This week I am participating in a demonstration of mobile phone texting as a method of gathering insights.
Not a new methodology, incidentally -- people have been using mobile methods for a few years now, but it's really starting to come into its own with the proliferation of smart phones.
In fact, I recall a large-ish student project of a few years ago, (bulletin board methodology), where i gave up using e-mail to communicate with students because they responded so much better to texts!
Back to the demo. Mobile methods for qualitative now come in many flavors, from simple Q+A gathered up into a spreadsheet at the end, to fully integrated texting in a discussion forum platform.
Here's what I'm noticing, two days into the study:
- Far from being an irritant, I am finding the quick text messages a welcome interruption to my work a couple of times a day.
- I'm curious to see what the researcher is asking next. (Yes, it seems that a good and engaging question is as crucial here as it is anywhere, perhaps even more so!)
- I got a "great idea" response from the researcher that made me smile (the usual pats on the back we give to reinforce participation worked just fine on me too!)
I'll be interested to see the aggregated results of this demo study in a webinar later this week (put on by the Online SIG of QRCA.)
I love the idea of using this approach for a warm-up or follow-up to a more in-depth method. It's in the moment, very unscripted from the standpoint of the respondent, and reaches me where i am right now. The possibilities suggested are really wonderful!
If you have experience with this method -- either as a participant, or as a researcher / client, I'd love to hear your thoughts here in the comments.