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Posts Tagged ‘form

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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I have a two-part reflection on how administration holds back meaningful change.

The first is an account of two recent experiences, the second something that sparked reminders from years ago. By the end of part 2, I suggest how administrators, like good educators, can learn when and how to step out of the way so good things can happen.

Last week I used a website to terminate an auto-payment function in my travel card. A day later, I received an ominous reply: Application rejected.

Application rejected, without saying why.

I was told WHAT happened, but not WHY it happened. I was also told HOW I could resubmit the application, but without knowing WHY, I would be rejected again.

So why was there no mention of WHY?

The administratively efficient thing to do is say yes or no. The more effective thing to do is tell you why. Administrators often get lost not just in rules and bureaucracy, but also in striving for productivity and efficiency. In doing so, they forget the effectiveness of actually helping people.

About a week before that, I wanted to stem the tide of senseless marketing material from an insurance provider.

PDPA and saying no to spam.

I logged in to my account to try to make the change highlighted above. Before I could do that, I had to accept a personal data statement and declare my income tax status.

Needing information about my taxes was administrative overkill when all I wanted to do what stop email and SMS spam. How is this conversation logical?

Me: I do not want your spam.
U: OK. Do you pay Singapore taxes?
Me: How is that relevant?
U: Just answer the question. Do you pay Singapore taxes?
Me: I still do not see how that information is necessary.
U: I need your answer or we cannot proceed.
Me: Fine. Of course, I pay taxes.
U: OK. Here comes the next bit about PDPA…

The Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) has been in place since 2012. Organisations that collect my data are required by default to follow that law.

I am not sure why I need to read statements about the organisation following the law when all I want is to say no-thank-you to marketing material. Maybe it was something called administrative transparency.

Mobile phone number not allowed as home phone number.

Speaking of personal data, the system insisted I provided my home telephone number. I put my mobile number because I do not leave my iPhone outside my door when I walk in.

However, the form saw no humour or logic in indicating that my mobile number was also my home phone number. I could not go further in submitting the form without a landline number. How about people who do not have landlines?

Forbes: Landlines in decline

I could not find any data about the decline of landlines from SingStat, but my guess is that we trend like any other developed nation.

TLDR? I have just described two examples of how administrators and administration often favour form over function. As a result, the administration that should help ends up hindering. It should enable but it disables instead.

Yesterday I shared some visual design considerations I take for my talks. Today I focus on interaction design.

My latest effort is a step down from what I normally do. I am designing for lower grade interaction by leaving out a backchannel throughout the session and one-minute paper at the end.

I am doing this because I understand my overseas audience. It is a place I have been invited to every year since 2013 and the mobile connection is unpredictable. It is not that they are unresponsive; they just cannot reliably connect to the Internet.

That said, I am still relying on two online tools that require low bandwidth from the participants.

My go-to presentation platform is Google Slides because it is free, flexible, and online. I can edit the content up to the last minute and share the slides with my audience.


Video source

In terms of interaction, I intend to try Google Slide’s “new” Q&A tool since I am not relying on my preferred tool, TodaysMeet. The audience can participate by suggesting and ranking questions.

I will also use Google Form’s quiz and auto-grading feature (similar to Flubaroo). I will create this experience for my participant as an introduction to being information literate and to establish the themes of my session.

Mobile access to online quiz and themes of my session.

I anticipate that most participants will be armed with their own phones and this will also be message about leveraging on BYOD and personal forms of learning.

Most talks seem to focus on the talk. I plan mine with lessons from educational psychology and visual design principles. I try to focus on listening as I talk in order to change minds. This is effort that often goes unappreciated, but I know that it matters.

Today I present at the SST Tech Summit. It might seem like a technical session, but it is actually about creating readiness, retentiveness, and reflectiveness.

My Google Slides are at http://bit.ly/gform-primer.

I described my 45-minute session as a pedagogical-technical one even as the summit focuses on Google Apps. My research and experience remind me that the pedagogy must lead and guide the technology.

It is easy to know HOW create a Google Form and even know WHAT questions to ask but not know WHY. It is just as easy to keep using forms for exactly the same thing, i.e., collecting information.

Google Forms are also good for priming both the teacher and the learner. The teacher can gain insights into the learners and find out their readiness or prior knowledge. If a teacher prepares a media-and-URL-rich form, the form serves to activate schema and can be an advance organizer for learning.

When used for quizzes BEFORE content delivery, teachers can create environments for emphasizing the WHY of learning and just-in-time instruction. This is a variant of assessment AS learning.

Google Forms do not offer these functions out of the box. It is up to an educator to shape these opportunities based on his or her pedagogical prowess.


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