I’ve been reflecting on the American Evaluation Association’s (AEA) EvalTalk listserv, its new platform, and how hard it is to use new platforms. My reflections have increased my empathy for the clients I work with on evaluation projects.
I wonder what communication platforms and file storage systems you use and have been asked to use. My list grows longer as I work with different client groups. The last group I worked with used Slack. I learned Slack. The group before that relied on text messaging. My personal phone turned into a work phone with text messages flying around. Another group relied on Google Workspace: Chat and Drive. At the same time, I had another group using Box plus email. I had to learn Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint, Discord, Wrike and Dropbox. A professional organization that I belong to uses Basecamp and AEA now uses Higher Logic’s Connect. And then there’s meeting software such as Zoom, Skype, Teams, and Meet. On top of these communication platforms are evaluator tools such as software for surveys and interviews, transcription, statistics, data visualization, and data analysis/interpretation.
Part of me longs for the days of using snail mail and phone. And the other part longs for everyone to use the same platforms because remembering to log into multiple platforms and taking time to learn new platforms is challenging. But asking or expecting folks to use the same platforms is not feasible. Each group needs to continue to use what works best for them. So, I embrace the benefits of life-long learning to motivate me to learn new platforms and learn how to use them effectively.
More importantly, I have a renewed empathy for clients’ and stakeholders’ time. Even for those clients who value evaluation, it’s likely not built into their regular workday/week/month. During the evaluation project, they have to do new things and sometimes it’s not comfortable or easy. I’m grateful for their time. The least I can do is learn what platform works best for them and learn to use it effectively.