The Evaluation Center announces launch of innovative e-learning courses on program evaluation

Contact: Lori A. Wingate
Kelly Robertson and Lori Wingate stand next to a sign that says "Valeo."

Drs. Kelly Robertson and Lori Wingate are excited to launch Valeo, a new e-learning series about program evaluation.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University has created a new way for professionals to learn about program evaluation. Drs. Lori Wingate and Kelly Roberston created the program to fill a gap in online learning about evaluation. In collaboration with experts in evaluation and instructional design at WMU and beyond, they created Valeo, bringing their vision for engaging and practical e-learning about program evaluation to life.

“We’ve heard so many stories about people who were tasked with evaluation responsibilities in their jobs, with little to no preparation,” says Wingate. “We wanted to create a way for people to develop the evaluation know-how they need, when they need it.”

Valeo (pronounced vuh-LAY-oh) recently launched with three courses, with plans to eventually offer a comprehensive menu of courses on program evaluation. Courses available now include Introduction to Evaluation, Developing Evaluation Plans for Grant Proposals and Theoretical Approaches to Program Evaluation.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control played a pivotal role in Valeo's inception, collaborating in course development and providing vital funding. Wingate explains, "Our CDC colleagues were specifically interested in a course on theoretical approaches to program evaluation. They have staff with strong analytical skills, but saw a need for public health program evaluators to have deeper knowledge of evaluation theory." 

Following a successful pilot facilitated by their CDC colleagues, the Valeo team used the insights to enhance the course’s content and delivery. The resulting Introduction to Theoretical Approaches to Evaluation course offers an opportunity to earn continuing education units (CEUs).

The courses are non-academic, which means they don’t issue WMU credits or require enrollment in the University. The Valeo team prioritized making the courses affordable and fully accessible to all learners. The courses range from $25 to $335 depending on course length, which ranges from about 45 minutes to 3 hours. 

“We focus on what people really need to know, without the fluff or academic language that can sometimes get in the way of learning,” explains Robertson. “My personal goal was to make sure it wasn’t boring. Too often we see information about program evaluation conveyed in a way that isn’t accessible and focuses more on the expert than the learner.”

The courses feature interactive lessons, practice exercises and feedback. Jill Eck, an undergraduate evaluation assistant at WMU’s Evaluation Lab, completed the Introduction to Evaluation course as part of her orientation at the lab. “It wasn't like any other training platform I had used in the past, which made the experience so much better! The training didn't feel like ‘work’ due to the activities throughout the course that kept me engaged.”

Valeo is the latest development in The Evaluation Center’s rich history of providing free and low-cost opportunities to learn about evaluation. Shining examples include the center’s Evaluation Checklists collection, Evaluation Café speaker series and Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation—all open-access. The Evaluation Center is one of the oldest organizations dedicated to evaluation in the United States and is among the top producers of external funding at WMU.

As a thank you to the Western community for their support in creating and launching Valeo, the team is offering discounted pricing for anyone with a WMU email account. Contact Kelly Robertson for a discount code.

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