Saturday, April 28, 2012

Another AEA:365: Bloggers Series

Believe it or not, evaluators BLOG. Yes, and some of us Face Book and Tweet!  The American Evaluation Association's Executive Direct Susan Kistler embarked on a fantabulous project this year: highlighting evaluators who blog! 

I joined the ranks of those who blog at the beginning of 2011.  With the economy tight, resources limited, I felt a blog was one way to bring a little bit of in-kind info and education to our clients and others in the fields of evaluation, not-for-profit organizations and public entities working in health-related, risk-reduction programs and behavioral-health models of change.

Maintaining a blog is not easy--I am more often than not swept away by my 'must do' list.  And face it: a blog is just a blog!  So, I am not up to par in terms of cranking out the words as often as I should.  However, because the American Evaluation Association (AEA) decided to feature those of us who slog as well as blog, readers of my blog have the opportunity to read the informative and eye-opening words, thoughts, strategies and techniques belonging to other evaluators who also are AEA members.

Below, I link you to my AEA piece, published today April 27.  Take time to read others in the series (as well as the non-blogger pieces--I've learned so much from my colleagues and I'm sure you will, too!).  I've also cut and pasted the published piece in my blog below.  Enjoy!  

Bloggers Series: Catherine (Brehm) Rain on The Evaluation Forum

My name is Catherine (Brehm) Rain, Vice President of Rain & Brehm Consulting Group, Inc., an independent evaluation and consulting firm located in Rockledge, Florida. I blog at The Evaluation Forum.

Rad Resource – The Evaluation Forum: New to our website, The Evaluation Forum focuses on the why and wherefore of evaluation of health promotion and health-related, risk-reduction programming. The blog targets program personnel with some or no background in the principles, practices, purposes and benefits of program evaluation. Content is basic, and covers issues such as hiring an evaluator, program design, and fidelity (among other future topics). We post new content monthly and expect to increase frequency of postings this year.

Hot Tips – favorite posts: We added our blog in September of this 2011. Thus far, my two favorite posts are

  • 12/11/2011 Fiddling with Fidelity? Fidelity means, in a word: faithfulness. As a former project director and a current evaluation team member specializing in Process Evaluation, I liken adherence to a grant management plan or a program design, to following a recipe for bread pudding. Yes, you can tweak it here and there, if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t, you might end up as I did, with a batch of botched pudding!
Lessons Learned – why I blog: I blog, because I am first and foremost a writer—I write two other blogs non-related to evaluation. Chiefly and with relevance to The Evaluation Forum: I blog to bring basic information to clients and program personnel so that they (a) grow their knowledge about evaluation; (b) apply evaluation principles to program design and implementation; and in so doing (c) maximize outcomes.

Lessons Learned: You have to commit to a blog in the same way you do to a subscribed newsletter: often; and whether you have time for it, or not. It is an adjustment. It also takes time to develop a following—if you want one. Linking posts to our Facebook page has added a ‘friendly community’ factor, as well. Sometimes, folks are a little shy of evaluation and its impact on their organization or project. Finding us on-line or on Facebook with helpful hints or solid information they can use meaningfully, may be the first step we can take as professionals to help our clients and community succeed! (It’s also nice to be ‘liked’!)

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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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