Digital video and data collection

Authors: Berit Henriksen, Carey Jewitt, Sara Price, and Mona Sakr

How people interact with one another, objects, and digital environments, is increasingly multimodal. This raises significant challenges for collecting research data, in part because many features of interaction in digital environments cannot be captured adequately using traditional methods or tools (e.g. audio recording, field notes, or still-cameras). Here we briefly introduce some alternative devices and applications being explored at MODE, an NCRM node on methods that extend visual and multimodal data sets.

Video has become a primary data collection tool for those researching multimodal environments. It meets the data requirements of capturing fine-grained detail of all modes, and retains the real-time sequential character of interaction.  Using video for social research raises conceptual, research design,  and pragmatic questions and decisions (Jewitt, 2013). In addition to the ‘standard’ third person researcher generated video, however, digital video data can be collected via cameras embedded in professional contexts and tools (e.g. surgical light-handles or Laparoscopic cameras); wearable sub-cam glasses; body worn cameras; head mounted cameras; and micro cameras embedded in objects. Each of these generates data from different perspectives, shapes the representation of interaction – what is included, excluded or foregrounded – and tends to be embedded in different theoretical concepts and processes.


Figure 1 a) Researcher generated video

Figures 1a and b, taken from a MODE study exploring school students’ interaction with iPads to learn about the history of World War II in their locale, indicate the different types of perspectives these can generate.

We are exploring how these different data collection techniques can contribute to researching embodied learning in digital environments, together with investigating the value of computer generated data and digital apps as data collection tools.


Figure 1b) Participant head mounted video

Jewitt, C. (2012) An introduction to using video for research:

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