DIY Learn Module of the Month: Theory of Change

In April we launched DIY Learn - our new online learning programme in innovation. Created in partnership with the Open University and with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, DIY Learn is a collection of interactive, bite-sized modules developed from the most popular tools and methods in Nesta’s DIY Toolkit.

DIY Toolkit was created to help development practitioners invent, adopt or adapt ideas that can deliver better results, and DIY Learn takes this support one step further. With a lot of online content on innovation already out there, it can be difficult to know what is really useful. DIY Learn cuts through this, presenting a collection of the most widely used tools in the DIY Toolkit.

Over the coming months, we’re featuring each module from DIY Learn here on the Nesta blog, and our second Module of the Month is the Theory of Change tool.

Theory of Change

Making a Theory of Change is like creating a roadmap that describes the steps by which you plan to achieve your goal. It helps you to see whether your work is contributing towards achieving the impact you want to create, and if there is another way that you need to consider as well.

The tool enables you to have structured conversations around your strategy by laying out the crucial activities and challenges involved with your initiative and how they relate to each other. It can come in many different formats, but commonly involves a diagram containing boxes and arrows laid out to show how elements fit together, and why this arrangement should work.

The DIY Learn module walks you through the process of creating a Theory of Change and offers guidance so that you can make the most of using it. By taking the module, you will be able to:

  • Describe the purpose and benefits of using the Theory of Change tool
  • Identify the steps involved in reaching a goal using the Theory of Change tool
  • Lead a participatory process of identifying the Theory of Change for a programme or idea
  • Recognise how identifying assumptions helps to manage risks

Watch the Theory of Change module introductory video below, or go straight to the module.

We estimate this module will take between two and three hours to complete for an independent learner with a good level of English. It is divided into smaller study sessions, each of which follows a standard pattern to make it easier for you to plan your time. As you work through the module there are some in-text activities to help test your understanding of the material, and it finishes with a series of self-assessment questions.

Feedback and training support

We hope that you enjoy the module, and we’re always delighted to hear from our learners. Please send feedback on the module to [email protected]. We are particularly keen to hear what you have done with the skills and tools you have learned.

While the module has been designed to be studied independently, this is not the only way it can be used. The DIY Learn Trainers Handbook also provides guidance on using all the modules as a basis for group training in a classroom setting.

Take the module>>

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Isobel Roberts

Isobel Roberts

Isobel Roberts

Content and Communications Manager, Innovation Skills

Isobel worked in the Innovation Skills team as Content and Communications Manager, helping to build Nesta's learning and development offering.

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