Outcome-Based Evaluation Training Wrap-Up
At the end of the Outcome-Based Evaluation (OBE) training, I was wishing we had about two more hours to work. When you start to apply OBE to a program idea, like we did at the end of the day, it's very clear where your planning isn't complete. This is really useful, but it can be a little discouraging too.
Here's a quick example of ours. SWON has gotten a number of requests for information about creative spaces in libraries. Places where library users can work on audio or video projects, build with 3D printers or other tools, and create the content libraries are well known for helping to distribute. When we talk about these ideas, we tend to focus on what the library will do: reallocate or renovate space, purchase equipment and software, get everything set up. In OBE terms, these setup tasks are called Program Activities. This is just one part of the equation.
It's easy to focus on what we're going to do and gloss over what library users will do. After all, we're talking about a creative space. We offer the tools; they use the tools to be creative. If you're deciding how to measure the program's success, though, you have to create goals for program participants. Want users to create 10 videos in your library's proposed studio? Who will teach them to use the software? How will you tell people there's a studio in the first place?Where will the videos get shared? The activities directly delivered to participants are called Program Services in OBE.
Pretty quickly, what had seemed like a pretty well thought-out plan appears full of holes. I've thought a lot more about Program Activities than Program Services. At first, that felt discouraging. But the more I thought about it, the better I felt. How can we find people who will use the creative space we want to build? Let's talk to teachers, groups of current library users, and other non-profits. If we can find potential users, we can make sure the creative spaces have the tools they need. We can help them, and our program, succeed. By finding several groups of users, we can find solutions that will have the biggest impact.
If you have program idea and you'd like to try to the OBE development approach, contact us. We're glad to share what we learned and the planning documents that Kerwin Pilgrim (our OBE trainer) shared with us. Happy planning!