A few weeks ago, we shared an interesting conversation on our platform about participatory evaluation possibilities in times of covid-19.
Many of you had already demonstrated great optimism and confidence that it could work and today we are pleased to be able to back this up with a little more information.
As you know, online formats have become the safest, if not the only, way to build capacity in these pandemic times. This has also been understood by the EvalYouth initiative and Focelac project leaders who have arranged a series of online workshops aimed at strengthening the capacity of young and/or emerging evaluators (YEEs) in the region. The University of Costa Rica has taught a Masters in Evaluation for over 17 years and is now delivering its program fully online and asked us to participate in the section on Participatory Evaluation which features in the modules on evaluation approaches for the Latin American reality.
Participatory Evaluation is one of the themes prioritised by EvalYouth and so EvalParticipativa has contributed by offering suggestions on how to design courses, technical content and even by imparting some of the sessions. The first sessions, which were still face-to-face, were given in the second semester of 2019 in Mexico and Costa Rica in collaboration with the Mexican Association of Evaluators (Aceval); EvalYouth chapters in Mexico and Costa Rica; and Focelac representatives.
On 24 – 28 August 2020, now in full pandemic, Janett Salvador and Azucena Hernández (Aceval), in collaboration with Alfredo Domínguez from EvalYouth Mexico, repeated this training for Mexican YEEs online.
The workshop included three teaching blocks: (1) Presentation of theoretical aspects; (2) practical activities with ICT tools; and (3) showcasing examples of success.
In addition, on 29 October, Juan Sanz, member of the EvalParticipativa coordinator team, organised an online workshop for YEEs from Bolivia and Ecuador, also as part of EvalYouth and Focelac’s joint initiative. Those who participated in the workshop were able to reflect on what participatory evaluation is, what it contributes and what challenges it presents.
The online character of the workshop meant that we could share many testimonies and experiences from the EvalParticipativa community, positioning our initiative as a lynchpin for capacity building.
Finally, Esteban Tapella, another member of the EvalParticipativa coordinator team, held a class on 7 November for young participants of the Masters in Evaluation at the University of Costa Rica.
It covered conceptual and methodological issues for Participatory Evaluation in addition to analysing its advantages and limitations using the case study of the Cancer Prevention and Treatment Services in Valle de la Estrella in the province of Limón.
As the region’s YEEs display an open willingness to incorporate innovation and learning, we paid special attention to adapting or developing techniques that facilitated continual interaction with the participants through online formats.
Those responsible for preparing and moderating the online workshops tested a variety of resources and used a combination of exercises prepared previously on PowerPoint, interactive possibilities through Zoom, collaborative work spaces on platforms such as Padlet or Jamboard and learning game resources through applications such as World Wall. A series of video testimonies from members of Evalparticipativa were also used based on their own experiences and lessons on the topic. These were used as conversation starters to spark off online interactive debates.
We hope, as we are sure you also do, that the limitations caused by covid-19 will soon be part of the past. But we are convinced that the possibilities offered by online training are here to stay.
Therefore, we would like you to share your own experiences of applying and using online work tools in training settings or to facilitate processes.
There is no doubt that this is a subject that we still have a lot to learn about but it is so good to know that here we have this fantastic community of practice and learning to learn with!