Professor Jones finished his presentation and asked for a show of hands indicating who understood the content just shared. Nearly every hand went up. To be thorough, he directed his learners to the quick response survey he had made and shared in Google Forms. As anonymous answers appeared on his screen, he realized that he had fallen for a common teaching challenge: students will not admit when they are confused. Thankfully, “good formative assessment removes the embarrassment of public hand raising and gives teachers the feedback that impacts how they’re teaching at the moment” (Davis, 2015). Using online survey tools serves this need well (Taylor & Doehler, 2014). The inaccuracy of assuming student understanding can be eliminated with the affordances of the formative assessment tools included in Google Forms, the free online resource available to those with Google accounts.
Assessment options on the Internet meet the goals of teachers to survey, quiz, and gather information. Teachers need need a toolkit to meet all the needs of a typical classroom (Davis, 2015). The cloud-based assessment tool Google Forms tool, while not professing to be “an all singing, all dancing assessment engine” (Bell, 2018), is still “an extremely valuable [tool] to help educators simplify and streamline class assessment” (Bell, 2018).
Popular uses for Google Forms include quick feedback from both peers and instructors, live quiz games, collaborative projects, presentations, screen casting, discussion guidance, data collection and analysis, reflection, lesson planning, ePortfolios, flipped classrooms, information collection from students/parents/staff, documentation of events such as discipline plans and professional development goals, and the initiation of students as leaders in the learning process (Bell, 2018; Davis, 2015; Moe, 2013; Mallette & Barone, 2013; Taylor & Doehler, 2014). Results can be viewed, collected, linked and shared easily through Google Forms, allowing students and educators to track immediate progress and trends through the semesters. Customizable and always saved within Google Drive, the Forms available are convenient to learn, and will work on any device (TradeRadius, 2018; Bell, 2018).
Not only are Google Forms affordable and versatile, the simple yet tremendous assessment options afforded by the tools meet every ISTE standard on the list:
Learner — As educators utilize the tools in Google Forms, they leverage technology to improve student learning when they purposefully track student understanding and then restructure the course to ensure success for all.
Leader — Students are empowered when educators use Google Forms to facilitate collaboration, reflection, presentation and leadership skills in courses.
Citizen/Collaborator — Because of the global, versatile nature of Google Forms, students can participate in course activities that reach across the cohort and also encircle the globe.
Designer/Facilitator/Analyst — Students can participate in learning community conversations by using Google forms to create authentic surveys, collect data and analyze results.
Educators have many reasons to feel confident in their choice to use Google Forms in their classrooms. TPACK-based frameworks such as Triple E (Kolb, 2015) and SAMR (SAMR, 2013) easily support the affordances of the tool. Students can fully engaged in course discussions and giving feedback, for example, through the use of various options within Google Forms. The substitution of paper for digital analysis makes learning quicker and instruction more thorough (Davis, 2015). Discussions augmented and enhanced by Google Forms options yield new ways for students to demonstrate their learning. And students are extending and redefining their learning as they participate in reflection, application of concepts, synthesis and evaluation of data collected and feedback received.
There are many applications for Google Forms (surveys and analyses, feedback, discussions, quizzes, sign-up sheets, and practice exams) and users appreciate a host of its affordances (convenience, versatility, communication, customizable, analytical functions, and integration with other Google tools), yet there are still areas for tool advancement (TradeRadius, 2018; Karlin, 2016). While touted as being simple to learn and use, that same simplicity limits its usability somewhat. Improvements could include making available more complex form creations by allowing for the sectioning of questions, of more easily adding answers keys, adding add-ons, closing a survey time, and changing notification settings. Schools need HIPAA- and FERPA-safe products (which Google Forms are not), and businesses want to be able to customize the forms to carry their own look (which cannot fully be accomplished in Google Forms, according to a review in TradeRadius (2018). Google products together imitate LMS functionality, yet even here, more sophisticated development is needed. Notably, the bulk of these changes are for the benefit of instructors and not students, yet these upgrades would perhaps motivate even more personal users, schools and businesses to utilize Google Forms even more fully.
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