In this three-part series, we hope to bring to light a few advantages of qualitative research in education within a user case project that highlights the tools that Moodle offers to apply the techniques to benefit your particular classroom.
Project Three: The Agile Market Researcher
Our last project focuses on storytelling as a persuasion tool. As it refers to the process in which form and function are subject to change according to qualitative discoveries, it might be a bit too theoretical, but if you give it some thought you might find out how straightforward it is to turn it into practice in Moodle.
Using qualitative approaches in the development of new ways to do things is not just a good idea; practically every major design and innovation company performs qualitative research when developing a new product. Some of today’s buzzwords associated with innovation, like “Design Thinking,” are qualitative research techniques at their core.
I know the idea of thinking of students as a “market” might not sit well with some of you, but let’s think of your learning intervention as a product that increases your students’ skills. The important thing is to focus on increasing the value of the design for the whole class, which is a “macro” objective, rather than “micro” goals like satisfaction or revenue.
Again, there are many approaches in which qualitative methods can give educators hints about shaping learning interventions according to students’ needs and wants.
#1: The most common one would be the “Interview” route: Ask a lot of questions constantly. Do it in groups, sub-groups, or one-to-one. Ask for written or recorded responses. The important thing is to engage in an ongoing conversation that becomes your source on what works and what doesn’t.
#2: Another one could be called the “Genetic Algorithm” route. Based on the practice common in data science, this consists of trying out different approaches in similar groups and keeping those that yield the best outcomes. This makes it quicker to refine approaches and identify flaws.
#3: Finally, just because you apply qualitative techniques does not mean you cannot also add quantitative tools into the mix as well. Feel free to take advantage of qualitative tools to guide the creation of new quantitative insight or use statistical results to frame individual outcomes within a larger framework.
Sound good? There is only one element missing: “Agility.”
In order to make it an “Agile” approach, the focus must be on refining the processes involved in the qualitative market research workflow as it is underway. The key to success in “Agile” approaches in research might sound paradoxical, but it has nothing to do with speed. Instead, it is about creating actionable evidence that can be improved constantly.
One way to make this happen, coincidentally, is by applying qualitative research tools to the process, something that could be called Qualitative Meta-Research. By capturing the way the research is going, it is much easier to identify ways to increase its quality.
This Moodle Practice related post is made possible by: eThink Education, a Certified Moodle Partner that provides a fully-managed Moodle experience including implementation, integration, cloud-hosting, and management services. To learn more about eThink, click here.