The three readers of this blog know that I actually released beta version 1.0 back in August. I used the term "beta" because this was a preliminary and cautious release. Anyone interested in getting an instructor account to use my tool needed my approval. It's not that I was expecting thousands of people to start using it, but I deliberately wanted to keep the number of users very small in order to have them help to spot problems and bugs, while also suggesting ideas for further development. As an unfunded project with me as chief designer, programmer, web developer, statistician, PR department, and marketer, there are likely to be a lot of as yet undetected errors. I didn't want too many people cursing my name from afar as the errors were revealed.
As it turned out, very few instructors have signed up to be users, which has been disappointing, even though I've made three presentations about this project since the release of version 1.0, including one at the annual conference of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) in November and another at the Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy (CHEP) at Virginia Tech in February. I've also sent out two announcements about my app to the Q-Method listserv run out of Kent State University. I actually had quite a few inquiries from the Q-Method folks, but only about whether my app could be used for research projects. I explained that my main goal and purpose in developing the app has been for instructional, not research, applications. These folks wished me well, but obviously had little interest other than the app's potential for conducting Q methodology research.
Time For Me to Sit Up and Pay Attention
So, for the last month or so I've started to rethink the goals of my Q sort project with an eye toward expanding it to include the needs of Q researchers. Obviously, that is the group who has shown the most interest and encouragement. So I decided to go for the best of both worlds by making my Q sort tool viable for Q researchers and people like me who want to tap the power of Q for enhancing instruction. To that end, I've made some important updates to the tool, many in just the past week (thanks to this being spring break here at the University of Georgia). This set of revisions mark an important milestone in the ideation and iterations of the design, especially as I write a draft design article about this project for presentation at the upcoming AERA conference in New York.
Here is a short summary of those updates.
Easy Exporting of the Data into Q Analysis Statistical Tools
Even though I was careful to make the raw data of a Q sort completed with my app readily accessible to a researcher, it was, well, really raw. With the help of one of my doctoral students, Tong Li, I added an export option in the instructor version of my app. This option now makes it very easy to export the data to the popular Q analysis applications, such as PQMethod an Ken-Q. I've become a big fan of the Ken-Q Analysis Tool, mainly because it's a web site, not a standalone app (and it's free), so I made a quick video on how to export data from my app into it: