Virtual Focus Groups

Student thesis: Master programme thesis

  • Niels Troels-Smith
  • Lotte Nørregaard
4. term, Master of ICT and Learning (MIL) (Continuing education) (Continuing Education Programme (Master))
In transforming the face-to-face focus group method, we want to examine the possibilities and conditions to be met, if transferring the method from traditional to a virtual meeting room. The scientific framework of the report is within the Activity Theory, Activity Awareness and the theory of Communities of Practice. We have made two qualitative surveys. The first was a qualitative individual interview with 3 participants, representing different roles in a focus group, and the second was a video-recorded factual virtual focus group running at the platform Breeze. We found, that the some of the main requests to a virtual environment is a matter of feeling safe an comfortable. This means, the interface must express safeness in order to make the participants feel free in expressing themselves as honest as possible. The ability (and couriosity?) to watch and discover, what is going, on is quite essential, as the hallmark of focus groups is the explicit use of the group interaction to produce data. An interaction, which is produced by the verbal and non-verbal input, from all participants. So far the technology, but what about the skills of the participants? They must be able to meet the necessary level of expertise and familiarity with computers. Computer literacy is a measure, which generally refers to the ability to use applications rather than to program. Individuals who are very computer literate are sometimes called power users. In order to participate in virtual focus groups, you do not need the skills of a power user, but some routine ? especially in communication via the Internet is helpful In conclusion, we find, that the technical possibilities as well as the software platforms are available, there are great numbers of potential participants, with adequate background and skills ? we expect, that a change of mind among researchers ? commercial or scientific ? will occur over a short number of years, and the virtual focus group will be part of the general research tool-box. May 2006 ? Lotte Nørregaard, Niels Troels-Smith
Publication date2006
Number of pages122
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet
ID: 6979458