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Archive for June, 2014

Freebie Friday: OERC Data Burger Webinar

veggie burger via Flickr
Veggie burger by Dan McKay, Flickr Creative Commons license

The Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) was pleased to present our Data Burger: A “Good” Questionnaire Response Rate plus Basic Quantitative Data Analysis webinar for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, New England Region (NN/LM NER) Health Care Workforce Community of Interest (COI) this week. Thanks to NER for freely sharing the 1 hour webcast recording at https://webmeeting.nih.gov/p87ze5jc0do/.

Are you interested in this and other webinar training sessions the OERC has to offer? You can learn more about Data Burger and others from our presentation listing at http://nnlm.gov/evaluation/workshops/ and let us or your Regional office know that you’d like us to present a webinar. We welcome the opportunity to work with you!

 

Freebie Friday: American Evaluation Association Online Public Library

As we at the Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) learn more about great evaluation resources available at an even better price (free!) in addition to our own freely available resources (http://guides.nnlm.gov/oerc/tools), we will feature some of them here for you to explore on ‘Freebie Friday’ as an occasional series.

To begin our coverage, did you know the American Evaluation Association (AEA) has an online public library of AEA conference presentations, assessment instruments (such as rubrics and logic models), and more available at http://comm.eval.org/communities/resources/libraryview/? The default library setting displays those files most recently updated in the online library and offers keyword searching, but I recommend going straight to the more advanced search functionality at http://comm.eval.org/communities/resources/searchlibrary/.

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Brush Up On Your Excel Skills

If you do evaluation, you likely use Excel.  So I recommend bookmarking this web page of short videos with excellent instructions and practical tips for analyzing data with Excel.  Ann Emery produced these videos, most of which are 2-5 minutes long. Some cover the basics, such as how to calculate descriptive statistics. If you find pivot tables difficult to grasp, there’s a short video describing the different components.  For the experienced user, there are videos about more advanced topics such as how to automate dashboards using Excel and Word.

Emery is an evaluator and data analyst with Innovation Network in Washington, DC.  She has a special interest in data visualization and covers that and other topics in her blog, also available at her website.

SlideDocs help you create readable reports

Thanks to evolving Internet and mobile technology, most of us now prefer our information presented in tapas-sized quantities, preferably in a visually appealing way. This preference is having an impact on our business communication. Before our eyes, bullet points on PowerPoint slides are gradually giving away to engaging visuals. Infographics are replacing text-dense brochures and executive summaries.

Nancy Duarte, who is motivating  the world to clean up its PowerPoint presentations, is venturing into a new frontier: Written reports. She suggests creating reports using presentation software like PowerPoint, which is more amenable to manipulating layouts. The idea is to present one idea per slide, incorporating visuals, text and much-appreciated white space.

Duarte calls this type of report a SlideDoc and offers a free tutorial on how to create one (presented in, you guessed it, a PowerPoint document). The site includes downloadable templates to help you create your own SlideDoc report. You also can find Duarte’s Diagrammer here, which I wrote about in a previous post.  I believe, at this point, that I should state explicitly that I do not own stock in her company. I just love her approach to presenting ideas and I think evaluation reports would be read and heard by more people if we all started using her guidelines.

As someone who wants to stop producing coma-inducing reports, I have tried my hand at creating more engaging layouts using Microsoft Word. What I learned is this: Take your anticipated timeline for report-writing and double it. Word does not lend itself to interesting layouts, so inserting pictures, graphs, and call-out quotes is like putting shoes on a toddler. You can do it, but it’s probably going to make you late.

Consequently, my results have been underwhelming.

So I‘m excited to try SlideDocs. I already can see how much more flexible PowerPoint will be for arranging text, images, and graphs. I won’t be wasting time adjusting margins and re-positioning graphs that always seem to wander around in Word documents. I also like that I don’t have to learn a new software application, nor do I have to get my audience to download a special reader to view my reports.

Just remember: Shorter isn’t easier when it comes to reports. These “to-the-point” SlideDocs require that you know both your findings and your audience extremely well so you can communicate the most important information in the most succinct way. SlideDocs will help with the layout, but you still have to do the thinking.