Cultural Playing Field


The Great Monitoring and Evaluation Debate by Robin Simpson
October 16, 2008, 1:46 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , ,

On Wednesday I was back in London, at Leyton Orient Football Club, to attend the last in a series of seminars on ‘The Great Monitoring and Evaluation Debate’. Organised by Substance, the creators of the SPRS reporting software, the seminar looked at the problems created by the reporting requirements of funders. There is often lots of monitoring but little evaluation and it is rarely done in a way which is useful to the project organisers or participants. The challenge is to move from ‘monitoring and evaluation’ to ‘learning and development’. Substance is now working on the use of open source software tools to combine existing data sets (including mobile phone photos and recordings), rather than requiring extensive collection of new data, and create custom front ends for different funders to allow the evidence to be analysed in the most useful ways. The seminar became a little too focused on software issues and the particular system created by Substance for the Home Office’s ‘Positive Futures’ project, but it still raised some interesting points. It was good to see that some of the organisations represented had started to take a more creative approach to monitoring and evaluation along the lines developed by the Voluntary Arts Wales team. (If you haven’t seen it I strongly recommend the VAW publication, ‘Tear Up Your Tick Boxes’.)

Robin Simpson.

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