Grade 12 learners using Mobile Researcher to fill out a survey
Africaid has just began field research for a study that has been in the making for over a year. After so much buildup and anticipation it is great to finally get things rolling! As the WhizzKids United Health Academy in Edendale will open its doors on June 1st, we are carrying out a baseline survey of a random sample of primary and secondary students in Edendale schools. In this way we hope to produce scientific evidence for the impact of the Health Academy, as well as identifying the needs of its target population so that we can better serve them.
The field researchers are Ms. Lungile Maziya, a research nurse from Edendale Hospital, and Ms. Zanele Khanyile
, our own M&E Facilitator. Both of them are a lot of fun to work with, and are great at communicating with the kids.
One of the coolest things about this research is the way we collect data: kids enter the survey on mobile phones! Each question pops up on their screen and they choose their answer. Once they are finished, they hit "Submit" and the survey is instantly uploaded to our supplier′s server over the cellular network (and deleted from the phone)! This method has several advantages:
- No data entry!
- Environmentally friendly (no printing, no stapling, no paper waste)
- Data is more secure
- Respondents find the survey more engaging
- Best of all, respondents have greater privacy during the survey, as a phone screen is much easier to shield from prying eyes than a sheet of paper. If you imagine 40 kids in a cramped classroom answering the question, "How many sexual partners have you had in the past 6 months?" you will understand how important this added privacy is.
I am very grateful to Medical Research Council for their generous support by purchasing 50 Nokia handsets and allowing us to use them for research. The "Mobile Researcher" software and technical support has been provided by Clyral Creative Studios (
). We are also thankful to the ten schools in the sample who all readily agreed to participate in the study at such a busy time of year!