Friday, November 26, 2010

Distance Surveying With Google Forms

Distance learning refers to students who learn from a teacher but who are not physically in a classroom, but rather some distance away but connecting with the teacher and lesson via technology, such as an internet browser or other software. Distance surveying is basically the same principle in that it refers to surveying individuals from a distance via technology, such as telephone, email or the internet.

I'm currently involved with a child protection research project in Iraq. One component of the research is to survey key informants on child protection mechanisms, regulations and policies. These key informants include people from Iraqi ministries and agencies, lawyers, United Nations officials, local and international NGOs, and child protection professionals inside Iraq, both in the Arabic and Kurkish speaking governorates. The distance to travel as well as security issues makes conducting face-2-face interviews costly and risky.

A wonderful tool for distance surveying is Google Forms. It is a flexible form for survey development than includes a built-in data collection system and it does not require any coding and is free of charge! The only "catch" is that you must have an internet connection and a Google Gmail account. Once have get, or if you have a Gmail account, go to Documents and select Forms. To develop a survey tool is quite intuitive but for those who would like some help go here: Google Forms Tutorial

Also, you may have noticed that to use this type of distance survey the respondents will need to have access to an internet connection and an internet browser. Most of the key informants I mentioned above have access to an internet connection and an internet browser.

The survey process involves finding a "survey champion" in each of the groups, for example one person in the UN who will promote the survey among colleagues. The survey champion would call or send an email telling their colleague about the survey and the importance of their participation. A follow-up email would be sent with the link to the Google Form survey. Each key informant would complete the questionnaire. For those key informants who did not complete the online survey in the requested time would receive a follow-up from the "survey champion" in their group.

Once completed all responses are automatically compiled into a Google Spreadsheet which can then be analyzed online, using Google analysis, or downloaded into other data analysis software such as SPSS.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Software for Network Visualization and Analysis

On 27 March 2010 I had blog called, Network Analysis and Visualization of Qualitative Data. In response to this blog I received several requests to provide software programs that can be used in network visualization and analysis.

Increasingly each year there are more software developed for network visualization, but all network visualization tools require some degree of knowledge about how to structure network data and databases PRIOR to visualization. The only network visualization tool I know of (at this time) that requires a minimum knowledge of network data structure (or theory), is free-of-charge, and has some degree of document support is NodeXL.

NodeXL is a MSExcel add-on template for visually analyzing networks but also provides basic network statistics (in-degree, density, etc.). Most network visualization software require network data to be entered in one format (e.g., txt, DL, or other) and then imported into a software (NetDraw, Pajek) for visualization. NodeXL allows you to enter data directly, via in a familiar spreadsheet format, then to visualize it, and modify various characteristics of the network easily.

NodeXL is up-dated frequently and can provide great visual illustrations of ties, links, clusters, communities, and networks for a better understanding of your data.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Measuring Empowerment

A new handbook was brought to my attention recently, which I have not had a chance to review yet. It is called, Measuring Empowerment? Ask Them: Quantifying qualitative outcomes from people's own analysis (2010), published by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The authors are Dee Jupp and Shoel Ibn Ali. The Preface is written by Robert Chambers.

I have taken parts from the Premble to provide a quick summary of this handbook:

"Quantitative analyses of qualitative assessments of outcomes and impacts can be undertaken with relative ease and at low cost. It is possible to measure what many regard as unmeasurable. This publication suggests that steps in the process of attainment of rights and the process of empowerment are easy to identify and measure for those active in the struggle to achieve them.....This paper presents the experience of one social movement in Bangladesh, which managed to find a way to measure empowerment by letting the members themselves explain what benefits they acquired from the Movement and by developing a means to measure change over time. These measures, which are primarily of use to the members, have then been subjected to numerical analysis outside of the village environment to provide convincing quantitative data, which satisfies the demands of results-based management."

Participatory Impact Assessment

The Feinstein International Center, a Tufts University, has a rather comprehensive guide on participatory assessment titled, Participatory Impact Assessment: A Guide for Practitioners (2007).The authors are Andrew Carley, John Burns, Dawit Abebe and Omeno Suji. This guide focuses on measuring the impact of livelihood projects.

