GoPro as an ethnographic tool

This article concerning using GoPro cameras is interesting and probably relevant to some of the work on video methods in geography… obviously the rationale used here differs from some work in geography but methodologically I think it’s useful. I suspect that this would also be relevant for student dissertation research too, where it seems there is an appetite for adopting more novel and experimental methods (at least amongst the work I’ve seen).

GoPro as an Ethnographic Tool: A Wayfinding Study in an Academic Library.
Kinsley, Kirsten, Schoonover, Dan, Spitler, Jasmine

In this study, researchers sought to capture students’ authentic experience of finding books in the main library using a GoPro camera and the think-aloud protocol. The GoPro provided a first-person perspective and was an effective ethnographic tool for observing a student’s individual experience, while also demonstrating what tools they use to find items. Using the think-aloud protocol, observers could hear students express their internal decisions, thoughts, and feelings about the process. Results confirmed trouble spots in the building and that directories are not typically used and need updating. GoPro footage revealed that there are certain qualities of the help-desk experience that can make a search more or less successful. No major sex differences were found in preference of wayfinding tools and behaviors, except that males appear to have used directories marginally more than females. In a debriefing survey, students still affirmed human help and online maps as the most useful wayfinding tools and advocated for better signage. Mapping of behaviors by floor also validated GoPro observations. At low cost to the library, the GoPro/think-aloud combination along with survey and mapping methodologies affirmed trouble spots in the building and provided suggestions for wayfinding improvements to library administration.

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