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

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My name is Lars Balzer, I am head of the Evaluation Unit at the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET) and also responsible for the Evaluation Portal.

Congresses, conferences, workshops, lectures, and continuing education programs are excellent opportunities to learn new things about evaluation, discuss interesting topics and exchange ideas with colleagues.

Rad Resource: The Evaluation Portal Event Calendar is an international calendar for evaluation-related events that can help you find such settings. Currently you can find an evaluation-related event there on average about every 3rd day in 2014.

Clipped from http://www.evaluation.lars-balzer.name/calendar/

Hot Tip: To find an event, simply browse through the calendar and filter events by selecting one or more subcategories from the main categories: “continent”, “country”, “language” and “type of event” so that only events which fit your criteria are shown.

We also have “Featured”, “Most Popular” and “Newest” so that you can find upcoming events, events which have received the most clicks from site visitors, or events newly added to the calendar. Of course you can also do a specific search for a particular event.

Cool Trick: You can subscribe to a newsletter which sends you information about events in the categories you have chosen about once a month. There are also several RSS-feeds available. Various web 2.0 options can be used to share information, and you can also download events to your personal calendar.

Get Involved: Are you responsible for an evaluation-related event? Every event related to evaluation can be registered, so if you know about one not already included, feel free to submit it. Information about your event will be spread to the global evaluation community. It’s a great way to get people to learn about your event.

If you run events on a regular basis, I can also build a separate organizer page and all your events will then be linked with this page.

All this is a free of charge, private and independent service – just check it out.

Rad Resource: The Event Calendar is just one section of the Evaluation Portal. There is also the Link Collection with more than 550 individually described and approved links to evaluation books, journals, downloadable guides and handbooks, free and commercial tools, businesses, and much more.

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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My name is Sarah Sevcik and I serve as the Program Committee Chair on the board of the Minnesota Evaluation Association.  Our chapter hosts 5 events per year for our members, and I’m here to share some lessons learned about planning and hosting events and working with a program committee.

Lesson Learned: Multiple Program Announcements

Send 2-3 email announcements to your list-serve and include a link to an online RSVP site, such as Survey Monkey.  Three days prior to the event, send an email to the RSVP list.  Even with the best of intentions, many people will forget without the reminder.  Send another email the day after the event with a link to a short online evaluation survey and attached copies of handouts and PPTS from the presentation.  In the survey, ask for suggestions for topics or formats for future programs.

Lesson Learned: Designate Program Hosts

Planning for, coordinating and implementing programs for your members takes a lot of time and energy. Therefore, one strategy we use is choosing one or two main program hosts for each of our programs. That way, each program committee member has the opportunity to lead a program, and it reduces the risk of burnout and communication confusions that come from all/many committee members working on each program together.  The program committee decides the event’s theme, and the hosts plan the details of the event, such as contacting potential presenters, securing a date, time and location, and ordering food and beverage.  The Program Committee Chair provides support, keeps people on track with deadlines, and assists as needed.

Hot Tip: Involve students

Personally ask evaluation students to join the Program Committee. Students are often full of energy, ideas, and passion to see a program through, and it’s a wonderful networking opportunity for them.  Consider students from different universities and colleges in the area, as well as different disciplines, including public policy, education, health, and social work.

Hot Tip: Make it Multi-disciplinary

When planning programs, emphasize multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary interests. We’ve had a number of programs where people from ‘outside’ the field of evaluation join with evaluation experts to discuss a topic, such as Using GIS as an Evaluation Tool.  Ask the presenters to invite their colleagues to the program.  In our RSVPs and program evaluations, we ask if the individual would like more information about the MN Evaluation Association.  This has been a great way for us to increase our membership and diversity of expertise and interests.

Twin Cities Hot Tip: In Minnesota, grab something yummy to eat at Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant in St. Paul and then visit the Rose Garden, Peace Garden, and Bird Sanctuary while walking around Lake Harriet in Minneapolis.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Minnesota Evaluation Association (MN EA) Affiliate Week with our colleagues in the MNEA AEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our MNEA 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.

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Hi, I’m Susan Wolfe. I am the owner of Susan Wolfe and Associates, LLC, an independent consulting firm that applies Community Psychology principles to strengthening organizations and communities.

As an independent consultant and community psychologist, I spend time networking in my local and professional communities.   Networking serves two functions for me.  First, it helps me to learn about the people, organizations, and politics in my local community, so that when I work on local projects I have an understanding of the context.  Second, it gives people and organizations an opportunity to know my business and what we have to offer.  When a project requires an evaluation or one of my peers needs a collaborator, they might call on me first.  An extra benefit is that I have met some interesting people from whom I have learned a lot!  For those of you who work within larger organizations, it helps expands the pool of individuals you can call on for information or assistance and it is useful when you are seeking employment or looking for promotion opportunities.

One way to network is to volunteer and get involved.  If there is an issue you are interested in working on, or an area you would like to learn more about, then see if there is a coalition or group that meets to discuss it and join it.  Within your professional association, seek out volunteer opportunities and leadership positions.

HOT TIP #1:  AEA posts volunteer opportunities on its website and invites members to complete a Volunteer Interest and Capacity Inventory and write blogs.  There are also opportunities available through the various TIGs.

Another way to network is to attend events, workshops, and conferences.  At the local level attending topical programs or skills-based workshops is one way to meet people with common interests to yours and learn something at the same time.  Professional associations often provide pre-conference workshops.  When you attend conferences, attend presentations by individuals who share your interests and talk with them afterward.  If you arrive early to a presentation, strike up a conversation with the person next to you.

HOT TIP #2: Workshops sponsored by AEA or The Evaluators’ Institute are a great way to sharpen your skills and get to know your peers.

One way to network with other evaluators is to join your local evaluation group.  If there is none in your area, then form one yourself.  It can be as simple as getting all local evaluators together at a local coffee shop or restaurant a few times a year.

Whether you work as an independent consultant, or work for a larger organization, networking is important for building your business or career.  It is worth investing the time and effort.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Independent Consultants (IC) TIG Week with our colleagues in the IC AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC  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.

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