If you have not recently created a spreadsheet in Google Documents and used the free option to create a form, you should give it a try. I still subscribe to Surveymonkey and use it for some web surveys, but increasingly I find myself using Google Documents for web forms. Why?

  1. It is free so when I show it to someone and they say, “Boy that’s cool, I’d like to do that” my answer can be, “You can! Just use your Google Account and go to Google Documents.”
  2. It is easy to share access with others, whether you want to collaborate or just provide read-only access.
  3. Data in the spreadsheet is easy to aggregate, analyze and graph either online or in a downloadable Excel or Open Office Spreadsheet formatted file. We want students to understand the power and possibilities latent in data-driven decision making– There is no better way to do this than empowering students to become data gatherers and utilizers with a tool like Google Forms.
  4. Asking even a small number of people to email in responses to a series of questions can quickly become cumbersome. It is so much easier to ask folks to submit a quick online form. (Lee Lefever’s “Google Docs in Plain English” video is a good visual explanation of how this can get complex and unwieldy fast with a newsletter, but the same applies for other bits of info you need to collect from others.)
  5. You feel VERY powerful and uber-connected when you realize you have the power at your fingertips to share links to customized online forms anytime, anywhere. 🙂

Google forms now allows you to REQUIRE that folks enter certain fields before submitting the form:

Google docs forms let you require fields

As before, you can have text fields, text area fields, multiple choice, and other field types. I LOVE the language at the top of the page when you start creating a Google spreadsheet form: “Results will be magically entered into this spreadsheet!”

Results will be magically entered

Isn’t that so true! All technology at some level is “magical.” Some people have more words to describe what is happening and how it works, but there is still an aura of magic and mystery around many technologies which can be at times hidden, and at other times very overt.

I love Google Documents, and especially the fact that access to them is free!

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One Response to Magically entered data

  1. Melanie Jennings says:

    When I first discovered this feature, I fell in love. However, in using it to collect data from teachers in my technology training courses, I find that for some reason, they frequently do not receive the e-mail form or the form does not display properly. Have you had similar experiences? If so, do you have a “fix” for the problem. For now, I’m just e-mailing them the URL to go to the form directly, but that certainly takes away from the “cool factor” of having a working form within their e-mail message.

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