Do learning networks really make any difference? Do people ever apply what they have learnt? And how does this help the poorest people we are trying to assist? Learning networks should not fear or dodge such challenging questions. Taking them seriously throughout the life of a learning group can help ensure it remains relevant and effective. There are relatively simple, ‘good enough’ ways to monitor and evaluate. What is needed is the courage and commitment to make it happen.
This short paper provides some pragmatic ideas about what we need to assess and how this monitoring and evaluation can be done in relatively simple and cost-effective ways. Generating useful information about the impact of a learning network is not as impossible as it might first appear. With considered planning and sensible methods, it is possible to generate reasonably good data, certainly good enough to indicate a positive contribution to development.