Another dot in the blogosphere?

A lesson from a Google Form

Posted on: August 7, 2018

This is not going to be a lesson on how to create a Google Form. It is about how to design and use a Google form.

For the impatient, here is the lesson upfront: Design not from a provider’s point of view, but from a seeker’s perspective. The extension to teaching is this: Teach not just to deliver without learner concerns; seek to educate by empathising with the learner.

How did this lesson emerge?

An ex-colleague tweeted an open invitation to attend two talks at my former workplace, NIE. I was excited to attend because:

  • The first talk was by another ex-colleague who had also left NIE for greener pastures overseas. We graduated from the same Ph.D. programme and have not seen each other in years!
  • The second talk is relevant to a group of teachers I am guiding in the area of crafting narrative-driven research reports. Serendipity!

Naturally, I wanted to sign up for both since they were relevant and generously open. However, I stopped — or rather, the Google Form stopped me — when I hit this barrier:

A compulsory option in the Google Form that I did not agree to.

I could not submit the form unless I allowed my personal information to be used beyond contact for the talks.

Now one might argue that organisers are entitled to do this. They might be, even under the current PDPA law, but the consent should be an option instead of a must-have.

The move might be an oversight. But it could also be symptomatic of an authoritative, provider-driven approach, i.e., we provide a service so we tell you what to do or make demands of you.

The alternative approach is also a progressive one. It focuses on the seeker, participant, or learner. I am grateful for the opportunity and am willing to share information logically, but not at the expense of being marketed to. Being empathy-driven takes user privacy, space, and effort into consideration.

The difference in drive and design lies in mindset. In the age of social media, you can still operate in transmission mode, e.g., talking, telling, ordering others, etc. But you will not be as effective as if you are interactive and learn to negotiate.

The same could be said with old-school teaching that is dictated only by blind standards and context-free curriculum. The world is embracing educational experiences that rely on social constructivism, constructionism, and connectivism.

Those might be unexpected lessons from a simple Google Form. I offer my services on educating with learner empathy and perspective. I will not require your email address indefinitely to do so.

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