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Tech TIG Week: Integrating Technology in Evaluation TIG Themes by John Baek and Diamond St. Thomas

Greetings from John Baek and Diamond St. Thomas, the Integrating Technology in Evaluation (ITE) TIG Co-chairs. There has been a growing interest within the TIG and across AEA on the opportunities for integrating emerging technologies as well as with administrative systems in evaluation. It is our impression that these themes have tended to focus on the technical aspects, but we feel now is an opportune time to expand the conversation across AEA. 

Technology is essential to evaluation. The data derived from emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence, machine learning, satellites and drones, and blockchain have an increasing number of applications in evaluation, many of which are opening up exciting new approaches to evaluation. In addition, the data found in administrative systems can yield both benefits and challenges to integrating with evaluation. The ability to collect and process vastly greater volumes of data, all have broad political, technical, ethical and philosophical issues for the evaluation profession, for the often vulnerable communities that evaluators seek to help, and for society in general.

We have invited authors for this week’s blog posts to discuss issues related to these technologies in evaluation. Following the theme of the 2023 AEA conference the authors touch on the following questions in their explorations:

  • What was the rationale for introducing the new technologies?
  • Did the initiative come from the external evaluator or funding agency, or from the local partner?  
  • What was the experience implementing the new technology and what were the lessons learned? 
  • What were the broader implications?
  • What was the value-added of the introduction of these new evaluation technologies for the different stakeholders?

We hope that through these articles and other TIG activities throughout the year, we can gradually build up experiences to develop a broader framework for thinking about the contribution and challenges of new technologies in evaluation. As technologies are part of most evaluation projects, we see this as happening across all TIGs. 

Such a framework might provide guidance to evaluators on how best to implement technologies given a host of challenging questions. How to identify and address biases and ethical issues, or how they apply when working with vulnerable groups? Who gets excluded by technology? How might we rethink issues of data sovereignty in the context of big data? What new skill sets does an evaluator need, like having the literacy to work with information technology or geospatial specialists? What might be the limiting factor in technology adoption projects? How might we leverage change management processes and apply organizational change theory when IT decides to upgrade their IT infrastructure?

Get Involved
  • Learn more about the ITE TIG and join us.
  • See the openings for TIG leadership, we’ve got some for this year and next. If you’re interested or have questions, please contact John Baek at john@johnybaek.com
  • The TIG is co-hosting an informal lunch at the 2023 AEA conference with MERL Tech and Accountable Now. Sign up here if you’d like to join us!

The American Evaluation Association is hostingIntegrating Technology into Evaluation TIG Week with our colleagues in the Integrating Technology into Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from 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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