Platforms for online focus groups & meetings

Posted: March 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: research tools | Comments Off on Platforms for online focus groups & meetings

What platforms do you like for conducting online focus groups and/or meetings?  I have been looking into GoToMeeting and Mikogo, as well as Skype’s conference functionalities.

The GoToMeeting website states that it can be used for up to 15 people, and that it works on Mac or PC.  Participants can call in via phone or a computer enabled with speakers and a microphone.  The meeting leader/organizer can show visual materials by opening them up on her desktop and clicking through them (it’s essentially a screen share function).  GoToMeeting does have a free 30-day trial, but after that you need to buy a monthly or annual subscription.  (USD $49 and $468, respectively.)

Like GoToMeeting, Mikogo is a platform for real-time voice-to-voice meetings.  It offers desktop sharing and the presenter role can be easily switched.  The free (yes, free!) version of Mikogo supports meetings of up to 10 people.  If you want to use it for larger meetings, then you’ll need to buy the company’s BeamYourScreen tool, which has additional features, like live customer support.

I like Skype and have blogged about using it for one-to-one interviews.  Some advantages of Skype are that Skype-to-Skype calls are free and the program is easy to use.  However, I do see a couple of potential drawbacks to Skype’s conference call functionality.  First, each person has to have Skype loaded on their machine, and it could be a hassle to get members of large groups to download and operate it.  Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it doesn’t seem to support the real-time use of visual aids, such as PowerPoint.

If you have used any of these please feel free to share your thoughts on their usefulness, strengths and weaknesses, etc.

Capturing activity on a Mac screen: iShowYou

Posted: March 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: research tools | Comments Off on Capturing activity on a Mac screen: iShowYou

I’ve just discovered iShowYou, a satisfyingly easy-to-use tool for capturing activity (including sound) on a Mac screen.  Captures are generated in movie (QuickTime) format.  I can see this tool being extremely useful for projects in which you need to record chat or user activity.

iShowYou would also be valuable for recording visual instructions for colleagues.  Imagine, for example, you wanted to train someone in how to use an online research tool, but couldn’t meet face-to-face.  You could record your own use of the tool, complete with verbal instructions, and send the recording to them.

iShowYou is very inexpensive – only USD $20 for the basic version, and is very user friendly.  I haven’t used it very much yet but so far I like it very much.

Other tools for capturing on-screen activity are FRAPS and Camtasia.  I haven’t used either of these.  If you have, please feel free to share your opinion on them.

DiscoverText for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Posted: March 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: research tools | 1 Comment »

DiscoverText is a relatively new tool used for scraping and analyzing textual data from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, RSS feeds, etc.  It was created by Dr. Stuart Shulman, the same person behind Coding Analysis Toolkit (CAT).  (See my previous post on CAT here.)

Like many web-based analytical tools, DiscoverText works on a subscription model.  The Professional edition of DiscoverText runs at USD$25/month, but you can sign up for a free trial version of it for one month.  There is also a free Community edition with limited features.  Some organizations have an Enterprise license allowing all of its members to use it.  (The University of Washington has an Enterprise license for about one year, so any of you researchers at UW should check it out ASAP.)  You can learn more about the pricing here.

I have not used DiscoverText yet but am attending a webinar about it this week, so I should have some first-hand information on it soon.

New documentation for TAMS Analyzer

Posted: March 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: research tools, TAMS | 6 Comments »

I recently completed a short “how-to” guide for getting started with TAMS Analyzer.  This documentation will shortly be linked to the CSSCR Documentation and Handouts page here.  You can also email me directly for a copy.  Feel free to send me any feedback or suggestions on making the documentation easier to work with.

UPDATE 04/13/2011:  I’m currently working on a revision of this documentation that will reflect the most recent updates in TAMS. It should be ready within a few weeks.  In the meantime, if you want the old documentation (which will help you get started with TAMS) just let me know and I’ll send it to you right away.