Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Using The Technology We Preach

Habits die hard. I printed out some end of year surveys for my students to fill out about me (as teacher) and the courses they were finishing last week. Because, you know, that is the way we've always done it. How often do we keep doing things the same way year after year?

And then it hit me. What a waste of time and paper. 

So I created a survey with SkyDrive and placed a link to it as an assignment on the class page. I had the students hit that link and quickly answer the short set of questions.

This made tabulating the results fast and easy. So much better than sifting through pieces of paper to get the same data. Plus I think I got more comments in the free response questions than I would have otherwise. To say nothing of how legible the comments were.

We have the technology so why don’t we use it more? Habit I guess. But as I look forward I think I need to embrace the technology and model its use for my students.

BTW the following is a screen capture of the survey editing features in SkyDrive. Yes I know Google Docs has something like this but I use SkyDrive as my main cloud storage. And having worked nine years for Microsoft Google is never my first choice.

survey capture

6 comments:

dougpete said...

It only makes sense that the computer science teacher uses some form of technology. I'm a big fan of the electronic survey.

1) I find a bigger success rate in completion
2) The open ended questions tend to have better and more complete answers
3) Certainly the "pick an option" questions are easier to answer and make a change if needed
4) The results are easier analyzed when you can plop them into your favourite spreadsheet and look at results - plus pie or other charts are easily created
5) The results are easily shared with your principal and the results actually nicely shared with the participants of the survey - they like to know how they compare to the total. (I remove the open ended comments as they can identify one respondent directly)

Plus - maybe you can make the type of change in your school that's needed. It would be difficult, methinks, to find someone who would argue that paper is better based upon all the good things that can be done electronically.

I'm a long time Google user but have used the Microsoft product and they both attack this problem nicely. (Remember, I even did your interview in a shared Word document.)

With so many options made available, I would suspect that it's difficult to argue against your approach, regardless of the tool.

Garth said...

As much as I try I am still not a fan of digital textbooks. Paper is easier to read, more portable, easier to highlight and make margin notes and easier to thumb through. Our middle school was thinking of going digital for all textbooks on an iPad. My point was drop the iPad and there is a good chance all the textbooks are gone. Drop a textbook, just pick it up.

Mike Zamansky said...

Following up on what Garth said -- I think it's "Using The Technology that Makes Sense."

Online surveys make a lot of sense in a lot of ways, but if they're anonymous, you can't use a Google form (don't know about the microsoft stuff).

If you want that, you either need to do it via paper - have the kids drop the evals in a box, for instance, or you have to roll your own system (as I have done in the past).

I love it when I can show the kids how I use some interesting tech, particularly something like some BASH or Emacs kung fu but it's also important to know when the old school tools are superior.

Alfred Thompson said...

Using the Skydrive survey did not require the students to sign in. I'm not sure there is a way (easy or hard) to track down who answered. I wasn't about to look for it either as I wanted the replies to be anonymous.

Garth, I'm with on etextbooks. I love my Kindle for reading fiction but they do not lend themselves to the way I use textbooks..

Anonymous said...

I agree that survey responses should be anonymous. However, asking your class of 30 to drop their pen and pencil surveys in a box does not make then anonymous. After a semester (or year) of grading their work, you should easily be able to identify their handwriting. I'm sure if you put your creative caps on, you'll be able to find a way to make the online surveys as close to anonymous as the pen and pencil surveys.

Mike Zamansky said...

Sorry - to clarify - I wanted anonymous replies but I wanted to be sure every student filled out an evaluation.

The best I came up with was a homebrew setup - kids log in and do the survey but then their usernname is stored separately from their answers - at the end I'd get two lists - one list with the kids names (sorted) and a separate list with all the answers to question 1 (in some order) all the answers to question 2 (in some order) etc.

The kids could always look at the source to verify things.