Posts Tagged ‘google form’
Whenever I facilitate learning at workshops or course modules, I try something new or tweak a time-tested process.
Here is some context first.
Last year, I facilitated ICT-focused classes for special needs/inclusive education teachers. The sessions were conducted in the evening and I did not change the active learning design this year. However, I made the effort to jump at the deep end, tried a different swim stroke, and dealt with an unexpected current.
What was the deep end jump?
I opted not to bring my Chromebook or Macbook Pro to the first session, and used the ageing desktop at the venue instead.
I used Chrome in Incognito mode to sign into various accounts, and with two-factor authentication via the Google app on my iPhone, was able to verify the log-in. When I was done with the session, I cleared the browser cache.
In between, I rediscovered the bane of YouTube ads because the Chrome browser on the desktop was not protected like my extension-enabled ones on my laptops. I wanted to show a small segment of a video but had to click away layered ads and two video ads that played before the actual video.
On hindsight, I could have relied on one of the many online services that let me download offline versions of entire videos or video segments.
As I neared the end of the session, the browser crashed. Ordinarily, this would mean having to log in to various services all over again. Thankfully, we were almost done and I did not have to do this. I also had my iPad on standby, but did not have to use it.
The interruptions due to the ads and crash were a reminder why facilitators should always bring their own devices. If you prepare and practice on that device, it is best to bring it along unless you like living dangerously.
Google Forms to form groups
What did I do a bit differently with folks that I had not met before?
I usually ask participants to complete a Google Form questionnaire before we meet. In one question, I ask participants to choose a focus area or issue. Instead of trying to deliver a one-size-fits-all experience, I want to shape a custom one.
I normally follow this up by showing the results of the questionnaire at the start of our meeting to remind them of their selections. This time round, I predefined groups based on their responses and indicated what these were in a Google Site page.
About a quarter of the class did not respond by the deadline, so I met these learners during a break to sort them out before the group-based activities. This was a necessary step since it is rare for everyone to complete tasks beforehand. I also had two last-minute additions who probably did not get the instructions.
Such a preemptive design prevents groups from self-selecting. In this context, however, I wanted groups to be as diverse but as focused as possible. Knowing how people tend to stay in their comfort zones both social and cognitive, my decision to do this turned out to be a good one. The discussions were rich and there was a lot of productive noise in the room.
Jumping Padlet notes
I like getting participants to use Padlets for reflective pitstops and exit tickets.
However, a recent change to the platform seems to have made the online stickies refresh and rearrange themselves more often. This meant that some of my learners could not compose their thoughts because the notes kept “jumping away” from them.
This did not seem to affect all of them equally. Anecdotally, I have found that this happens to owners of small screens and slower devices with older Android builds.
One alternative might be to provide Google Forms and share the resulting Google Sheet with my learners. However, this limits my participants to text instead of other media like audio, photos, or video in Padlet.
I also like my participants to take ownership of their notes and to revisit them at different stages of learning. They could co-edit the Google Sheet resulting from Forms, but this is not as natural as the simulated writing or drawing on an online sticky note.
No space for Google Space
Last year I used the then brand new Google Spaces and reflected on the pros and cons of using it versus Google Sites  . This year, Spaces will be shut down on 17 April in a failed Google experiment, whiles Sites, a mainstay for about a decade, lives on.
This meant transferring many resources, instructions, and activities to Sites from Spaces. This was no mean task as the two are not interoperable.
I also had to restructure the Site and this meant URLs changed. This affected the shortened URLs and QR codes I had created, so I had to make new ones, print them out as cards, and laminate them myself.
I was about to end this reflection when I remembered another step I took.
I normally send participants instructions to download and install a QR code reader. This makes it easy for them to access online resources instead of having to type URLs.
This time round I left this instruction out to see how adept my participants would be.
I was pleased to notes how several were game to use the QR codes on their own. Those that did not still had the benefit of using my shortened bit.ly URLs.
It is easy to be complacent and to coast with strategies that seem to work over different contexts and content. I choose not to do this.
I tell my learners that one of the best ways to learn is by cognitive dissonance. Better to live by this mantra than to come across as a hypocrite. If the situation does not provide these challenges, I create my own.
The CeL relies on an online work request form (above) to collect and document the e-learning job requests. For the last few months, this has been based on a Google Form (GF).
When a client fills in and submits a form, we get:
- the information automatically recorded in a Google Spreadsheet (GS, below)
- email notification that changes have been made to the spreadsheet
These are not unusual in that these are technical affordances of GS.
But getting the requests done this way has allowed social affordances: We have created other tabs in the spreadsheet to distinguish between new requests, work in progress and completed work. Everyone in my team gets to see what everyone else is doing and no one has overall control of the tool. The process is more transparent as is who is doing work (and who isn’t)!
While the email notification feature was nifty, it still required us to visit the spreadsheet online to see the actual requests or changes. Now thanks to a Google script, my team leaders and I get copies of the requests as email, not just notifications that the spreadsheet has been changed.
The discovery of the script was “serendipitous”: We were all socially bookmarking and sharing on Diigo what we were discovering on our own. One team member found it, shared it via our CeL Diigo group and I shared it with someone else in the team who made it work with our form. It’s all about connecting the dots!
We have also used GF to conduct surveys and to collect workshop feedback. A visualization on a survey on mobile learning preferences looks like this:
Better still, the information in the spreadsheet and the resulting visualizations get updated in real time!
I have also used GF and/or GS during my courses: Getting contact information, conducting self-grading quizzes, getting answers from my audience as they consume media, etc. The technical affordances pushed me to think of new social and pedagogical ones.
Now I am wondering how we might use a system like this at an institutional level. More thoughts on this tomorrow…
I asked all five of my classes (130 trainee teachers) to participate in a short survey about Google Docs. To date, 114 of them have responded.
I used Google Forms to create the survey. Part of the automatically generated summary is shown below (click image to see it in original size).
As expected, nine out of ten have not heard that schools will adopt Google Apps by the end of the year. The announcement was made only in late September.
I am hoping that my attempt at integrating Google Apps will not only ease the transition but also enable them to learn the concepts of EdPsych2 more actively, collaboratively and meaningfully.