AQR's Digital Course aimed to help us get up to speed with the latest techniques and principles while providing practical examples to help us design more engaging, effective and creative online and mobile qual projects. The most enticing prospect was the chance it offered to develop our skills via hands-on exercises and a library of online techniques.

Did it deliver? Well, I turned up armed with three main objectives. I wanted to:

  • learn about the variety of online qualitative research options available;
  • understand when is the most appropriate time to use online qualitative methodologies, and
  • find out any top tips for keeping respondents engaged online.

The day began with a debate about the pros and cons of online vs offline research. To my surprise I discovered that online qualitative research was appropriate for a much broader range of projects than I had initially imagined.

Sessions from Tom Woodnutt (Feeling Mutual), Beth Metcalfe (Join the Dots), Stephen Cribbett (Dub), Dan Stracey (Dub) and Jessica Owens (Pulsar) covered mobile ethnography, community management and social media listening. We learnt about the common pitfalls when conducting online research and how important forward-planning is to the success of a project. The most enjoyable part of the day for me was when we were able to have a go at cracking client briefs ourselves.

The course fulfilled all three of the objectives I had set and I left feeling confident to recommend online qualitative research as a supplement to offline research. I’d recommend this course to any quallies looking to learn more about online methodologies, when to use them and the various techniques available to keep respondents engaged.

As a course, I don’t reckon there is much room for improvement — but I would have loved to get my hands dirty trying out some of the online platforms we were shown. Next time, maybe?