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Web Survey Bibliography

Title Qualitative Research via Internet: Asynchronous Online Discussions and the Use of WebCT
Year 2009
Access date 20.08.2009

The use of the Internet in research as a gateway to information sources is well established. However, its potential as a dynamic and interactive research tool is only beginning to be exploited.

This paper outlines the process and pertinent methodological issues relevant to the creation of two asynchronous online discussion boards, as part of a larger PhD study that explored the role of occupational therapists when working with children born preterm. Online discussions are a “permutation” of the traditional focus groups, with the latter having been extensively used in qualitative research as a data collection method. A comparison of traditional focus groups and online discussions is provided in this paper. The features of an asynchronous mode a discussion is discussed as a new “hybrid” mode of communication, which can generate rich responses that are well thought before being posted. The implications that this type of data collection method could have for qualitative research are discussed.

WebCT, the software platform employed for the conduction of the asynchronous online discussions, is well known as a distance learning tool. In this study it has been adapted to provide a multi-threaded online discussion board. The functionality of WebCT, design choices, and the technical infrastructure required to support it, are discussed. Factors such as the logistic challenges associated with the designing of the site, choice of the discussion timing, participant group dynamics, role of the instructor in facilitating participants’ interaction, and finally pertinent ethical issues relevant to employing online discussions for collecting qualitative data are discussed.

Finally, advantages of using an institutionally-hosted virtual environment, such as WebCT, are presented. These advantages relate to confidentiality, security and safety issues as well as to WebCT’s options for customisation and, therefore, creation of an online environment that is user friendly for the potential participants of a qualitative study.

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Year of publication2009
Bibliographic typeConferences, workshops, tutorials, presentations
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Web survey bibliography - General Online Research Conference (GOR) 2009 (54)

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