Google Docs offers a free suite of online tools to create and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and drawings. These features closely mimic many of the products offered by Microsoft Office's Word, Excel, and PowerPoint except that, since they are web based, they offer the additional feature of real-time collaboration amongst multiple users. Google Forms is probably the most unique aspect of the Google Docs productivity suite because it provides a free service that is not found in Microsoft Office or easily be found anywhere else; the ability to create online surveys and forms that automatically populate a spreadsheet for storing and organizing the collected data. This can be a very powerful tool in many educational settings.
Tom Barrett, a visionary educational technologist from Nottingham, England, has even set up a Google Presentation that is being created collaboratively by dozens of users world-wide of 60 Different Ways and Tips to Use Google Forms in the Classroom. Since this document itself is a Google Presentation that anyone can edit, you can even add your own uses for Google Forms in your classroom. (I added #59.)
Some examples of ways that I have used Google Forms in my classroom is for project based learning, t create a Designer Baby Form as a part of an integrated 9th Grade Biology and English unit on Fate and Free Will, and for Junior and Senior School-Wide Elective Request Forms. Here are some details about my various forms.
- I use a Google Form for all of my project based learning activities. Students choose from a list of topics for their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices. They also choose if they wish to have a partner and, if they answer yes, who that partner should be. I embed this form on the class wiki and then embed a 2nd Google Form with the Project Groups and Topics based on the student feedback as well as a URL for an IEtherpad page for each group to show their work. This way, I solve the sticky problem with all projects of assigning topics and partners since I give the students a voice in each of these decisions.
- I also created a Designer Baby Form for our integrated Genetics unit. The goal of this unit was for students to realize that any genetic choice can have unintended consequences and therefore requires serious thought. In the hypothetical form, students were asked to choose whether they wanted their child to be a boy or girl, tall or short, brown hair or blond, and what profession, and other skills and/or hobbies they wanted for their baby. Each choice also carried with it other consequences. For example, if they chose that their child should be a tennis pro, she would also be color blind, while a marathon runner carried with her a risk of colon cancer. This form "forced" students to make these tough choices and also allowed us to collect the data from 142 student submissions and present them to the class as a valuable follow-up activity.
- One of the great features of Google Forms that helped facilitate this activity is the ability in a multiple choice question to jump to different pages in the form depending on different responses. For example, if students chose a baby with brown eyes and brown hair, it would jump to one set of possibilities, while a decision for blond hair, blue eyes led to a different set of choices.
- I also used a Google Form to create our Junior and Senior School-Wide Elective Request Forms. Once again, this form involved students making certain choices of electives that necessarily limited their future choices. For example, a student choosing to take a foreign language is limited in her choice of a second elective. The Google Form allowed us to easily create these different possibilities through multiple choice questions that jumped to different pages based on different responses.
For a complete step by step tutorial on creating Google Forms, I highly recommend Tom Barrett's entry on Using Google Forms in the Classroom. Tom Barrett also has an excellent entry on Using Google Forms with Twitter complete with a sample Google Form.
I have included a Google Survey about this TechRav blog below. The purpose of this form is two-fold.
- Firstly, I have tried to use as many question types as possible in this form so you can see a real-world example of the Google Forms' various features. I have included Text Questions, Paragraph Text, Multiple Choice, Checkboxes, Choose from a List, a Scale, and a Grid. One of my Multiple Choice questions navigates you to a different page according to your response. I also included a personalized confirmation message for anyone who fills out this survey. It is my hope that this survey can serve as a model for designing your own classroom surveys.
- I must admit that I also have a selfish motive for including this survey; I want your feedback. Besides the occasional comment on a posting or encouraging tweet or email, I work as most bloggers do, mostly in the dark. I have no idea how you, the reader, think or feel about my postings. This survey is my first formal attempt to elicit feedback. I also invite you to join in on the conversation. My survey asks for ideas for future postings and even offers you the chance to volunteer to be a guest blogger. Please fill in this survey, being as brutally honest as you can. I welcome any and all feedback. Thank you for being a part of the conversation.