Game Night MERL Tech: Digital Principles edition. Laura Walker McDonald, SIMLab & TBC, Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL)
Enjoy a little light relief with a serious purpose: ever considered using the Principles for Digital Development as evaluation criteria? Help SIMLab and DIAL put this approach to the test: four contestants represent their programs in MERL Tech’s first game show! You the audience will decide who takes home the prize, but you’re all winners: you’ll leave with a new understanding of how to apply these principles as standards to improve programming and shed light on impact.
Our intention here is threefold: to highlight the need to hold projects to an independent standard; to show that the Principles for Digital Development can be used as criteria against which to evaluate projects; and to promote public sharing of evidence and learning from projects. There are two main elements of the session, depending on the length – we may only have time for the gameshow element, which we expect might take 30-45 minutes. Gameshow: a host invites four panelists to briefly ‘introduce themselves’. Actually this will be their chance to show one photo (ideally) or infographic or (if you must) text slide summarizing the project. They will have up to two minutes to explain the project in broad strokes. We will (ahead of time) have semi-randomly selected five of the 9 principles for each participant. We’ll get a spread across the participants! They will be asked to respond only to three of them on the day. We’ll do this in three rounds with each round scored based on transparency and depth of consideration of the principles. We’ll tweet out a summary of the answer and the winner of each round is the most-liked response. AKA this will be a bit of a mess and quite fun, probably a good plenary for a time in the program where people need a lift. It’ll be an opportunity to get the principles up on the board and for people to try to get their teeth into what they mean in practice, and a bit of fun. Winners: we will probably have a bag of sweets or something for everyone, but there might be someone who ‘wins’ according to Twitter. I think the point to make is that this doesn’t matter, it’s important to share. However, using Twitter to score does mean that the more honest reflections will more than likely get a stronger response.
If there’s time: Panel. Informally, probably standing in the same place or slightly moved around for interest: ten minutes of informal reflection from a DIAL representative, an experienced evaluator, and maybe a donor to the Principles – reflecting on what the session has provoked – can the Principles be used in this way? What are the challenges? How might they compare to, say, SIMLab’s adapted OECD-DAC criteria? What is the potential of this approach for things like comparable evaluations across multiple projects?
Laura Walker McDonald, Chief Executive Officer, the Social Impact Lab. Through the Social Impact Lab, Laura supports people and organizations around the world to use inclusive technologies to make systems and services more accessible, responsive, and resilient. Drawing on her expertise in humanitarian aid, human rights law and international development, she brings a cross-disciplinary approach to communications, innovation and information management. Before coming to SIMLab, Laura worked for the British Red Cross on international humanitarian policy and learning, focussed on quality and accountability, innovation, cash transfer programming, civil-military relations, and strategic planning. Laura holds an LL.B (Hons) in Law, French and German from the University of the West of England, Bristol, and an LL.M in International Development Law and Human Rights from Warwick University. Find more about her here, on Twitter @techladylaura or at the Social Impact Lab.