Google Forms – new look, versatile tool

Google-Apps-640x350Forms are one of the most useful tools in the Google toolkit. For some time, however, users have been looking for more functionality and an improved appearance in the product.  It’s finally here with the recent announcement that Google Forms has a range of new themes and options, including the ability to customise the theme with your own image.  These changes have really lifted the appearance and make them a great deal more appealing.

New to Google Forms?  This Tour of Google Forms is prior to the themes upgrade but gives a clear introduction of the main features for the uninitiated.

Forms have a multitude of uses from data gathering, questionnaires, competitions, analysis of an embedded video, surveys, self-graded tests, short story competitions … the list is endless.  Google educator Molly Schroeder’s examples of Using Google Forms is a source of inspiration, although once you start using them you won’t be short of ideas yourself.

At the recent Melbourne Google Summit the professional conversations around the use of Google tools was inspiring.  With so many schools now using Google Apps for Education, the Summit was an ideal place to pick up practical tips that could immediately be applied to the classroom.   In this video Chris Betcher, another leading Google educator and generous sharer of knowledge, explains some of the lesser known, innovative features in Google Forms.  Chris’s Google Summit resources site is packed with ideas and assistance.

A colleague who attended the Google Summit with me has been ‘set on fire’ with the functionality of Chrome extensions Doctopus and Goobric, using them to manage the workload of senior Maths and Accounting classes. It is certainly worth exploring Google Apps for Education and tapping into the resources of the many knowledgeable educators associated with it.

Put the Google Drive Blog in your RSS feed reader to keep posted on the constant improvements.  The Google Educast podcast on the Edreach Network is also a favourite of mine for keeping in touch with Google Apps for Education news, ideas and application to the classroom.  So much to learn, thank goodness for our Personal Learning Networks!

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Online surveys

There are some useful free survey tools available on the internet. They include Google forms and SurveyMonkey.

Google forms can be accessed through Google Docs. Once in the docs account, just click on ‘new’ and select ‘form’. Questions can be added and edited quite easily and users can select from a number of different question options such as multiple choice, text box and so on. Once  the survey is finished being written, users are given a link to email or embed into a website. Here is an example of a survey  created with Google. Responses are then automatically recorded by Google docs for analysis at a later stage.

SurveyMonkey comes complete with themes and supports the use of any language. It is easy to write questions and SurveyMonkey gives guidance and options about type of questions as well as having the option of a spellchecker. Once the questions have been written and the survey is ready to be sent, users are given the option of a URL or having a survey pop up on their web page. If the URL option is selected, then the URL can then be added to a blog or wiki as a link or the URL can be emailed to contacts.

SurveyMonkey home
SurveyMonkey home
Data collection from survey responses can be limited by date or number of respondents. Survey results can be viewed in real time and converted to charts and graphs. There is a limit of ten questions for the free account, however that can be overcome by splitting surveys into two parts.
SurveyMonkey does have a premium service and there is at least one school in Victoria that subscribes to it. As they survey all students in relation to Principles of Learning and Teaching and SurveyMonkey does complex analysis for them, they see the investment of US$200 p.a. as a good investment. SurveyMonkey is infinitely more attractive than Google Forms. Here is an example  of what can be achieved in minutes with  a free SurveyMonkey account.
SurveyMonkey is an extremely useful and usable tool and their surveys have a more attractive and professional look than Google forms.