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Archive for the ‘OERC’ Category

Excel Dashboards at Chandoo.org

Monday, December 14th, 2015

[Guest post by Cindy Olney, OERC]

Chandoo.org is a website that excels at Excel.  More specifically, it provides an extensive collection of resources to help the rest of us use Excel effectively.  There’s something for everyone at this website, whether you’re a basic or advanced user. Today, however. I want to specifically talk about Chandoo.org’s resources on building data dashboards with Excel.

Data dashboards are THE cool new data tools. A dashboard is a reporting format that allows stakeholders to view and interact with program or organizational data, exploring their own questions and interests. When the OERC offered a basic data dashboard webinar several years ago, we hit our class limit within hours of opening registration. If you are unfamiliar with data dashboards, here are slides from a presentation by Buhler, Lewellen, and Murphy that describe and provide samples of data dashboards. .

Tableau seems to have grabbed the limelight as the go-to software for data dashboard development. Yet it may not be accessible to many of our blog readers.  It’s expensive and, unless you are a data analyst savant, Tableau may require a fair amount of training.

The good news is that Excel software is a perfectly fine tool for creating data dashboards. Some of the best known data visualization folks in the American Evaluation Association (AEA) are primarily Excel users. Stephanie Evergreen of Evergreen Data  and Ann Emery write popular blogs about data visualizations built from Excel. At the AEA’s annual conference in November, I attended a presentation by Miranda Lee of EvaluATE on creating dashboards with Excel.  She has some how-to dashboarding videos in the works that will be available to the public in the near future. (We’ll let our blog readers know when they become available.)

There are free resources all over the Internet if you are good at do-it-yourself training.  However, for a modest fee, Chandoo.org offers a more systematic class on how to design a data dashboard with Excel. Depending on how many resources you want to take away from the class, the cost is between $97 (online viewing only) and $247 (downloads and extra modules). I have not taken the class yet, but I have heard positive feedback about Chandoo.org’s other courses and have plans to take this class in the near future.

If you are an Excel user but don’t see dashboard-building in your future, you still may find a wealth of useful tips and resources about Excel at Chandoo.org. My favorite is this list of 100+ Excel tips. I attended several data dashboard sessions at the AEA conference last month. The word on the street is that Microsoft is rising to the challenge to develop its data visualization capabilities.  Apparently, each new release is better than the last.  It may be getting easier to work dashboard magic with Excel.

Measuring What Matters in Your Social Media Strategy

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

[Guest post by Karen Vargas] We’re all trying to find ways to improve evaluation of our social media efforts. It’s fun to count the number of retweets, and the number of ‘likes’ warms our hearts.  But there’s a nagging concern to evaluators – are these numbers meaningful?

Your intrepid OERC Team, Cindy and Karen, attended a program at the American Evaluation Association conference in Chicago called “Do Likes Save Lives? Measuring What Really Matters in Social Media and Digital Advocacy Efforts,” presented by Lisa Hilt and Rebecca Perlmutter of Oxfam.  The purpose of their presentation was to build knowledge and skills in planning and measuring social media strategies, setting digital objectives, selecting meaningful indicators and choosing the right tools and approaches for analyzing social media data.

What was interesting about this presentation is that the presenters did not want to rely solely on what they called “vanity metrics,” for example the number of “impressions” or “likes.”  Alone these metrics show very little actual engagement with the information.  Instead they chose to focus on specific social media objectives based on their overall digital strategy.

Develop a digital strategy

  • Connect the overall digital strategy to campaign objectives: (for example: To influence a concrete change in policy, or to change the debate on a particular issue.)

Develop social media objectives

  • You want people to be exposed to your message
  • Then you want people to engage with it somehow (for example, sharing your message) or make them work with it somehow (for example: sign an online petition after reading it).

