Last year DVV International commissioned an independent agency to critically evaluate the Institute’s publications, and especially journal, “Adult Education and Development”. The most important results of the evaluation are summarized here by Monika Bayr, the person in charge of monitoring and evaluation at the Institute, and Gisela Waschek, who has been the journal’s editorial assistant for many years.
For the past 38 years, the journal Adult Education and Development has served as a platform for the exchange of experience between adult educators, particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development supports its publication in order to improve the quality of Adult Education and thus make a contribution to global poverty reduction.
During the many years since the beginning of the publication of the journal, the editors have received much positive as well as critical feedback and many suggestions from readers and taken all this into account where it was possible. Lately, however, the need has grown to let an external expert work out a systematic positioning in order to get future recommendations based on it.
Thus, in February 2010, an appraiser was contracted who, in the context of an evaluation, should find answers in particular to the following key issues:
For this, the journal itself and the background documents were analyzed, experts were interviewed and comparisons with similar publications were made. The main method for obtaining this information was, however, questioning the recipients about what should be retained and what should be changed and for what purpose the journal is used.
For this purpose, a questionnaire was sent by e-mail and by regular mail; from the 3,500 questionnaires sent, a total of 255 were completed and returned. At this point, the editorial staff would like to thank the readers for their support.
The evaluation results are so encouraging that the expert came to the conclusion to unconditionally recommend the continuation of the journal because the evidence showed that it contributes to the improvement of the practice of Adult Education worldwide and that its thematic orientation is unique.
In general, the readers of the journal appreciate the fact they are kept technically up to date and informed about interesting projects and trends. However, a large part of the readership said they were in favor of a greater proportion of practiceoriented contributions.
There was also a lot of encouragement to provide space for feedback and discussion, e.g. in the form of a section for letters to the editor to allow communication within the readership. And to ensure the frequently expressed desire for more participation is satisfied, there should be the introduction of additional sections and a service section for readers’ opinions, new publications, contacts, as well as important web links.
In addition, the possibilities offered by digital communications should be used increasingly: As before, all the publications by the Institute will be published on the Internet. Because the half-year cycle of the publication makes a timely feedback in the journal itself more difficult, the possibility of setting up a forum on the website will be considered in the course of the year. This would also allow readers to promptly share comments with each other on the subject-matter in the journal.
The usefulness of the journal for activities in the practice of Adult Education was not put in question. The contributions help many readers to develop educational materials, to design or to improve workshops and other events. It was also clear that the journal positively reinforces the project work of DVV International.
A major concern of the subscribers is that the journal will continue to be published as a print medium in all three previous language versions. The download service on the DVV International site is regarded as a complementary offering since in many regions access to information technologies is not adequately provided.
It often happened that copies of the journal were sent back to us as undeliverable. This makes it necessary to update the distribution list of the journal to ensure that the issues actually reach the addressee. Therefore in this issue we are including a questionnaire with a request to all readers who are interested in receiving the journal in paper form, to return this completed form by e-mail or by post. This is not just important for those who do not have access to the Internet, but also for institutions such as NGOs and libraries where a copy can be made available to several readers. In the future, the international project and regional offices of DVV International should be more involved in the dissemination of the journal and, for example, use it more intensively at events.
The evaluation recommended the editorial work be provided on a broader basis and to also use external expertise. We gladly complied with this recommendation: The editorial team is now supported by an editorial advisory board in which, along with the Director and the former Editor, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and the International Council for Adult Education ICAE are represented.
To stimulate and facilitate a wider participation of authors in future editions of the journal, the evaluation recommended to determine the issues long beforehand and then solicit appropriate contributions. We are following these recommendations and selecting the main topics – a mix of reports on Adult Education practice, theory and research, and educational policy debate – one year in advance and making it known in the journal itself and on the Institute website.
The editorial board feels that the outcome of the evaluation, that of the E+E journal and the publication work of DVV International, has in general resulted in a positive report which reinforces the basic concept of their work. The board are grateful for the recommendations that will help us to ensure the quality of our journal and to improve it.
What is crucial is that the journal answers the needs and wishes of you, our readers. Therefore, we invite you to participate with criticism and suggestions on its future development, not only when we ask your opinion in the context of an evaluation, but whenever you want to participate in and enrich the global debate with your thoughts and experiences about our common work area, Adult Education.
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The journal Adult Education and Development is distributed free of charge in English, French and Spanish. If you wish to receive the journal, please subscribe here.