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Why face-to-face Monitoring & Evaluation training?

Why Face-to-Face Monitoring & Evaluation Training?

IMA's face-to-face training in Brighton is confirmed! So why come on our in-person MEAL training?

Hear from IMA's Petra Veres on her personal experience of face-to-face training...

As everyone moves back to face-to-face or hybrid working, so has IMA by bringing back our face-to-face trainings. One of our most popular, Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) is organised this year in multiple locations, the first in Brighton, in the South of England.

So, what are the benefits of our 2-week long training and why are these important?

Whilst online learning provides the flexibility to work around busy schedules, allowing people to learn at their own pace, it also reduces travel costs as well as the environmental cost, with no international flights. So how to make a decision to fly for a face-to-face training?
From a personal experience online trainings help me by being flexible, time efficient and delivering quality content. They have been a useful and effective way to engage with the international community. However, by not being in the same room our physical presence and our body is misplaced from the experience of learning and engaging with others. Dreyfus argued that our body plays a crucial role in how we experience and make sense of the world- and in this case of our own sector that we work in. Our body is central to how we understand others' feelings and views and communicate our own. Moving on from this point it is clear, that through an online space regardless the availability of technological solutions, interactions are not the same. Our body processes information and context that we wouldn`t be able to pick up from a simple Zoom call.
During our face-to-face MEAL training we mix theory with practice through applying methods and tools to a real-life case study at a local organisation. This facilitates soft learning and observation processes that can embed knowledge and experience through being physically present, giving us elements to reflect on and understand ourselves better. It includes exploration and reflection on how we work alone in a new environment, application of learning, and collaborating with others.
In our training we create a safe space for knowledge sharing between participants from different sectoral and technical expertise, and from international and local organisations. Face-to-face training is a great opportunity to exchange knowledge and ideas on intersectional challenges. You can explore and show tools or methods you use in your own programmes to improve effectiveness and bring about change, reflect on how different indicators might work in different contexts but not in others, learn about different teams' M&E principles and processes, other organisations' and colleagues' challenges, and you can even make a plan to tackle problems together.

Of course all of these processes happen in the online space, however exchanging ideas while grabbing dinner, during a walk or while organising ideas with post-it notes on a board embed experiences and understandings because they explain not simply by words but through body language.
Another benefit of face-to-face training is to engage in person with colleagues from different organisations who often work together in a programme or project. Historically we host participants from international NGOs, UN Agencies, bilateral donor organisations, ministries, academia, and the private sector, providing a great opportunity for our participants to share and negotiate ideas with different organisational backgrounds. This gives a chance to understand where motivations for come from and what limitations might exist. It can also provide a space to plan programmes together in the future with fellow participants.

All in all, the 2-week face-to-face training brings a strong component in applying M&E tools in a local case study, and seeks to embed knowledge and personal connection through experience on how we understand our own sector, and our own and others' work though its people and organisations.

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