Today's webinar, "Evaluating Digital Literacy Programs" was packed with valuable information on how libraries and nonprofits might approach and implement an evaluation of a technology program. We were excited to collaborate with Community Technology Network on this event, and thrilled by the useful information experts shared.
The webinar began with Erick Ruiz' presentation of evaluation basics. He covered a lot of ground and highlighted practical steps for starting and implementing an evaluation project. His measured and thoughtful presentation style laid out the basics without being overwhelming. The folks on twitter shared:
The slides (located from the archive page and via slideshare) do a very good job of covering key questions and methods for determining return on investment (ROI). Look to them for a set of detailed steps to start your next evaluation project.
Next up was Linda Hofschire from the CO State Library, who shared real stories about her experiences evaluating a very large project funded by Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) funds. Folks participating via chat were very excited about her project, and one participant gushed,
I'm jealous of Colorado libraries."
While Linda admitted that their project "has a lot of moving parts," she and her team have a handle on how to evaluate it, and even better: on why evaluation is important. What was clear in this presentation was the "why"--even if you aren't reporting to a funder, measuring your success, understanding your impact, and communicating your impact are crucial to engaging stakeholders, funders, and voters.
Watch the archive
If you missed the webinar, don't fear: the archive is here! Sit back and watch the archive on your own time and learn from the experts.
When I help out on webinars--I was busy answering questions and sharing information in the chat room--I enter a sort of post-webinar haze when the presentation closes. As my mind wandered while I was pondered what just transpired, I couldn't help but wonder about the many folks I've talked to who reported they didn't know what "BTOP" was. It turns out that a large percentage of these libraries are receiving funds from BTOP via their state library, and I wonder if this is a missed opportunity. From what I've learned from BTOP libraries, grant work is mostly handled by the State Libraries and folks hired specifically to work on these projects. Folks working at the library receiving the fruits of funds and of their labor might not be involved in the implementation, so they may not be aware of the actual program. If folks at the libraries benefiting from BTOP funds (technology, training, improved bandwidth) don't know it, and thereby aren't talking about the benefit of stimulus funds to their community, community members might not underestand where these programs and technologies come from, and that they aren't really free. They might not also appreciate that they are benefitting from a lot of work and committment from the agencies that turned those dollars into resources the community uses. Is this a missed opportunity? Could be. Advocacy is everyone's job these days and the more we tout our programs, the more chance folks will join up and support us.