During the first month of the semester the Digital Ethnography class of 2008 has been hard at work trying to leverage various online tools to improve our collaborative research efforts. We have managed to pull together a number of free tools into a single research platform that I think is going to work out very nicely.
Our homebase is on the new Netvibes Ginger release. Tariq Krim was nice enough to give us access a couple months ago, so we were able to build up a nice little research home on the web:
Feel free to visit. It is open for all to see. This “homebase” brings together a number of tools we are using:
Google Calendar: to stay on task
Diigo: to share links and notes on online resources
Zoho Creator: This allows us to create data entry forms. Any researcher (I prefer this term to “student” for this class) can access these forms from anywhere and enter data they have collected. We use this for our more systematic analyses of videos. I put in an example below. On the left is a small window to navigate YouTube videos. On the right is one of our data entry forms. Researchers can watch the video while entering data on the right. All data goes directly to a spreadsheet where it can be exported and analyzed.
Wetpaint Wiki: This is where most of our data is shared. We are (or soon will be) posting class notes, research notes, fieldnotes, insights, research plans, etc. We are trying to be as transparent and open as possible with our research. In fact, we welcome anybody to join our wiki and work right along with us. We would welcome the help!
We are also now experimenting with a grading structure in which some of the grading will be done by peers. You can see our latest model on our wiki (on a page called “A radical proposal …”)
If you are interested in seeing where all this is going, the best place to look is our Project Sandbox.
I also use a wiki for my class of 200+ students and I have been very pleased with the results. I’ll post more about that later.