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Data Collection Using Mobile Phones in Developing Countries: New Approaches with SMS, IVR, Web, and CATI (Online)

November 12, 2021 @ 10:00 am - 2:00 pm

Register here!

This one day course will be offered via Zoom only. Attendance is required as it will not be recorded.

The rapid growth of mobile phones in developing countries opens up new possibilities for data collection. Short message service (SMS), interactive voice response (IVR), online surveys (web) and computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) can produce data faster and less expensively than face-to-face surveys. This course will introduce students to the design and implementation of SMS, IVR, Web, and CATI surveys in low- and middle-income countries.

In this course, Dr. Lau will draw from real world examples to illustrate how these modes work. We will also discuss basic survey design principles in each mode, focusing on sampling, questionnaire development, and survey design. New for this year’s course: Students will work in small groups to design questionnaires and collect data in real time via SMS and IVR using a free, open source survey tool.

There are no prerequisites for this course, but basic familiarity with survey research in developing countries is helpful.

This course will count as 4.0 CSS short course credit hours.

Instructor: Charles Lau

Charles Lau designs and implements surveys in low- and middle-income countries. He directs projects through the survey cycle, including study design, questionnaire development, sampling, interviewer training, data collection, analysis, and reporting. Dr. Lau has led surveys in 17 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In these countries, he has used different modes of data collection, including face-to-face interviewing with tablets, telephone, web, and short message service (SMS). With funding from governments, foundations, and commercial clients, his work has covered various topics including health, education, politics, and technology. He also publishes research on cross-cultural issues in survey design, interviewer and mode effects, and sampling approaches in developing countries. Dr. Lau joined RTI in 2010.

Registration fees:

  • Certificate of Survey Students: $30
  • UNC CH Students: $40
  • UNC-CH Faculty/Staff/Postdoc: $60
  • Non-UNC-CH: $60

Additional course information:

  • Registration closes at 12:01am 11/9/2021. No late registrations will be accepted.
  • Cancellation/ Refund Policy: A full refund will be given to those who cancel their registration no later than 10 days prior to the course. If you cancel within the 10 days prior to the class, no refund will be given. Please allow 30 days to receive your refund.
  • Zoom link for this course will be sent prior to the course. Registration must be made at least 3 days prior to the course date to receive the Zoom link.

For questions regarding the status of this class, please contact Jill Stevens at


November 12, 2021
10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Event Categories:


NC United States