Overview

There are many ways to capture individual perspectives, feelings, and changes in an ongoing and engaging way.  Depending on the intended use, text, audio, images, and video can be recorded in quite a natural way using a variety of new technologies.  Although some methods lend themselves more or less to straightforward analysis, these methods can be used highly creatively.

Selected methods and techniques

a)    Participant Diaries. Participants keep traditional diaries/logs to note pertinent issues and themes. This allows individuals and organisations to reflect on and improve beneficiary experiences and adapt activities accordingly.

b)    Blogs and Webchats. Blogs are simply are web-based diaries that can be shared and viewed online. Similar to the above traditional diaries/logs, they can be created by both staff and beneficiaries of a service to keep a personal record of tasks, events, progress, learning and experiences.

c)    Photo-Diaries and Scrap Books. This method can involve photos taken by staff/participants or newspaper clippings etc. involving the project. This method can be visually impressive and photos and pictures can be annotated to provide context.

d)    Video and Audio Diaries. Like other visual methods, video and audio diaries can have a high impact and allow wider audiences to better understand your work. IRISS has produced a useful guide to Creative Storyboarding, Video Animation and Digital Storytelling.

e)    Participatory Video. In this approach people using a service take an active part in telling their story, using a film-camera, or directing the action. It gives individuals the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and observations of change on their own terms, and according to individual choices, abilities and interests. There is more information in Nick and Chris Lunch's Participatory Video Handbook.

Benefits

  • Minimises the problems of 'recall' as the events are recorded close to the time that they occurred
  • Useful when information of a sensitive nature is to be collected and an interview might be embarrassing
  • A useful tool when observation is not possible

 Challenges

  • Often places most of the responsibility for data collecting on the participant/respondent
  • The completion of the diary or blog may be haphazard
  • The accuracy of the data that are collected is difficult to confirm
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Resources

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation effectively covers the basis of some of the noted techniques in its excellent introductory guide to evaluation.

IRISS have a number of creative resources available on their website.

The Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives (University of Manchester) has produced a series of very useful guides of various techniques including Using Participatory Visual Methods, Participant-produced VideoUsing Diaries, and Informed Consent for Visual Research.