Challenges for Digital Qualitative Research

Thoughts on Digital Qualitative Research – Part 3

Although the digital space offers many opportunities in terms of data collection, analysis and new data itself, part 3 of the series ” Thoughts on Digital Qualitative Research”  addresses the challenges going hand in hand with digital research. Although each method and each research project may face other or additional questions and difficulties, the challenges presented here are valid for all scholars who aim to conduct digital qualitative inquiry.

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The Nature and Quality of Data

The nature and quality of data are crucial for coherent and transparent interpretation. In early research, digital data often required grounding in the offline world to be seen as valid (Rogers, 2013). Although today not all data require grounding outside the digital sphere (Rogers, 2013) as they often describe natively digital phenomena, the methodological context is essential to understand the nature and meaning of the data analysed (Dicks, 2012).  Quinton and Reynolds (2018) argue that researches have to define their stance but can freely classify their approaches in terms of methodology.

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Digital Qualitative Research in a Big Data World

Thoughts on Digital Qualitative Research – Part 2

Part 2 of the series examines the emerging tensions and questions for qualitative research in a Big Data world.

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Boyd and Crawford (2012) define the shift to Big Data as a socio-technical phenomenon. The term Big Data describes the huge amount of data aggregated through interaction online and the ability to cross-reference these large data sets for new insights. Discussing the troubling concept of data, Markham (2018) and Rogers (2013) argue that datafication as ideological focus and the methodological turn towards digital research techniques quantifying social processes pose a temptation as well as a challenge for qualitative research at the same time.

The technological ability to collect data does replace the question if qualitative oriented scholars should collect such large amounts of data (Tiidenberg, 2018), from an ethical as well as from a practical point of view (Markham, 2012). Further, these large data sets do not fully represent social phenomena (Markham, 2018), but Big Data changes the way knowledge is created and research is done by changing the instruments, the focus and the process of research (boyd & Crawford, 2012). Markham (2018, p. 520) sees the turn to the quantification in data analysis, the subsumption of qualitative inquiry as an add-on for data-driven science and the pursuit of generalizability as an “ongoing risk, which the interpretative movement has long sought to combat.”  

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What is digital research?

Thoughts on Digital Qualitative Research – Part 1

In this short series about qualitative digital methods, I want to introduce basic assumptions, challenges and definitions for qualitative research in the digital space. The first part sheds light on the definition of digital research.

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As Hine (2005) and Quinton and Reynolds (2018) state, there is no clear paradigm or restriction for digital research by now. Researchers try to adapt their methodological principles to the digital environment and migrate their ontological and epistemological views into the digital research field.

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Learning from Your Students: Tools for Digital Interactivity in Class

When presenting in class, students in my courses are required to include at least one “interactive part” involving their fellow class mates. The main goal of this rule is to foster experience-based learning and to make student presentations more varied. How the students involve their colleagues is entirely up to them; collateral benefit of this openness is that I profit immensely from the creativity and diversity of ideas and techniques put forward by the students.

Over the course of the past semester, for instance, I not only saw but experienced various tools for digital interactivity – some of which were really helpful in raising attention levels and understanding. Please find below a selection of three such digital tools, all of which are browser-based and work on laptops, tablets and smartphones alike:

screenshot-kahoot

Kahoot: the mobile-friendly tool provides an easy way to set up competitive quizzes, where participants get points for correct and fast answers. In the end, there is a ranking and a winner. According to Kahoot’s website, the tool works with up to 500 participants. In a German blog post, Daniel Giere describes his experiences with Kahoot in the field of history.  Continue reading “Learning from Your Students: Tools for Digital Interactivity in Class”