My experience with new technology: Household survey for FATE-Laos Team

Written by Maliphone Douangphachanh.

Using tablet for household survey is a challenge for some of our country teams, especially for the Lao team where using table for household survey is a new technique. Dr. Saithong Phommavong is the main person who has a vision for capacity building for both National University of Laos and FATE project in the future. He fully encouraged creating xlsform for electronic survey by using tablet. At the beginning, Dr. Saithong Phommavong and I had meeting and discussed about survey with Dr. Micheal Epprecht and Mr. Souphaphone Phathitmyxay since they already had done many surveys by using tablets (ODK app).  Souphaphone is a database & GIS specialist of CDE. He gave a brief overview of using tablets for household surveys. I found that it is not easy to do so. This task really needs a person in charge to create and edit form through questionnaire all the time.  The xlsform needs to be tested many times until it can work properly.

The enumerators at Vienkeo Village during tablets testing

The enumerators at Vienkeo Village during tablets testing

The big support came from CDE office especially Dr. Michael Epprecht who allowed Mr. Souphaphone Phathitmyxay to help me. Whenever I had questions regarding xlsform, he was pleased to help. It was a very good start for Lao team that Maurice already created the basis of the xlsform for FATE-project. At first, I had to explore how to create an xlsform. I learned from internet by myself via YouTube and asked Google what I did not know. I also followed the links on how to create xlsform that Mr. Maurice Tschopp who is PhD candidate of FATE project shared  and  links of survey CTO information and FAQ (http://www.surveycto.com/about.html, coding: General information on survey on xls forms:  Instructions, software and training manuals for xls forms: https://opendatakit.org/use/xlsform/ , and Examples of xls forms/ODK programing: https://opendatakit.org/help/form-design/examples/). This was a great opportunity for me to learn a very new project. I spent a lot of time learning by doing the coding of xlsform for survey CTO. I worked on it about three weeks (testing and editing xlsform). I stayed up late almost every day during these time. Eventually, I was able to created xlsform for Survey CTO. I feel very happy of this success even if it was not fully perfect.

Enumerator under training in using tablet

Enumerator under training in using tablet

After the creation of the xlsform, the next step was training for enumerators. The enumerators were lecturers and MA students from the faculty of Social Sciences, National University of Laos. They followed three trainings. Before the first training, I distributed questionnaire to them to read and tablets to try on.  For the first training, the enumerators were given an overview of software by Mr. Souphaphone Phathitmyxay.  Then, they practiced using tablet in the fieldwork at Viengkeo village nearby the National University of Laos. In order to check the questionnaire on the tablets, enumerators were divided in pairs, one enumerator used tablet and another one used the questionnaire printed. They highlighted the errors. After complete testing tablet, they gave feedback on the questionnaire printed. The xlsform was updated again regarding the errors after this practice. Lastly, they were trained to confirm with using tablet as well as familiar with questionnaire on tablet.

Group Discussion after testing tablet

Group Discussion after testing tablet

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