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Thoughts from MERL Tech UK

MERL Tech UK was a small, intimate gathering by conference standards (just under 100 attendees), but jam-packed full of passion, accumulated wisdom, and practical knowledge. It’s clear that technology is playing an increasingly useful role in helping us with monitoring, evaluation, accountability, research, and learning — but it’s also clear that there’s plenty of room for improvement. As a technology provider, I walked away with both more inspiration and more clarity for the road ahead. Some highlights…

Photos from the Field: Ministry of Agriculture and IDB in Haiti

The Ministry of Agriculture in Haiti (Le Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Ressources Naturelles et du Développement Rural) recently collaborated with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on two impact assessments in Haiti. We connected with Jery Rambao, the field coordinator for the study, and Sébastien Gachot, a rural development specialist at IDB, to learn more about their work.

Expert advice from Faizan Diwan on M&E and digital data collection

We recently interviewed Faizan Diwan, who many of you may know from his work with SurveyCTO. Prior to joining the Dobility team, he spent several years as a Research Manager for Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) in Kenya, where he led multiple large-scale impact evaluations spanning finance, labor, agriculture, and public health, managed the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics in Nairobi, and helped lead IPA Kenya’s efforts to shift from paper-based to tablet-based surveys. We asked him about digital data collection and his advice for others.

Studying the impact of the Right to Education Act in India with RTERC-IIMA

Researchers at the Right to Education Resource Centre of the Indian Institute of Management are studying the implementation of the RTE Act in Indian states, with a special focus on Section 12(1)(c), which mandates that a minimum of 25% of seats in private primary schools be reserved for children from disadvantaged economic backgrounds. Right now, they are working in collaboration with Central Square Foundation (and using SurveyCTO!) to follow up with 2000 children who were part of an earlier study on the impact of different information campaigns on enrolling eligible students in private schools.

The Data Explorer is here!

We are beyond excited to share the new Data Explorer exclusively with SurveyCTO users. Not only that, it’s FREE and INCLUDED with every subscription tier… at least for now. The Data Explorer enables you to view encrypted data in the browser with your own 2048-bit encryption keys, visualize data in an integrated system that detects the data types of their fields and how they should be labeled, and catch data-quality issues from the first day of data-collection.

Population Council: WhatsApp, early marriage, and real-time data

The Population Council conducts research to address critical health and development issues around the world. We recently connected with Andrea J. Melnikas about the Council’s work in empowering and improving the lives of adolescent girls through her research on child marriage. She is using tools like WhatsApp and Google Sheets for real-time monitoring and collaboration in India, Malawi, Mali, and Niger to determine approaches to delay early marriage.

Lessons from scaling up enumerator hiring with Laterite

Laterite is a data, research, and technical advisory firm based in Rwanda and Ethiopia – and uses SurveyCTO for everything from short M&E questionnaires to long, complex impact evaluations in education, health, agriculture, governance, and other sectors. Recently, they started using SurveyCTO in innovative ways to streamline and scale up their enumerator hiring and management processes.

Don’t fall for a sexy pitch!

Maria Jones and Florence Kondylis share hard-won “Lessons from a crowdsourcing failure” in Rwanda in their latest post on the World Bank’s Development Impact blog. (We’re glad that SurveyCTO was part of the solution after they ended their relationship with an unnamed technology partner.)

So you’ve decided to go digital… now what?

So you’ve decided to go digital for your next data collection project. Great decision! Perhaps you were persuaded by some of the benefits of going digital including lower cost, higher-quality data, and more immediate access to your data. Or perhaps you’re just tired of printing pages and pages of paper forms, dragging them around, keeping them organized, and spending hours and hours entering the data you collected by hand. Whatever your reasons, we’re here to help ensure that your first digital data collection project is a success.

Social impact through data with Outline India

Nishmeet Singh is a Senior Research Analyst with Outline India, a research firm focused on impact at the grassroots level through data-driven decision-making. With two degrees in economics and experience working on projects with Save the Children, Girl Rising, Water Aid, and IMPAQ International, we were eager to learn more about his role at Outline India, his advice for other researchers, and his recent research on forced child labor in the mica mining areas of Jharkhand.

SurveyCTO: You don’t need to be a ‘computer genius’ to use it!

With the launch of our drag-and-drop form designer and the free Community edition of SurveyCTO earlier this year, SurveyCTO has become even more accessible for small-scale NGOs, students, and researchers, not to mention users who are just getting started with survey design. We hear wonderful feedback from our users daily, and we thought we’d take this opportunity to share a few recent testimonials.