Visual storytelling: Learning from MERL through visuals. Matt Baker, USAID LEARN
This lightning talk will discuss when, how and what to do in order to understand and tell stories with MERL data. We will describe key ways, means and tips on how to tell stories visually and use data to influence and improve your work.
As evaluators, we know from experience that in order for MERL data to lead to learning and adapting, the findings themselves need to be easily accessible. One way USAID’s Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) and its support contract, USAID LEARN make MERL data more accessible in reports and meetings is through visual storytelling. We use metaphors, doodles and designs to translate what our MERL data is telling us for both internal continuous learning and external knowledge sharing purposes. We also visually represent evaluation findings, telling the story of the journey of the program and the principles that guide it, can improve understanding and spark evidence-based decision-making. To visualize our MERL data, we use several online tools and applications as well as pen and paper. This includes platforms to visualize networks of stakeholders to identify gaps and key interlocutors, map out relationships between data and ideas to understand the flow and type of contribution and synthesize data to test assumptions and provide areas for learning. This lightning talk will be useful for evaluators who are looking for creative ways to share their MERL data that accurately tells their story and compels learning into action.
Matt Baker, Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Specialist, LEARN. Matt is a Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Specialist with the USAID LEARN team. He has a development background focusing on democracy and governance, including leveraging network analyses to inform and apply to both internal organizational issues and international development programming. He has lived in Burma/Myanmar and Sudan and possesses degrees from University of Oxford and Columbia University. More about Matt at LEARN.