dan lasota's masters in education portfolio for online innovation and design


Google Docs Survey

12 August 2012

The following survey would be hypothetically given to faculty who had participated in a UAF iTeach Seminar. The purpose is to solicit feedback so future seminars could be improved. The still open survey is available at iTeach Faculty Development Feedback.

My experience working with Google Spreadsheets for this web survey was a bit frustrating. Although it was extremely easy to produce the survey and format the questions, sharing the results and formatting the reporting data was difficult due to the limited working features in Google Spreadsheets. As an example the embedded images for chart panes do not produce ADA compliant web elements. The embedded images lack mark up language attributes which have been around since the 1990s. Google does not give owners a way to customize the size of the images or provide any consistent way to make the charts more readable. The actual summary of the survey is only available to readers after completing the form; The results cannot be shared directly. Another inconvenience is that the survey has to remain open for additional responses, if the author wishes to let people view the summary results. Once the survey is closed the results cannot be viewed.

The link to the spreadsheet which serves as a repository for the responses can be made public. My theoretical iTeach Survey spreadsheet is open. Those interested could download the data and save it in any one of many common spreadsheet formats, but none of the charts which are in the original spreadsheet get exported.

For the purposes of producing a web survey, however, Google Spreadsheets does do the job. One does not have to be familiar with databases or web scripting in order to create a survey. This tool would help serve those in education looking for rapid feedback from students, staff, conference attendees or community members.

When I wrote the survey instrument I was thoughtful of trying to keep the questions neutral while also attempting to solicit useful feedback. I was also aware that there are tradeoffs between presenting a question in Likhert style format which produce data that is easily charted and in presenting a question in a less restrictive format such as text which is not readily graphed. The questions which produced graphic results have charts which I embedded.

2 thoughts on “Google Docs Survey

  1. tatiana says:

    Yep, looks like we all had similar problems and issues. I really dislike looking at spreadsheets in Google Docs because of the scrolling issues and find myself jut printing them out — less frustrating but so not efficient…

  2. Allison says:

    I have to agree Dan, that it would be nice if we could just tweak the display of the original spreadsheet to make it more user-friendly. I found it very frustrating how much scrolling I had to do and then I’d lose track of which person’s results I was reading… it just seems it could easily be made better so why hasn’t it?
    Good, solid reflection. You made it clear what worked for you and what roadblocks you ran into – just as a reflection is intended.

    You’re close to the end…. almost done with the semester! 🙂

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