Blog Post about Blog Posts [Post #4]
So if you’ve been following my journey with Bassett, you know that we hit some challenges with digital journaling as a research method. But those challenges were learning opportunities, and we found ways to modify the research so it is compliant.
The solution: to keep using the blog format, but instead of asking the participants to take pictures, they were ask to upload “media pieces” to support their text. These media pieces could be stock images, songs, quotes, websites, etc.—as long as they didn’t take pictures while in the medical centers. The photo above is a blog post from one of our participants, and she found a piece of art work and a quote to represent her emotions.
Here are some ADVANTAGES I found to using this method:
- Capture in-the-moment thoughts and emotions. Some of this can be lost if a participant is asked to recall it from memory.
- Blogs can be really personal. Some people write blogs everyday, like they would a diary entry. We can tap into this mentality for some rich material.
- Artifacts. Now we have a dozen blogs with quotes and media…imagine the possibility!
As you already know, this wasn’t easy to pull off. Here are some more CHALLENGES:
- Not everything can be digital. As we soon found out, there are things like consent forms that are not in digital format. Participants had to scan, fax, or snail mail the consent forms back to us. Also, their compensation (Visa Gift Cards) had to be mailed out separately.
- Timeframe for study. This study was particularly complicated because we had to recruit participants who had doctor visits scheduled during the time of our study. Some participants even rescheduled their visits so they can be part of the study.
- No face-to-face time. It might take a little bit more work to get participants to follow through because they are on their own to complete the assignment. We are not there to guide and lead them.
And as always, I LEARNED a lot from this experience:
- Are you tech-savvy? Since this method relies heavily on technology, it is difficult to include participants who are not comfortable using technology, and they must be screen out early in the process.
- Add a human and personal touch. Call your participants, write your emails in a friendly tone, sign your name, let them know there is a real person they can reach out to, even if they never get to meet you.
And I just want to give a shout out to Tom, Andrew, Kate, and the rest of the Bassett team who helped us work through those bumps in the road. We learned so much from you guys and from this experience.
Trailblazing [Post #3]
Blogs, cameras, smart phones…all these things are seamlessly integrated into our daily lives, and some of us can’t even imagine a life without these technologies. Which is why it was such a shock when we found out we couldn’t use these tools in our digital journaling study. The proposed research method required members to use their smart phones to take photos and write blog postings about their experience in our medical buildings. But if you stop and think, it completely makes sense as to why this raises red flags. There are many HIPPA laws specifying what can and cannot be photographed in a medical center.
This is what I LEARNED from some really smart legal and compliance folks:
- Our members are not allowed to take pictures within the medical centers, because they can easily capture PHI and violate HIPPA rules. We do not, and cannot, afford that!
- Personal phones are not ‘secure devices’, so even if a member had permission to take photos, the photos are not protected.
- Ownership of photos become fuzzy. All photos and videos taken in the medical centers must belong to Kaiser Permanente, so that they are not used inappropriately, or end up on the scary internet. In fact, new legal forms would need to be created to ensure it is Kaiser property.
Digital journaling as a research method has been around for a long time, and companies like Nike and Pepsi have already been using this long ago. But since we are the first ones to attempt digital journaling within Kaiser Permanente, we are in fact TRAILBLAZING!
MindSwarms 101 [Post #2]
Along came web cams…
I spent an entire morning learning all that I can about MindSwarms. Thanks Ryan, for sharing your knowledge! In short, MindSwarms is a research method that captures the full potential of web cams. Each MindSwarms study consist of seven questions, and each answer is a one minute web cam recording from the participant. Here are some examples of a video responses. (This is not from Project RAD, due to PHI).
In my experience, I’ve found many ADVANTAGES to using this methodology:
- Accessible to participants. Since this is not a live interview, participants can record answers on their own time and at the location of their choice
- To-the-point answers, because the participant only has one minute to record their response
- Easily shareable data. MindSwarms website has built in tools for easy sharing of video responses, which is great for teamwork.
- Artifacts. Since all the responses are in digital format, they can easily be turned into rich insight videos. Well, not TOO easily…you do need some video editing talent ;)
Though there are many pros, here are some CHALLENGES I came across in this experience:
- "Is this the right question for a one minute response?" This was the question I kept asking myself. Sometimes when a question is too broad or abstract, it seems harder to get rich responses.
- Choosing the right participant. I found that the one minute responses are golden when the participant has really rich personal experiences. For example, in our study, the participants with chronic medical conditions were able share a lot of insightful personal stories.
I like to think that I am a bit wiser now…here are some of my LEARNINGS:
- MindSwarms shines when the participant has really concrete and personal experiences to share.
- Layer MindSwarms with another method. Want to know if a participant will be a good candidate for an in-home ethnography? Screen them with a MindSwarms study first! You can also use this in conjunction with expert interviews, etc.
- Don’t wait to watch the responses! It is beneficial to monitor the responses as they come in, so you can edit/tweak the questions if they are not yielding the responses you want.
And there is so much more to learn…
Hi, my name is Katherine. Welcome to the first blog post of the series! This set of posts is around our work with Bassett.
Bassett is a design thinking company and ethnography firm that specializes in the use of digital media in their research. The Bassett team has been working hard conducting 2 sets of studies for the RAD project (ambulatory care):
(1) Digital Journaling— which uses Tumblr Blog as a tool for gathering stories and journey maps around member experiences.
(2) MindSwarms— short webcam interview recordings that dives deep into participants’ lives.
This is the first entry of many. I’ll be sharing the learnings from these digital research tools; focusing on surprises, challenges, and delights along the way.