Digital data and new media and information technologies are changing how we do monitoring, evaluation, research and learning (MERL). The past five years have seen technology-enabled MERL growing by leaps and bounds.

From adaptive management and ‘developmental evaluation’; to faster, higher-quality data collection; to remote data gathering through sensors and self-reporting by mobile; to big data and social media analytics; to story-triggered methodologies —  the field is in constant flux with emerging methods, tools and approaches.

At the same time, documentation and assessment of technology-enabled MERL initiatives is coming into its own. Good practice guidelines and new frameworks are emerging and agency-level efforts are making new initiatives easier to start, build on and improve.

The swarm of ethical questions related to these new methods and approaches is only becoming more complex as big data analytics, artificial intelligence, biometrics and remote monitoring techniques become more common. This has spurred greater to attention responsible data practice and the development of policies, guidelines and minimum ethical frameworks and standards for digital data.

Championing all the above is a growing and diversifying community of MERL practitioners, assembling from a variety of fields; hailing from a range of starting points; espousing different core frameworks and methodological approaches; and representing innovative field implementers, start-ups and social enterprises, data scientists, independent evaluators, those at HQ that drive and promote institutional policy and practice, and donor agencies who support and often shape this work and the strategic areas related to it.

Join us for one of our next MERL Tech Conferences to engage in these discussions!

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