MERL Tech DC
Digital data and new media and information technologies are changing 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.
Alongside these new initiatives, we are seeing increasing documentation and assessment of technology-enabled MERL initiatives. Good practice guidelines 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 has spurred greater attention to areas such as responsible data practice and the development of policies, guidelines and minimum ethical standards for digital data.
Championing 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, independent evaluators, and those at HQ that drive and promote institutional policy and practice.