Focus on mentoring in evaluation and communication: ROER4D attends the DECI-2 workshop

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Members of the ROER4D Network Hub, the DECI-2 team and OCSDNet attend the DECI-2 workshop in Cape Town

The ROER4D team represented by PI Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams, Tess Cartmill, Sarah Goodier and Sukaina Walji recently attended the Developing Evaluation & Communication Capacity in Information Society Research (DECI-2) project workshop held in Cape Town from 3-5 May 2016. As one of DECI-2’s partner projects, the ROER4D team members were invited to participate in this workshop as DECI-2 are supporting ROER4D with mentoring in both evaluation and communications. IDRC Senior Programme Officer Matthew Smith also joined the workshop, which proved to be a fruitful opportunity for knowledge sharing, networking and reflection.

DECI-2 is an IDRC-funded project that provides capacity development in communication and evaluation for other IDRC-funded projects in the Networked Economies Program (formerly the Information and Networks Program (I&N)). Ricardo Ramirez, Dal Brodhead, Julius Nyangaga and Charles Dhewa have acted as mentors for Sarah and Sukaina in particular. The mentoring covers both Utilization-focused Evaluation (UFE) and research communication (ResComm). UFE is a 12-step decision-making framework that structures and guides project evaluation in order to maximise use of the evaluation findings by the project team (more on UFE here). UFE is a very iterative process, accommodating a wide range of evaluation methods, through which the evaluator and the project team work closely together to plan for and implement the evaluation. The mentoring in ResComm helps the project plan communications objectives and purposes, interactions with stakeholders and sharing of findings. The goal of this mentoring in both areas is to help research projects evaluate their activities and increase their effectiveness.

DECI-2 has provided ROER4D with mentoring, through online and face-to-face sessions, as well as lesson sharing. Through this mentoring process, ROER4D has iteratively designed and implemented evaluation and communications plans with ongoing and iterative feedback from DECI-2. To feed into DECI-2’s learnings and future planning, Sukaina Walji (ROER4D Communications Advisor) and Sarah Goodier (ROER4D Evaluation Advisor) presented on ROER4D’s experience of this mentoring process, highlighting what worked and what could possibly be improved. Following the presentation, the DECI-2 team and IDRC funder representatives asked questions concerning social media channel monitoring, gave comments and suggestions around project activities and discussed the supportive environment needed for both evaluation and communication functions to be effective and feasible. i.

Also presenting at the DECI-2 workshop were Becky Hillyer from the Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network as well as Dr Alison Gillwald and Chenai Chair from Research ICT Africa (RIA network). Each of these projects have also worked with the DECI team around their evaluation and communication components, and it was fascinating for the ROER4D team to learn how other projects have implemented communications and evaluation functions and what challenges they have faced.

This workshop and presentation was an important reflective moment for the ROER4D Network Hub team, especially for evaluation and communications. Working with the DECI-2 project has provided a valuable support base and sounding board for our project and we look forward to continuing to work with Ricardo, Dal, Julius and Charles going forward.

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