Using Google Forms
We’re back again this week with a quick overview of how to get started with Google Forms. I was surprised to find that we hadn’t covered Google Forms before, so consider this post an introduction to some of its basic features. Because Google Forms does merit much more attention, expect that we’ll return to the tool in the future with deeper treatment of the different ways in which you can USE Google Forms, either as student, staff or faculty. Suffice to say, Forms is an excellent option for collecting and organizing information from large numbers of people. And, because it automatically stores the information in the Excel-like Google Sheets, the resulting data is immediately ready for treatment and study.
First, let’s look at how to create a Google form. Doing so is easy: Go to Google Drive, click “New” and then click “Google Forms.” There is something to consider when you create a form, however, and that has to do with the form’s architecture on Drive. A form is not one file, but two. It consists of both the form itself and the spreadsheet, automatically generated, on which respondent answers are collected. These will always generate in the same folder (if the form is created within a folder) and with names that identify themselves as being paired, so once you realize that a form consists of the two files then the concept makes sense, and is useful. For one thing, since the responses are collected in a spreadsheet by default, there is no need to export the data in order to begin to analyze/filter/organize it in earnest. However, the most important thing to consider about the two files created when you create a Google Form is this: the permissions for each is handled independently from the other. This means that you can give editing privileges to the form, say to collaborators in a study, but keep the response file entirely private. Or the other way around. This is incredibly useful for collaborative projects in which you must carefully control the authority of your collaborators. You may be part of a team that analyzes the data, for instance, but the team as a whole doesn’t need the power to edit the form by which the data is collected.
The backend of the form is also pretty simple to understand. You can navigate directly to the spreadsheet on which responses are being collected by clicking “View Responses” at the top, and you can navigate to the “Live Form” by clicking “View Live Form”. Below that are form settings on which you can set, for instance, the form to automatically collect the organizational usernames of the respondents when they submit. Or, unchecked, the forms can be kept anonymous.
Finally, the form fields. There are many different types of fields/questions you can create for your respondents, giving you quite a lot of options for how you need to collect different forms of info.
Give it a try, and tell us how you like it!