Geek out with us @ MERL Tech London

Emily Tomkys Valteri ICT4D, Methodology, Real Geek

MERL Tech – an event exploring the use of technology for monitoring, evaluation research and learning – is coming to London for the first time in February 20-21st 2017. Hosted at the St Brides Foundation by Oxfam and Comic Relief, we are calling for practitioners to submit session ideas and to sign up to attend and become part of our MERL Tech community.

As highlighted in a previous post on Real Geek, Oxfam attended the MERL Tech event in DC in October this year. This conference provides a space for practitioners to discuss how the use of technology for monitoring, evaluation research and learning (MERL) is affecting the way we work. We shared best practice, practical tools and thought about what’s next and how we can advance our work. Oxfam was specifically involved in discussions on Responsible Data as well as leading sessions on Rethinking Informed Consent in Digital Development and how we can better close the feedback and accountability loop.

The MERL Tech Conferences began in 2014 but have so far only taken place in DC and New York. Oxfam has teamed up with Kurante and Comic Relief to bring the conference to London next year – 20-21st February 2017. MERL Tech London will bring together 75 thought leaders and practitioners from the MERL Tech community for two days of deep thinking and practical learning. We’ll unpack critical issues in today’s MERL space and spend time thinking about the future of MERL and the ways it is intertwined and potentially game-changing for the future of development.

We are currently inviting people to submit session ideas on all aspects of MERL Tech – organisational, methodological, operational, technological, ethical and sectoral. Topic areas might include:

  • Experiences (positive, negative and mixed) using ICTs, social media and big data approaches to complement  MERL efforts
  • Use of digital data and/or real-time data for program monitoring and decision-making, including adaptive management, collaborative learning approaches, tech for transparency etc.
  • Experiences, examples, challenges and concerns with responsible data policy and practice in MERL, including open data and data sharing, data privacy issues, informed consent, unintended consequences and duty of care aspects
  • Case studies that explore the selection and implementation of new tools and/or approaches – sharing of challenges, success, failures, nuances and adaptations when introducing ICTs into organizational or evaluative processes
  • The future of MERL: How are new ICTs, social media, digital data, big data, machine learning, data science approaches, emerging technologies, artificial intelligence and other emerging innovations and new ICTs changing MERL? How are these shifts changing development and decision making overall? What are the implications?

Looking for inspiration? Take a look at the agenda from the recent MERL Tech DC conference for ideas.

We’re particularly keen to encourage:

  • Discussions around good practice and evidence-based review
  • Workshops with practical, hands-on exercises
  • Discussion and sharing on how to address methodological aspects such as rigor, bias, and construct validity in MERL Tech approaches
  • Future-focused thought provoking ideas and examples
  • Conversations about ethics, inclusion and responsible policy and practice in MERL Tech

All session submissions will be reviewed by a panel of five MERL Tech practitioners: Linda Raftree, Emily Tomkys, Nissa Ramsay, Maliha Khan and Penny Hawkins.

Session ideas need to be submitted by November 30, 2016.  And if you’d like to attend but are not interested in submitting a session, please register your interest and we’ll confirm your spot soon


Jola Miziniak