Collect specific information based on objectives

  • Collect data about social media engagement supporting your objectives that can be measured (for example “the Oxfam Twitter campaign drove 15% of the readers to signing its petition” vs. “we got 1500 likes”)

The presenters suggested some types of more meaningful metrics:

  • On Twitter you can look at the number of profiles who take the action you want them to take, and then the number of tweets or retweets about your topic.
  • For Facebook, the number of likes, shares and comments mean that your audience was definitely exposed to your message.
  • Changes in the rate of likes or follows (for example if you normally get 5 new followers to your fan page a week, but due to a particular campaign strategy, you suddenly started getting 50 new followers a week)
  • Number of “influential” supporters (for example, being retweeted by Karen Vargas is not the same as being retweeted by Wil Wheaton).
  • Qualitative analysis: Consider analyzing comments on Facebook posts, or conversation around a hashtag in Twitter.

Overall, your goal is to have a plan for how you would like to see people interact with your messages in relation to your overall organizational and digital strategies, and find metrics to see if your plan worked.

Collecting and Analyzing Evaluation Data

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

You are invited to join us for our upcoming webinars in a four-part series on Planning & Evaluating Health Information Outreach Projects.

Register on our training calendar.

Collecting and Analyzing Evaluation Data
Thursday, January 14th 10:30 – 11:30 AM ET
The National Network of Libraries of Medicine Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) leadership will go over the ins and outs of data collection methods. We will learn how to analyze data for quantitative methods and qualitative methods.

Health Information Outreach Project Planning and Evaluation Showcase
Tuesday, April 12th 10:30 – 11:30 AM ET
Share your completed worksheets and activities from the Planning and Evaluating Health Information Outreach Projects booklets. The showcase is open to all NER network members interested to learn more about getting started with community-based outreach, planning outcomes-based outreach projects, and collecting and analyzing evaluation data.

If you missed the first webinars and would like to view the recordings, please contact Michelle Eberle at michelle.eberle@umassmed.edu.

If you participate in all four sessions of this project, you will receive 8 Medical Library Association Consumer Health Information Specialization credits.  You will only need 4 other credits to qualify for the MLA CHIS Level 1.

This project is led by Margot Malachowski (Baystate Health), Michelle Eberle (NN/LM NER), Cindy Olney (NN/LM OERC), and Karen Vargas (NN/LM OERC) and sponsored by the NN/LM Healthy Communities COI (Community of Interest).

Take The Pie, Leave The Pie Chart

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

[guest post by Cindy Olney, OERC]

Evaluation and data visualization folks may disagree on the best pie to serve at Thanksgiving dinner.  Pumpkin?  Pecan?  A nice silk pie made with chocolate liqueur and tofu? (Thank you, Alton Brown.)

You see, the whole point of charts is to give people an instantaneous understanding of your findings.  Your readers can easily discern differences in bars and lines.  In wedges of pie, not so much. Data visualization expert Stephen Few explained the problem during this interview with the New York Times: “When looking at parts of a whole, the primary task is to rank them to see the relative performance of the parts. That can’t be done easily when relying on angles formed by a slice.”

(Note:  This parts-to-whole angle problem may also explain why most of us can’t understand how our Whole Foods pumpkin pie could possibly have eight servings. Eight? Are you kidding me?)

So, for today’s pre-Thanksgiving holiday post, I thought I would point you to some online articles about the much used and much vilified pie chart.

First, here’s an article by American Evaluation Association’s president-elect John Gargani, arguing for retirement of the venerable pie chart.  He make points that are repeated in many anti-pie chart blog posts.  But in the interest of objectivity, you should know that agreement to send pie charts to the cosmic dust bin is not universal. Here’s a post by Bruce Gabrielle of Speaking PowerPoint that describes situations where pie charts can shine.

In general, most experts believe that the times and places to use pie charts are few and far between. If you have found one of those rare times, then here’s a post at Better Evaluation with the design tips to follow.

But for heaven sake, turn off that three-dimensional feature in your pie chart, or in any chart, for that matter. Nobody wants to see that!

And for humorous examples of what not to do, check out Michael Friendly’s Evil Pies blog.

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