The theme of this year’s conference, Evaluation 2018 organised by the the American Evaluation Association was ‘Seeking Truth to Power’, a core belief that must be followed by evaluators. The conference recognizes the power of evaluation for nonprofits, foundations, governments and others in the social sector to understand what works and what doesn’t to improve their programs and services. We, at Outline India, strive to promote evaluations, through our upcoming self-reporting tool, Track Your Metrics. We wish to reach out to as many NGOs and donors across the country to use the evaluation platform in order to track and measure the progress being made by them and grantees, respectively.
I was thrilled when I got the opportunity to present at the AEA Conference on the topic - ‘Data Collection Challenges and Innovations: Notes from the field”. As an international speaker who has conducted primary field work and interviewed people hailing from various parts of India, I spoke about my experiences on the field and the challenges we have faced while conducting field work in a developing country like India. It was interesting to speak to a mixed audience - those who have worked in India and those who have not. I got an opportunity to listen to other evaluators share their own personal experiences, the problems and mitigation strategies they have adopted while working in developing countries.
Sharing a space with over 3000 evaluators from all over the world was a valuable learning experience I will never forget. Contributing to the vast repository of shared knowledge has made me grow as an individual. At every nook and corner of the centre there were evaluators discussing how the evaluation space can be improved in the years to come, how evaluations need to take into account cultural nuances and improve upon ‘standardised’ tools for M&E, interesting out of the box methodologies such as Life History Interviews adopted for evaluations and so on. It was wonderful to see knowledge being shared by those who had been involved since decades to those who were just entering the field of evaluations.
There were numerous types of concurrent sessions taking place throughout the day - Demonstrations, ignite presentations, paper presentations, panel discussions and so on on various themes. Surprisingly, being present at the conference from morning to night did not feel exhausting simply because of how interesting, knowledgeable and interactive the sessions were. There was so much to learn from everybody's experience. Although these evaluations were conducted in another part of the world altogether, there were still so many similarities in the manner in which we conduct our evaluations. I could not help but think to myself - “Oh my god, I know exactly what you mean and where you are coming from!”. How I wish I could be present at multiple sessions being conducted simultaneously. This was truly a great learning experience and I look forward to representing Outline India at many more such conferences in the near future.
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