An eight stage approach is outlined that includes:
  1. Provide a framework for assessing the impact of livelihoods interventions.
  2. Clarify the differences between measuring process and real impact .
  3. Demonstrate how Participatory Impact Assessment (PIA) can be used to measure the impact of different projects in different contexts using community identified impact indicators .
  4. Demonstrate how participatory methods can be used to measure impact where no  baseline data exists .
  5. Demonstrate how participatory methods can be used to attribute impact to a project .
  6. Demonstrate how qualitative data from participatory tools can be systematically  collected and numerically presented to give representative results of project impact .
The three fundamental questions the PIA attempts to answer are: a) what changes have there been in the community since the start of the project?, b) which of these changes are attributable to the project?, and c) what differences have these changes made to people's lives?

Not all donors are open to participatory methods, especially if it entails the development of indicators by community members during or even after a project. Most donors prefer a list of result and impact indicators prior to project implementation. But, for those projects with greater donor flexibility to use participatory assessment techniques this guide presents some basic steps and methods.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Visualization Methods

Two guys (Ralph Lengler & Martin J. Eppler) form the Institute of Corporate Communication have developed a "Periodic table" of visualization methods that shows examples of about 100 visualization methods in six categories, which are:
  1. Data Visualization - representation of quantitative data in schematic form (either with or without axes).
  2. Information Visualization - the use of interactive visual representations of data to amplify knowledge...that is, data is transformed into an image. 
  3. Concept Visualization -  methods to elaborate (mostly) quantitative concepts, ideas, plans, and analyses.
  4. Strategy Visualization -  the systematic use of complementary visual representations in the analysis, development, formulation, communication, and implementation of strategies in organizations.
  5. Metaphor Visualization - displays information graphically to organize and structure information.
  6. Compound Visualization - complementary use of different graphic representation formats in one single schema or frame.
SM (Stakeholder Map)

FF (Force Field)

The online version is here:  A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

This is a great source for thinking of how to illustrate your ideas and data.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Participatory Photo Mapping

Participatory Photo Mapping (PPM) is a tool for exploring the "experience of place" and for communicating this experience to community stakeholders and decision-makers. Using Participatory Photo Mapping helps uncover supports and barriers to well-being, especially related to the built environment. The PPM approach photography, narrative stories, and mapping.

The PPM process has four steps:
Step 1: Provide participants with digital cameras and GPS units and have them take pictures of their neighborhood, documenting routine use of community and recreation environments.

Step 2: These photos become the objects of focus group sessions in which open dialogue creates emerging themes that are attached to particular images. Conduct focus group and narrative sessions where the photographs are projected onto a wall and community people talk about the images and are engaged in exploring perceptions of their neighborhood environment.

Step 3: The images are then geocoded as part of a neighborhood-level geographic information system that includes other demographic and spatial data, such as population, household characteristics and crime statistics, to create a qualitative GIS focused on the experience of community and recreation environments.

Step 4: Use learned knowledge to communicate the information to local decision-makers, such as health professionals, business owners, community organizations, and policy makers.
Below are some links to videos by Dr. , originally designed, to develop and design collaborative projects and networks to improve health and well-being of communities by strengthening health information systems and sharing that information with community stakeholders and public health decision-makers.

PPM allows you to:
  • assess the community and environmental contributions to health, safety and well-being, 
  • address peoples’ perceptions of their neighborhood environments, 
  • identify environmental factors that impact health and well-being, 
  • identify community supports and barriers to health and well-being, present this information to stakeholders and decision-makers. 

Watch the videos (links below) to learn more about this tool.

With the cost of digital cameras declining each day, and the ability to instantly print these photos, this technique of community participation (from youth to adults) in identifying community problems and or issues and allowing for multiple interpretations of what the photo is about and why it is important to start the discussion on how it can be resolved.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Livelihood Strategy Videos from Gaza, Palestine

The third video focuses on normal Gazan life (Abd, 28 Years old) from Beit Lahya in the Northern Gaza Strip. He is a young farmer confronting challenges with earning an income from his farm to take care of his children and helping friends overcome many personal and economic challenges.

Livelihood Strategy Videos from Gaza, Palestine

The second livelihoods video from Gaza, Palestine, is about Mohammed, who is 30 years of age and works in Save the Children's Livelihood Department. This video presents a young man trying to use his education and commitment to help youth organizations and communities in Gaza.

Livelihood Strategy Videos from Gaza, Palestine

Save the Children's office in Gaza, Palestine, has produced three short videos on livelihood strategies. The first video is about Torfa, a 56 year old woman from Khan Younis, Southern Gaza Strip, who is trying to support her family. I will be featuring the other two videos shortly.