Cover image: The Virtues of Virtual MEL

The Virtues of Virtual MEL: Strong Evidence, Wide Engagement, Inclusive Learning

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Resource author(s): Sarah Smith Lunsford, Jonathan Jones, Sarah Smith Lunsford, Jonathan Jones

Key topics: Learning and Capacity Strengthening, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research, Technical Assistance

Regions: Global

Related countries: Global


A decade before COVID-19 forced a global pivot away from in-person programming, EnCompass was already integrating virtual MEL approaches. Participatory virtual design, data collection, and learning sessions use resources efficiently and bring stakeholders together across geographies, including individuals who might not be able to participate otherwise.

Virtual monitoring, evaluation, and learning activities help avoid delays, reduce cost and footprint, increase participation coverage, and even enhance evaluation rigor. This brief highlights some of the benefits and opportunities of working with EnCompass for effective virtual monitoring, evaluation, and learning. The authors present how our participatory design, data collection, and learning approaches use resources efficiently in virtual settings.

Importantly, virtual MEL brings together stakeholders from across geographies, including those who might not be able to participate otherwise. EnCompass uses context-appropriate technology, from WhatsApp to Adobe Connect, and cutting-edge virtual facilitation techniques to ensure meaningful stakeholder participation that parallels face-to-face engagement. This allows an organization to gain the insight into the progress and challenges facing a program—insight that is essential for MEL, even if activities occur from a distance.

This brief may be considered a companion piece to EnCompass’ resource on evaluation during the COVID-19 pandemic: An Evaluator’s Guide to COVID-19: Using Evaluative Thinking to Learn and Adapt Programs. This publication is also available in Spanish.

Courtney Carr

Written by

Communications Specialist

Courtney Carr is EnCompass’ Communications Specialist, supporting the internal and external messaging and communications initiatives. She brings her knowledge and skills in writing, social media, video production, event planning and television news and radio production to the position. Before joining EnCompass, Ms. Carr worked at Community Science as a business development coordinator. She received her BA in Broadcast Journalism at Pennsylvania State University and holds a MA in Strategic Communication from American University.

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