler introduced us to some #eval13 live tweeters here (and they’re still at it, even post-conference!).

Rad Resource: To relive (or see for the first time) some of Evaluation 2013’s hottest moments (read: Ignite presentations), check out our Youtube Ignite channel. You can even subscribe via email to get updates as new videos are added.

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! I’m Sheila B. Robinson, aea365’s Leader Volunteer Curator. I teach Program Evaluation Methods at University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education, and am a grant coordinator for Greece Central School District in Rochester, NY. In my spare time, I read, learn and blog about evaluation, and it’s no exaggeration to say I never come away from my computer, book, article on evaluation without  learning something. “Ancora imparo” is attributed to Michelangelo in his late 80s!

As I’m once again preparing my syllabus, I’m reflecting on a wealth of free and low-cost evaluation resources. Since I always want to improve the course for my students, I’m look for new readings and activities to ensure my course is up-to-date, and that my students learn about the “big names” and big issues in the evaluation community today.

Lesson Learned: I’m convinced evaluators are the most collegial, collaborative, and generous people ever, and I’m always impressed with how many of them are willing to share their knowledge and resources with everyone.

Hot Tips:

1.) Fill your toolbox! Susan Kistler, AEA’s Executive Director Emeritus, has contributed numerous aea365 posts on free or low-cost technology tools. Search her name, or glance through aea365 archive for links and descriptions.

2.) Join the conversations! Mentioned before, but definitely worth another look: AEA’s LinkedIn discussion, and EvalTalk – two places I’ve learned about the multitude of websites, textbooks, and articles on evaluation, many of which have made their way into my course. Here’s a link to a discussion on “Comprehensive set of websites on evaluation and research methods.” I recently asked EvalTalk for some “must-read journal articles for program evaluation students” and got great responses; some people even sent me their syllabi!  Cool trick: I’ve copied rich EvalTalk and LinkedIn discussions on a topic of interest (e.g. pre- and post-testing) to share with students as examples of the types of discussions evaluators have in “the real world” of evaluation work.

3.) Cull from collections! Who doesn’t love one-stop shopping? My favorite place for great collections is AEA’s site. Check out everything under the Reading, Learning, and Community tabs and all the links on the main page. Check out Evaluator and Evaluation blogs and evaluators on Twitter. Chris Lysy maintains a large collection of evaluation-related blogs at EvalCentral. Gene Shackman has amassed probably the largest collection of Free Resources for Program Evaluation and Social Research Methods.

4.) “Extend” your learning! Google “evaluation” + “extension” and find a universe of free tools and resources from university extension programs. Here are just a few:  University of Wisconsin-Extension, Penn State Extension, NC Cooperative Extension, K-State research and Extension. I stumbled upon this collection at University of Kentucky’s Program Development and Evaluation Resources.

Apprendimento felice! (Happy learning!)

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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Ah the joys of a truly beautiful spring day. I am Susan Kistler, the American Evaluation Association’s Executive Director and aea365 Saturday contributor. I’m hoping you’ll join us in Atlanta in a few short weeks for the AEA/CDC Summer Evaluation Institute – but even if you can’t, scroll to the bottom and learn about a great blog that’s worth a read.

Hot Tip: Attend the 2012 AEA/CDC Summer Evaluation Institute to fill your evaluation toolbox, and network with colleagues. We’ll be in Atlanta from June 3-6.

Lesson Learned: Because the Institute is co-convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some people think that you have to be working in public health to participate. Not so! The Institute is full of professional development workshops appropriate for beginning to intermediate level evaluators, as well as those called upon to perform evaluation as part of their broader duties.

Lesson Learned: Because the event is called an Institute, some people think that it isn’t for practitioners. On the contrary, the event is filled with sessions focusing on concrete skills, from convening focus groups to developing surveys, from evaluating media campaigns to project management, from planning your evaluation to attending to culture and context.

Hot Tip: Registration is still open, but registration for individual sessions has started to close as each one fills. We’ll take registrations as long as possible, but the options available become more limited with each passing day.

Hot Tip: And, on a completely different note, I want to suggest that those of you who are new evaluators (and perhaps even those who have been at it for a while) consider subscribing to Karen Anderson’s blog On Top of the Box Evaluation. You gotta love anyone with a countdown to the Institute on her homepage, but Karen also has some wonderful insights into working to be a better person and a better professional and the intersection of the two. Karen is a (relatively) new professional, a graduate of AEA’s GEDI program, and an all around wonder woman. Oh, and did I mention that Karen is our (relatively) new Diversity Programs Intern? So much wonderfulness in one person makes her blog a must-read. Recent posts have included “What Evaluation Hat Are You Wearing” and a series on the ROI of Building Trust: Are You an Evaluation Trust Agent.”

