A resource kit for evaluating community IT projects
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Resources for evaluation and community development

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Information Sheets

Evaluation Information Sheet
Evaluation is usually defined as assessing the value, worth or merit of something. It is something that we all do everyday and can therefore be readily built into community projects and initiatives.

Brainstorming Information Sheet
The purpose of brainstorming is to come up with as many ideas as possible in a short space of time. The idea is to free up the imagination and come up with new ideas about goals, the project or anything that's important to your group.

Facilitation Information Sheet
Facilitation is best learned through observation and experience as you will learn from mistakes and from the meetings or workshops that did not work very effectively as well as from those that worked effectively.

Focus Groups Information Sheet
Focus groups typically consist of four to twelve participants who are encouraged to explore ideas and insights about a specific topic presented to them by a researcher. In contrast to the survey, where the interviewer takes the lead, focus groups allow greater scope for respondents to consider and reflect upon issues that they consider important. Focus groups are a good way to explore participants' opinions, experiences, concerns, needs and desires about programs, services or products. They are hence very useful in conducting evaluations.

Toolkits

Ethnographic Action Research
This method for the research and development of ICT projects is based on combining two research approaches: ethnography and action research. Ethnography is a research approach that has traditionally been used to understand different cultures. Action research is used to bring about new activities through new understandings of situations. We use ethnography to guide the research process and we use action research to link the research back to the project's plans and activities. A 'Methods Toolbox' on key tools such as in-depth interviews, surveys and feedback mechanisms is included in this publication.

Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation
This site provides advice, methods tools and manuals to promote evaluation that involves a wide range of stakeholders, and allows a more equal opportunity for the expression of views and sharing of lessons.

Gender Evaluation Methodology
This website is a guide to integrating gender analysis into evaluations of initiatives that use information and communication technologies for social change. It provides a means for determining whether IT is really improving women's lives and gender relations as well as promoting positive change at the individual, institutional, community and broader societal levels.

Citizen Science Toolbox
A free resource of principles and strategies to enhance meaningful stakeholder involvement in decision-making. The website inclues over 60 community involvement tools, from public meetings to consensus conferences; case studies of the uses of various tools and the reflections of stakeholders who participated; an annotated bibliography of over 500 citizen science references; and theoretical discussions of citizen science issues.

Community Tool Box
A substantial component of the online Community Tool Box collection are the 'how-to' sections, which use simple, friendly language to explain how to undertake the different tasks necessary for community development.

Interactive Learning Systems Evaluation
This website introduces the Interactive Learning Systems Evaluation book and also includes downloadable tools and guidance about how to use them in various types of evaluation. The resource has been designed for novice, as well as experienced, evaluators to help them plan, conduct, and report better evaluations as they develop interative learning systems or products (such as DVDs, web-based training, electronic performance support systems and e-learning solutions). The book encompasses six functions or levels of evaluation and various chapters in the book link evaluation procedures and tools to specific design and implementation activities.
 

Community development

Community participation and consultation
This website considers the social and economic benefits of consulting with communities and ensuring they can actively participate in the preparation of community development strategies. Several examples are provided of how consultation and participation processes were undertaken in different communities.

Learning Communities
Provides access to an array of reports, publications and links that directly relate to how the learning community model can be used to build on social and human capital to encourage sustainable economic development and social inclusion.

Community IT

Making the Net Work – Creating Online Networks
This website is designed to help those planning to take their organisation or neighbourhood online, or create local technology centres. A range of resources are offered together with a collection of tools that support a people-centered, realistic approach to communities and information technology.

Albany Gateway
This Gateway for the Great Southern region of Western Australia, is a living, interactive, web portal showcasing the people, places, events and industry of an ever growing community on-line. All content on this community on-line site has been provided and created by the people of the Great Southern using a distributed publishing system. This is why Gateway has become known as the "People's Portal!"

The Association for Community Networking
This organisation is dedicated to fostering and supporting community-based creation & provision of appropriate technology services, otherwise known as community networking. The website provides an array of resources, information and interactive tools which contribute to the visibility, viability and vitality of community networking by assisting and connecting people and organizations, building public awareness, identifying best practices, encouraging research, influencing policy, and developing products & services.

Publications

Final Report on the LEARNERS project
This report details case studies, findings and outcomes from the LEARNERS project, which was conducted from 2001 - 2004. The project was undertaken in collaboration with two communities in rural Queensland - the Tara and Stanthorpe Shires - and five industry partners. It involved implementing and conducting an ongoing evaluation of a participatory process for evaluating community-based communication and information technology (C&IT). Chapter 1 outlines the objectives and significance of the LEARNERS project. We briefly describe the LEARNERS process which was trialled in the project, the main project activities, and the evaluation methods that were used. Chapter 2 outlines the process involved in selecting the Tara and Stanthorpe communities which participated in the trial of the LEARNERS process and presents case studies of these two communities. A detailed analysis of the impacts of the project on participants and their communities is presented in Chapter 3. This includes a profile of the participants, and an analysis of the empowering and disempowering impacts and effects of the project, the barriers to participation and empowerment, and the broader impacts of the project. The process involved in developing the EvaluateIT kit, community feedback on the kit, and the contents of the final version of the kit are outlined in Chapter 4. Drawing on the findings of the project, critical success strategies for conducting and evaluating PAR and community C&IT projects and learnings from the project for other researchers and government workers are presented in Chapter 5. The key findings and conclusions are discussed in Chapter 6, which also lists recommendations for further research and community capacity building programs.

Interim Report on the LEARNERS project
This report outlines the methods, activities and preliminary findings and outcomes of the LEARNERS project. Case studies of the two participating rural communities and the evaluations they conducted of their IT projects are included.

Including a Diversity of Rural Women in a Communication Technology Project
Community networking and interactive communication technology projects based on feminist or social justice principles usually aim to include a broad diversity of community members. Groups often targeted include women, indigenous people, people of non-English speaking backgrounds or with low incomes, and people living in rural and remote areas. The inclusion and empowerment of rural people has become increasingly important in Australia as governments and community development practitioners seek new community-based solutions to the sustainability of rural and remote communities.

Rural Women's Empowerment in an ICT Project
This paper presents selected findings from the evaluation of a feminist action research project that aimed to enhance Queensland rural women's access to interactive communication technologies (ICTs). Project activities aimed to be empowering and inclusive. They included online conversation groups, workshops and audioconferences. A model of women's empowerment is used that comprises social, technological, political and psychological forms of empowerment. The evaluation results suggest that many participants experienced each of these forms of empowerment. The online group welink (women's electronic link) was considered particularly important in facilitating women's empowerment. However, the analysis also indicated various disempowering effects of participating in the project. Case studies of two participants illustrate these contradictory effects. These results suggest that enhancing rural women's technological empowerment is urgently required, given that use of ICTs is becoming increasingly important to their leadership and participation in community development. Strategies for enhancing rural women's empowerment are suggested.