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Background: After attending professional evaluation conferences, and having the privilege of listening to the founders of the discipline of Evaluation, the author reflects on how the new generation of evaluators should aspire to upgrade their role in society by making the most of the tools and social dynamics of new technologies, and exploring ways in which evaluation could operate in both present and future scenarios.
Purpose: To foster democratic evaluation as a powerful tool for more democratic government, by expanding traditional ways of reaching the community, either as evaluation participants or traditional funders, leveraged through new technologies.
Setting: Not applicable.
Intervention: Not applicable.
Research Design: Not applicable.
Data Collection and Analysis: Not applicable.
Findings: There are powerful potential synergies that the evaluation community could explore between participatory evaluation approaches –such as democratic evaluation– and the democratization (democratic: for all those individuals who have internet access) of participation facilitated by new technologies –in terms of voting, giving opinion, donating or contributing in some way via internet. .
One of these possibilities is known as Crowdsourcing: asking services, ideas, or content to a large group of people, and especially from an online community. This alternative has started to be used in many disciplines. In particular, two crowdsourcing modalities have been found to be directly applicable:
- Crowdvoting: asking the public's opinion regarding certain matters, not only in the data collection phase of the evaluation, but in the phases of analysis and judging, or even in the evaluation design, as a way of introducing other voices into the evaluation process.
- Crowdfunding: asking citizens to contribute with small amounts of money to support the evaluation of public services and programmes, as an alternative to depending solely on the funding decisions of traditional decision-makers. This can be very pertinent in cases where decision-makers are not following the general interest and democratic evaluation appears to be the best approach to follow for citizens to try to induce a change of policy.
However, further research is needed to explore these and other modalities and synergies, with special emphasis on experimentation to test such hypotheses.
Copyright 2016 Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, Western Michigan University.