Thursday, April 23, 2009

GoogleForms - a beginning

By now, some of you may be familiar with GoogleDocs. Very simply, GoogleDocs is a web-based word processor. If you sign up for a simple Google account (same thing as a Gmail account) you can create as many GoogleDocs as your heart desires! There are the obvious benefits of a web-based word processor, such as being able to access your documents anywhere and any time. But GoogleDocs has some added benefits, such as being able to share your documents with others, and best of all - collaborating on the same document in real time. If you can use MicroSoft Word, you can use GoogleDocs - it's even easier than Word.

Part of GoogleDocs is something called GoogleForms. There are many, many uses for GoogleForms, but for the purposes of this post, I'll begin with a useful one teachers will like - making on-line tests. There are lots of ways to custom create your own tests on GoogleForms, but the simplest way is to just create a form from Google's custom template.

Here is an example of how I created one of these for a French Test I gave today. I went into my GoogleDocs, then clicked New>Form. The template opened up, and since my test was all short answer, I chose the "text" option for all of my questions. You can also choose paragraph text, multiple choice, check boxes, choose from a list or a scale.

It was easy to enter my test title, my test directions, and then just enter the questions or problems for the test.

Here was the best part - I had two options for how to use this test - both great. I could email the test to my students, or embed it in my class blog or wiki. I've embedded part of the test in this blog so that you can see what it looks like. My students entered their answers on the computer, and submitted them to me. I received their responses on the form immediately!

The benefits of this? I have one student who is away on a trip - she can take the test while she is gone (under the supervision of her chaperone). This benefit applies to any time I have students absent on test days - easy to make special arrangements this way! I don't have to make paper copies of the test and I have a permanent record of the test. I can easily monitor the integrity of the test-takers in my room via Network Observer, or walking around and looking over shoulders. And dare I mention - students who don't have access to a computer can take the test on their cell phone if it has internet access!

Here is a sample of part of the test I gave today - it gave me an embed code for blogs and wikis that I just pasted in here (I put it on the class wiki for my students). Students can type their answers in the blanks, scroll down to the end and "submit" - voila! I have their test!

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