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Why I Should Never Write an Online Quiz at 5 AM Again…

Typos… the bane of my existence. Why is it that no matter how many times I check over something, I never see the typos until I’m in the middle of class and a sophomore points out that I put two decimal points in one number and left out the letter i in every other word on the paper? I blame lack of coffee at five am when I decided to get out of bed and write a quiz because I couldn’t sleep any longer.

Yesterday morning, not withstanding, I woke up as Mr. Teacher left for work at five in the morning with a burning desire to write a quiz before I had any coffee and to do it on Google Forms. So, if you didn’t know Google Forms is a free service from Google for making forms that are able to be filled out online. Google will tally the results and present them to you in several different forms including charts, graphs and spreadsheets.

There is an option to create a quiz that the application is able to autograde for you, with choices from multiple choice, checklist, dropdown menu, short and long text replies, file upload, linear scale and a multiple choice grid. I’ve used the program to create polls before for voting in various clubs and organizations I’ve been involved with around school. But I ran through some tutorials last week about how to use it to create quizzes. You can create a very traditional quiz, and provide an answer key for Forms to auto-grade students responses on the multiple choice, dropdown and checkbox questions.

So here’s why I shouldn’t have written this quiz at five AM. I marched into school, super confident that my Physics students were going to have a blast taking an online quiz with almost automatic feedback about their responses. I sent the link out to them in their Google Classroom account and sat back to wait for the magic. And then the first person turns in their work… And no magic. Because I’d screwed up the answer key. She got the first question right, and I’d marked the wrong answer in my sleep deprived haze. The gorgeous thing about it was, all I had to do was go into the application on my laptop, edit the key, and it automatically updated her grade in the results.

The next kid turns in their work. I’d thought I was clever, and used checkboxes to give questions that had more than one correct answer, assigning one point for each correct answer. It wouldn’t give him credit because he’d checked only 2 of the 3 correct answers. I went into the individual results view, looked at his response, and noticed that I had the option to go in and give him partial credit. Now, this idea kind of ruined my autograde mojo, but it relieved me that I was going to be able to give him 2/3 possible points for the question. It also meant that I was going to have to go through the rest of the student responses as they came in and give out partial credit for partially correct replies. However, it was a fairly quick process. Even if I hadn’t used autograde, assigning point values for quiz questions was as simple as clicking a box up or down to change the points earned for each question.

Now came the trouble of letting kids know what their updated grade was. I started clicking around, trial and error style as my science brain is known to do. And during my experiment, I found the option to “Release Grades” to the students in the class. The app informed me that it was going to email grades to the email they’d logged into the form with. Lucky me. I clicked off and let everyone who’d turned in the quiz so far have their updated grade and listened to the little dings of notifications from the students who’d forgotten to turn off the sound on their devices as they received a wave of automated emails.

I’d also included a blank multiple choice question with only one possible answer choice. So this was the point at which I was no longer evaluating the app, but considering investing in a coffee maker for my home office instead. However, I thought I would update everyone with how things went.

Pros:

  • Google Forms is super simple to use. Easy as typing the question and a list of answers for multiple choice questions and clicking a single box to assign points and assign correct answers for auto-grading.
  • It automatically links up to Google Classroom and Google Drive for sharing with students if your school or you use the Google Apps for Education Suite.
  • Even if you don’t use Google Apps for education, the Google Drive account needed to use the app is FREE to sign up for. And anyone with a Google account can access Google Forms.
  • Google Forms are shareable via a link, so no matter what app you use to share information with your students (Edmodo, Google Classroom, Moodle, Blackboard, email, etc.) it’s simple to share a link to the quiz.
  • You can turn off the quiz and allow it to refuse accepting responses or even displaying the questions at your own discretion.
  • Results are saved in a variety of forms, including a spreadsheet that makes it easy to post grades.
  • If you use Google Apps for Education, you can limit students to one response each and record their login information as they respond.
  • Lots of formatting options to give your quizzes or polls whatever sort of look you want.

Cons:

  • Autograde only works for specific question types.
  • If your question has more than one correct response or requires you to be able to assign partial credit for answers, autograde isn’t going to work for you. However, you have the ability to allow students to see their grade immediately OR to wait until you release grades for them to see.
  • This whole suite of apps works best if you and your students use Google Apps for Education or all have GMail accounts. It’s a little more difficult to collaborate and share things back and forth without it, but it is workable.
  • This app is good for questions where students aren’t going to be required to show their work, unless you force them to work things out on paper, take a photo of it, and submit their work via the form as a .jpg file, which sort of seems like more work and defeats the whole purpose of a paperless classroom. So, it may lend itself more to some subjects than others.

Feel free to let me know what you think of Google Forms down below or if you have any questions. I’ll be running through a tutorial sooner or later on how to create a quiz in the app for those of you who are curious and want to try it for yourselves.

Keep working smart,

J.

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