Friday, November 22, 2013

Streamline the Paperwork to Save the Sanity of the Case Manager

My department chair asked a while ago for info on data collection using google forms.  I presume she has gotten pretty far in the process and that the data has started pouring in since the question today was how to display the results.  I have put up some screen shots below of how and where to click to get the automatic version of data summary that google provides for free.  Anything much beyond that will require a little more spreadsheet wizardry.  I'm getting out my robe and wizard hat now.

First, I'll show you how to create a form and then it will make more sense how to get information out of the response spreadsheet.

First, in your Drive account, click on "Create" and then "Form":
Simple enough.  Google will ask you to title the form and then you can create some questions.  There are some awesome tutorial videos on how best to use each type of google form question. +Melissa Hero has some good ideas if none spring to mind. (But then, if you had no ideas for how to apply these tools, you wouldn't be looking around for tutorials.)

Next, put in your questions.  You can also add in data validation, and many other neat tricks, no computer programming class required.

You can make questions that work from check boxes or drop down menus or radio buttons or large text boxes and many other types (e.g. date and/or time; although, the date and time questions display all funky when you pull them out of spreadsheets since it's stored as a time code of some sort so computers will read all the way down to the millisecond).

Google will automatically create a spreadsheet to collect all the responses.  Each column header is named for a question you created.  The far left column will always be a timestamp when the "submit" button was clicked.  This is useful as a paper trail.  I also learned a little trick to add a unique ID down one column.
The formula is this:

I use the B column since Google steals the A column for the timestamp and the left hand column is the normal spot for a Key ID in (for example) a database.  With the arrayformula down the whole column, I can later look up any row of response data I want.  It's very neat.

Back to the summary of data!
You can get to the summary from the responses spreadsheet by clicking on Form menu and then Show Summary of Responses.

Alternatively, you can get to the summaries from the form itself (in edit mode, not the live form that users see) by clicking on Responses, then Summary of responses.

I put in some fake sample data:

Here is what the responses look like for my fake data:
That was cool.  I hope that helped and was actually what I was asked for.

Now for some real wizardry.  We have the technology, we can rebuild him, stronger, faster than before!
Using two google forms (one for Special Ed case managers and one for Gen Ed teachers to post feedback), we can replace the current paper system of giving and receiving IEP feedback.  That's not accurate, all mine are electronic right now.  I'm just using MS Office docs with forms to fill out which is only cumbersome when new versions of the software comes out and half the staff can not upgrade (public school budgets, etc.).

With a different revision of the current feedback system, I would insert a link into my MS Outlook calendar invites that go out to Gen Ed teachers. Here is the link to the sample email headed to Gen Ed teachers to invite them to the meeting.  Please make comments on it. Remember, this email is automatically generated and filled with the correct meeting info etc., so I don't have to write 26 individual invites for my individual students times 6 teachers each.  Microsoft allows you to do the same thing.  There are a number of advantages to google so the department could debate which they'd like to use.  I'm honestly ok with either as long as the whole department is doing the same thing.  I love uniformity, I think it makes us look professional to parents and teachers and I think the Gen Ed staff appreciates when we have our systems in place smoothly.  (Our current system is really good at VHS, I want to shed as much paper as possible and the little timestamp feature when Gen Ed teachers click submit is a nice perk!)

After teachers get that email, they click the link to the feedback form that would create the final pdf attached to the IEP in the computer.  Here's a sample feedback form.

There are many other uses for this type of functionality in a school system.