Meet your Creative Data Visualisation facilitator, Fia van Rensburg who is based at our new Pretoria office.
Fia has more than 18 years’ experience in the development sector, specializing in monitoring and evaluation. She has worked in provincial and national government as well as international organizations. In addition to core skills in M&E and training facilitation, she is passionate about capacity building and is interested in integrating issues of gender and appreciative inquiry into her work.
There is a wide misconception that monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is a field for geeks and nerds, and relevant only to those who understand it. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Any industry that conducts interviews, gathers data or research requires M&E skills. We interviewed Fia to find out more about her, the training and what participants can expect.
CC&DW: The value in M&E, when correctly applied, has the power to improve systems and programmes but not many see the creative side of it. Why did you get into the M&E field? What excites you about research?
Fia: Well, I’m just a child at heart! And I think it’s very important to be able to communicate effectively with people that are not involved in research and evaluation. Creative Data Visualization is a way of developing a language that can reach a much broader audience.
The fact is, things change in the world all the time and we are communicating differently in business nowadays.We Whatsapp and skype, so why would we want to continue to do our visualization of data the same way we did ten years ago and not keeping up with development in the world?
I am interested in making things fun and accessible. Research is alive! It’s not a dry and boring subject, and I think one needs to bring that out. People often complain about the lack of data in Africa and we need to push that agenda more, how else will we plan and ensure that we develop is based on evidence. Even casual communications like emojis etc, have already started enabling us to use visuals to communicate differently.
CC&DW: How will the workshop be conducted? And what can participants look forward to?
Fia: We’ll be looking at some traditional ways of reporting and presenting data and taking that and facilitating a new way of thinking about presenting data. Using what participants are familiar with and how that can be used optimally to present data and entice people to apply the information differently. We’re building technical skills. Think about how sometimes you have an idea and you know how it looks but you don’t have the skills to develop it.
CC&DW: The general assumption is that M&E is for development practitioners, government officials, and non-profits, but who else are these skills and knowledge necessary for? What would other industries benefit from these workshops?
Fia: Everybody that has to do a presentation or write a report or communicate data. The moment you do a presentation you work with visuals and need visual mediums and not everybody has access to things like Prezi. With just what we have on MS Office you can improve your data visualization. Any report has data in it. Corporate, social sector, NGOs, building, and training, investment, trainers, and facilitators can benefit from this.
CC&DW: What impact can the right or wrong visualization or presentation have on your data?
Fia: The advantage of correct and exciting data visualization is that you generate an interest in your data and what your evaluation report is used for. Let’s face it, the quality of your evaluation depends on the actual use of the findings, which is a contentious statement but there is some truth in it. However good your report, if it doesn’t get used what’s the value? Data visualization skills will help you take that knowledge that sits on the shelf and put it to use.
One of the consequences of incorrect, poor or irrelevant data visualization is cultural insensitivity e.g. using thumbs up for something that went well but in some cultures that might be rude. You have to be aware of correct visualization tools. It’s a new language that people have to learn.
I think it’s very important to be able to communicate effectively with people across all disciplines, including those who may not have a deep understanding of research and evaluation.
No matter which industry or sector you’re involved in, if you need to present data, it is important to know which tools are available to you (both traditional and modern ones) and how to use them. As Fia mentioned, there is no value in having groundbreaking findings if you can’t communicate your information in a clear, concise and exciting manner.
Improve your visualization skills at our next Creative Data Visualisation workshop. At the end of the workshop, you will be able to:
Register here before the 20 April 2017 to get your early bird special.
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