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This is the AES Blog, where we regularly post articles by the Australasian evaluation community on the subjects that matter to us. If you have an idea, please contact us at . Blog guidelines can be found here.

 

Reflections on FestEVAL21: advancing evaluation

by Sarah Oxford

The Australian Evaluation Society recently held FestEVAL21, a week of online activities to celebrate evaluation. This year’s event included more than 1,100 registrants with attendance of about 3,000 people across 23 sessions. The engaging session topics ranged from themes addressing practical application such as capability and capacity building in evaluation to encouraging evaluator reflection and behaviour change. FestEVAL gave us ample opportunities to begin this work by platforming experts with diverse life experiences in evaluation.

The topics that caught my interest were the ones that made me look inwards and ask, what can I do to lead evaluations with inclusive and anti-racist practices? As evaluators a lot of our work involves exploring human behaviour change. But what happens when our behaviour and the systems that we work in and through need to change? How can we improve ourselves, our evaluation practices and the systems at large?

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The power of a good conference: from methodology wars to meaningful conversations

By Jade Maloney

There’s still a chill in the air, but the days are starting to lengthen, and you can sense the promise of spring. Must nearly be time for another AES conference.

I remember my first one: Canberra, 2009. I was still ‘green’, 18 months after falling out of publishing and into a role in evaluation. Andrew Leigh had just come out with his proposal for a hierarchy of evidence to inform Australian policy making, and there was an afternoon panel, including Leigh himself, to discuss it. The proposal in itself was nothing new (it drew on models from medical research in the US and social policy in the UK), but it added fuel to the still burning embers of the fire that was (is?) the methodology wars.

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AES 2018 conference reflections: power, values, and food

<pBy Fran Demetriou

The theme of transformations resonated with me. I’m relatively new to evaluation and it’s been an intense journey over the last two years in learning about what evaluation is and how to go about it well. This conference (my first ever evaluation conference) was a pivotal point in that journey.

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Evolving the evaluation deliverable: Ideas from #aes18LST workshop participants

By Gerard Atkinson

Have you ever felt like you have put in a lot of work on an evaluation, only to find that what you have delivered hasn’t had the reach or engagement you expected? I’m not sure I have met an evaluator who hasn’t felt this way at least once in their career.

It was because of this that late last month I led a session at the 2018 Australasian Evaluation Society conference in Launceston, titled “Evolving the evaluation deliverable”.

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All the take-outs from #AES18LST

By the AES blog team

The Launceston conference certainly set us some challenges as evaluators. The corridors of the Hotel Grand Chancellor were abuzz with ideas about how we can transform our practice to make a difference on a global scale, harness the power of co-design on a local level, take up the opportunities presented by gaming, and ensure cultural safety and respect. Since then, the conversations have continued in blogland. Here’s what some of our members had to say.

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How will #aes18LST transform you?

By Jade Maloney

Our world is transforming at a dizzying rate. What does this mean for evaluation and, by extension, evaluators? That’s the question posed by the 2018 Australasian Evaluation Society conference in Launceston this week. So what do our keynotes think?

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Igniting the evaluation fire – lessons from my first Ignite presentation

By Liz Smith

At the 2018 AES conference, Ignite presentations were introduced to light some fire in our evaluation belly. Ignite presentations are a set formula of five minutes and 20 slides with each slide advancing automatically after 15 seconds. Presenters have to concisely and quickly pitch their idea.

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Presenting for audiences - some handy tips for aes19 conference presenters

by Gerard Atkinson

There is less than two weeks to go until the International Evaluation Conference #aes19SYD, taking place on 15 – 19 September here in Sydney. For those presenting at the conference, it’s time to polish off your presentation skills and get your materials ready. In the theme of “unboxing evaluation”, we’ve unboxed the art of developing effective and engaging presentations and put together an easy guide you can use not just in conferences but in any presentation.

The blog posts offers a few tips.

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Opening space for a community of practice

by Jade Maloney

Ever found yourself more engaged in the coffee break than the conference agenda? Ahead of the International Evaluation Conference #aes19SYD unconference day, Ruth McCausland, Kath Vaughan-Davies and I trialled an approach for the Australian Evaluation Society NSW meet-up that combined the best of both worlds – purposeful encounters with a coffee break vibe.

We adapted Open Space Technology, established by Harrison Owen in the 1980s, with the aim of finding “a way towards meetings that have the energy of a good coffee break combined with the substance of a carefully prepared agenda.” The approach has since been used around the world as a way of enabling people to self-organise around purpose.

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AES FestEVAL - Celebrating and Challenging Evaluation!

by Jade Maloney and Lia Oliver

This has been a challenging year, with Covid-19 impacting our home, social and working lives. In a recent survey run by the AES, three-quarters of respondents said their work has been impacted at least moderately – by changing scope and timelines and, in some cases, cancelled contracts. And that’s before we get to the impact Covid-19 has had on our connections and wellbeing.

The Australian Evaluation Society’s (AES) FestEVAL provided opportunity to take time out, celebrate evaluation and connect. It began with four provocations for evaluation in our times, designed to seed conversations that would continue throughout the week.

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