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

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

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.