Clipped from: ontopoftheboxeval.wordpress.com (share this clip)

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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My name is Pablo Rodríguez-Bilella, and I am a social researcher at the Argentine Research Council and a professor of Social Anthropology at the UNSJ (Argentina).  I have been involved for the past few years in different uses of Web 2.0, and below I will share with you some lessons of my blogging experience at Al Borde Del Caos.

Rad Resources: Initially, I began to follow several twitterers who also blog about evaluation and development (see EvalCentral  or my trending tweets). Very soon I realized that I wasn´t satisfied with the stuff I had been finding in Spanish about these issues (with the exception of Evaluateca!).  Being involved in networks (mainly ReLAC and IOCE), conferences and research around evaluation was an extra motivation to begin blogging in Spanish. The idea of increasing the visibility and role of evaluation was pretty clear, so in September 2011 I began this adventure of blogging at Al Borde del Caos!

Hot Tips – most popular post:

I inserted a Translate to English button in my blog that, although far from perfect, it could help readers to have a close idea of what I´m posting.  So, these were the four more popular posts:

Lessons Learned:

  • Having a “bank of topics” is a great idea. So, every time something exciting appears somewhere, I send it to Evernote, and it will be ready when I´ll be looking for fresh ideas to blog.
  • On the other hand, several posts were written based on invitationschallenges or interest to give diffusion to something.
  • Blogging can be a time consuming activity, but it is time well used! The possibilities of networking, of finding similar (and different) people in the evaluation field, of learning by sharing, etc. are great returns for the investment done.
  • Publishing a post is just half of the work. The other half implies engaging with people who make comments or inquires, and letting the world know about the new post.
  • Many times this engagement with commenters doesn´t happen in the same blog, but in discussions groups in LinkedIn (pay a look to the several ones I am part of), the Facebook page of the blog, or Google Plus. If people are having fun in a particular bar, don’t push them to another one (unless everybody wants to move!)

As I like to say when I publish a new post: You are invited to visit Al Borde del Caos and polish your Spanish (or use the translate button!)

This year, we’re running a series highlighting evaluators who blog. 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 Cindy Banyai, Executive Director of the Refocus Institute, an international consortium offering training and specialists in innovative participatory evaluation practices. I write our blog, the Participatory Evaluation Forum (and update our Facebook and Twitter pages), to demonstrate our activities, share information, and promote the use and acceptance of participatory action research in evaluation.

Rad Resource –Participatory Evaluation Forum: I began blogging on the Participatory Evaluation Forum before heading to my first AEA conference in 2010 to gain recognition for Refocus in the evaluation world. I began with an ambitious plan of blogging every day, which quickly devolved into every other day and now to a comfortable 1 to 2 times a week. I write about projects Refocus is involved with, reflections on evaluation and being an independent consultant, as well as responses to current events and articles through the lens of participatory practices.

Hot Tips – Here are the top 3 posts according to views, all of which were viewed dramatically more than average.

  • December 9, 2010 – Evaluation terminology and its vexes. This blog piggybacked off one written by Jara Dean-Coffey on her blog To What End?
  • March 17, 2011 – Post-disaster planning and management. I wrote this blog shortly after the tsunami in Japan in response to an article written about rebuilding after the disaster. I was critical of the article and suggested there should be a heavy emphasis on community-based planning in the reconstruction, which actually opened a dialogue with the article’s writers via the comments section.
  • April 3, 2011 – Patton’s Qualitative Evaluation & Research Methods. I originally wrote this brief summary of Patton’s book for an article on ehow.com. I then re-posted it and reaped the benefits of their SEO titling.

Hot Tips

  • Update your FeedBurner if you change your url – I forgot to do this and missed out on sharing through Eval Central until I fixed it just recently.
  • Repurpose content –Re-post blogs you wrote earlier or pieces for another purpose (i.e. evaluation executive summary, journal article). This saves times and helps spread your message to those who may have missed it the first time.
  • Add links – Putting in hyperlinks to popular sites and linking to your previously written blogs helps boost your blog’s online visibility.
  • Share – Put links to your blog on your social media pages and reference it when you join in relevant conversations on LinkedIn. The more you put it out there, the more likely someone will read it!

This winter, we’re running a series highlighting evaluators who blog. 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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