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Google Forms: Making Your Life Easier, One Form at a Time

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Written by: Evan Sanderson

You’re standing in front of class, passing around a sign in sheet, and thinking: There’s got to be a better way to gather my students emails. Or maybe you’ve just taught a particularly tricky concept, and you want to make sure your students have grasped (most of) it. Wouldn’t it be easy to have a system that designs and administers the form for you?

Google thought it would be, and that’s why the came up with Google Forms. Accessible through Google Drive, Google Forms allows users to design and administer “forms”. Pedagogically speaking, forms can take the shape of quizzes or polls, and Forms will even collate and organize the data for you.

To learn more, watch the CTRL instructional video on Google Forms here:

Mobile Tool Review: Poll Everywhere

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This Mobile Tool Review was written by Paul Prokop, Online Learning Trainer and Curriculum Designer, and James R. Lee, Associate Director for Technical Support and Training.

Poll Everywhere

Cost

Free for 40 (or less) participants and education pricing plans available for larger groups

Platform

Available on Apple’s iTunes App Store, Google Play, and on any Internet browser through www.polleverywhere.com. Participants can respond through text message, Twitter, an Internet browser, or the app.

What does it do?

Poll Everywhere allows anyone to gather instant feedback through multiple-choice and open-ended prompts.

This app is a useful product. Faculty should, however, think about using in sensible ways and not simply because it is a flashy technology. It works well for faculty that teach larger classes or desire anonymous responses.  It can illustrate different attitudes towards key issues, get reactions to assignments, or demonstrate an understanding of basic course concepts. On the other hand, Poll Everywhere may not be worth the effort to those teaching a small seminar class that doesn’t require anonymous responses. Rather than waste the time and energy needed to set up a poll, isn’t it  easier and “greener” to ask students to raise their hands?

Which class can you use it in?

Any class that would like to visualize instant feedback, anonymous responses, or a back-channel discussion.

Advantages

  • The best feature is the ease and look/feel of the app.
  • Faculty can use Poll Everywhere to ask many types of questions. For example, an instructor could ask students to offer their interpretations of class material or quickly poll the room to gauge understanding of course content.
  • Faculty can also create questions on the fly and provide a more personalized educational experience.

Disadvantages

  • Students must have charged and functioning mobile devices (smartphone, laptop, or standard text-enabled phones all work). Also, students may not wish to participate in the activities or discussion questions. This tool should be used for inclusion not for exclusion.
  • Additionally, students may face SMS charges through their cell phone carrier. However, they can use free tools such as Twitter or  Poll Everywhere’s website interface.
  • Faculty may need a subscription for large classrooms.
  • Faculty should take time to craft well-designed and thoughtful questions ahead of time through the web-based site.
  • Piazza has a polling feature that works well and does not require cell phones.

Overall Grade

B+ for students, B for faculty

More Information

Mobile Tool Review: Piazza Mobile App

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Piazza’s mobile app links to a wiki-style discussion board forum that has been established for a specific class by an AU faculty member. With Piazza embedded in Blackboard, students, instructors, and TAs enrolled in the class can stay updated with real-time posts and announcements on this mobile platform.

Cost and Platform

Free.  Available in Apple iTunes, App store, and Google Play store.  There appears to be no discernible differences between features on the iPhone versus the Android.

Advantages

The advantage of this app is that faculty and students can access Piazza on the go. The user interface is aesthetically pleasing. Faculty can do the following:

  • respond to student’s questions and edit student’s responses
  • endorse student’s answers
  • enable/disable anonymity settings for student posts
  • utilize the LaTeX editor for formulas and equations
  • designate “tags” for easy search capabilities

Disadvantages

Both students and faculty need to register with a .edu e-mail. Videos do not appear to be embedded on the mobile app as they are on the desktop version, but the hyperlink of a posted video will appear. The polling option is not available through the app. Finally, the app requires that you log in to Piazza separately from Blackboard even though it is integrated into Blackboard.

Overall

The best feature is the ease and look/feel of the app.

Grade:   B+ for students, B for faculty

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