Monday, September 6, 2010

Online Feedback VS. Paper-based Feedback

Recently, we concluded the 5th Phase of the TECHIE project, Marketing Research and Intelligence through Technology Applications. Briefly, it covered some tools to monitor your website, analytics, and some basic SEO. We also taught the participants what the data from analytics meant for their website and business.

Now, it is a part of our S.O.P. as trainers to get the participants' feedback after every three-day training and we have done this in the previous trainings by asking the participants to fill up one or two pages of feedback form. However, since we wanted to promote technology to Davao's MSMEs, we trashed the traditional, paper-based feedback and conducted the feedback survey online through our newly-established website, techie.davao-ice.com. We translated everything on the paper-based feedback form into an online survey form and asked the participants to log-in and fill up the form. The contents were basically the same and only the input method was different this time.

When their feedbacks were in, I noticed a major but good difference in their answers. For starters, they were very open and expressive in the online survey, unlike the paper-based survey we conducted where they made almost no comments and just rated every item rather carelessly. Most of them filled up the comments/remarks fields, besides rating the particular survey item, and they were rather thoughtful and straightforward comments. There were also rather negative remarks (objective not subjective) that surfaced in the online feedback, which I do not consider bad because they were able to say what they really wanted to say. Because of these results, it got me thinking why they were able to let out their thoughts and comments more openly in the online survey rather than the paper-based survey when they were supposed to be intimidated with technology. I mean, that's why they attended our trainings in the first place.

It was a really interesting discovery and I could come up with a couple of ideas why their feedbacks came out like that.
  • First of all, if I compare the online survey with the paper-based survey, I'd say the online survey gave them more anonymity than the paper-based survey where they had to turn in their papers personally. Perhaps the idea of having to turn in their paper personally prevented them from truly expressing their thoughts on the training because they're afraid to offend the trainers if they had any negative feedback.
  • Another reason might be because the space to write in the paper-based feedback was limited to what was provided on the paper. So, even if they had a lot to say, there's limited space for them to write on and they may have decided not to write anymore. Unlike the online feedback, we instead provided them with a scrollable text area where they can type in whatever comes to mind.
  • Finally, an online survey form may seem a bit more intimidating than the paper-based survey so they might have felt that they were required to fill up everything. Of course, not all of them filled up everything and gave remarks but most did and I really appreciate that.
So between the online and paper-based feedback, I think I prefer doing the post-training feedback online. Not only do the participants enjoy doing things online, but they were also able to comment on what they liked and didn't like about the training more openly.

Of course, I did not escape from their negative comments but I don't take them personally. Rather, I appreciated their comments about me and my training style. If it weren't for the online feedback, I never would have known that they - or at least some of them - thought that I talked too fast and they could not catch up. I have never gotten this kind of remark from our previous surveys so I thought that I was doing okay. It was only until now that they explicitly stated that I talked too fast. I must admit that I was rather surprised, but I definitely took note of their comment and will try to slow down the next time around. :D

In conclusion, for Davao's MSMEs who were supposed to be intimidated with technology, they responded more thoughtfully and honestly in the online feedback than in the paper-based feedback. As for the reasons behind, I can only guess, but I was happy with the turnout.

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