Week 7: Collaboration Tools

One of the absolute greatest facets of the web world is the ability to collaborate with others, wherever they may be. The amount of collaboration that is possible in the Web 2.0 world is simply astounding. No longer do people have to be in the same place at the same time, travel long distances for face to face meetings, or send documents back and forth by snail mail. Whether you are time zones apart, or right next door, you can collaborate on and share documents, programs, websites, videos, audio, or whatever else, in real-time or on your own time.

Two of the most useful collaboration tools today are GoogleDocs and Dropbox. We will be working with these two great “things” for the duration of Week 7.

Google Docs

GoogleDocs is a free tool that allows users to share and collaborate on documents (text docs, spreadsheets and more) and keep everything stored online for easy access by all parties involved. Users working on a shared document in GoogleDocs can make simultaneous edits (which can be tracked according to which user made the edits) or can add to documents when it is convenient for them. GoogleDocs is a great tool for educators to help students collaborate on projects and peer-edit work, or for teachers and school librarians to collaborate amongst themselves for a variety of issues or projects.

Get Acquainted with Google Docs:

Dropbox

Dropbox is another important collaboration tool, and is also useful on a personal level as a sort of online storage drive where you can store files in order to be able to access them when you are away from your computer. By signing up for Dropbox, you are given 2 GB of online storage space where you can upload files of all types and access them from wherever you have internet access. You can also share items in your dropbox by creating links that you can send to others so that they can access the files stored in your Dropbox. Dropbox is free for up to 2GB of storage, so if you use it more as a temporary flash drive, or just need to transfer files to another individual for a short period of time, you should have plenty of space to work with. If you really love Dropbox, however, you can always upgrade and purchase more space too!

Get Started with Dropbox:

  • Go to Dropbox.com and in the right hand corner click the login dropdown on the upper right hand sign to create an account.
  • After creating an account, return to the homepage and download the Dropbox program onto your computer (this program will help you to sync files to your dropbox account).
  • Take the Tour to get acquainted with Dropbox’s features
  • Create a couple of Directory in your account to help sort the files you will be uploading (e.g. Documents, Photos, and Music)
  • Upload a couple of files to the various directories you created (try uploading different file types)
  • Create a link to share one of your files with a friend, colleague, or other participant here and send it to them
  • If you have an iPhone or Android, download the Dropbox app to be able to access your files from your phone, or upload files from your phone

Blog Post for Week 7:

Reflect on your experiences playing with both GoogleDocs and Dropbox. Some things you may consider discussing:

Did you have any difficulties in using the tools, or did you feel they were user-friendly? How can you see yourself using GoogleDocs or Dropbox in your professional life? In your personal life? Which tool did you like better? Did you use either of these prior to being a part of this program?

Week 8: Survey Tools

Online surveys can be used to schedule meetings, solicit feedback, automate signups, keep reading logs, administer and grade tests, and perhaps for some purposes only you can dream up.

This week we’ll be exploring three tools for creating, administering, and reporting the results of online surveys: Doodle, Survey Monkey, and Google Forms.

Try whatever interests you below, look at the examples, and remember to blog about how these tools work for you. (Hint: You may want to invite other course participants to be guinea pigs for any surveys you create this week.)

Doodle

 

 

Doodle has one very specific purpose: to poll multiple people about meeting times.

How can I use it?

Doodle has a quick learning curve; you can design a poll listing possible meeting times, and send invitations to all invitees, in less than 5 minutes. Really.

Some options in setting up your poll:

  • Check a box to show times in respondents’ own time zones
  • List start times only, or both start and end times
  • Response choices can be either yes / no, or yes / yes (if need be) / no

Get started with Doodle:

  • Follow step-by-step instructions on the Doodle website to schedule an event, with or without registering for an account.
  • Send an invitation to several people to respond your poll.
  • Use the notification features to follow up on whether they’ve responded, to remind them if necessary, and to let them know which meeting time works for the most people.

If you want to explore more free features, try these as well:

  • Watch this video (<2 minutes) about using Doodle’s Calendar Connect
  • Sign up for a free MyDoodle acount
  • Sign up for Calendar Connect to sync Doodle to your calendar (works with Google Calendar, Exchange, iCal and Outlook)
  • Set up a MeetMe page to let others see when you’re available for meetings
  • Sign up for Doodle mobile, to access Doodle from a cell phone

SurveyMonkey

 

SurveyMonkey was the most popular tool for online surveys from about 2007-2010, and has since been displaced by Google Forms, which offers fewer types of questions but more other features than the free version of SurveyMonkey.

How can I use it?

The SurveyMonkey website offers good resources about questionnaire design which can inform your use of any survey tool.

Given the number of examples of Google Forms being used in school libraries, I suspect that will be a better fit for most of your needs. But I recommend exploring both.

Some SurveyMonkey features:

  • More types of questions and charts than Google Forms
  • Wide range of templates (some not available to free users) with questions designed and tested by survey experts
  • Free version only allows 10 questions and 100 responses per survey, and results can only be exported as PDFs

Some examples you might find interesting:

Get started with SurveyMonkey:

  • Create an account, and/or sign in at SurveyMonkey
  • On the home page, click on the three dots in the main panel to read “How It Works”, “5 Tips for Designing a Great Survey”, and “5 Ways to Get More Responses”
  • Look at the tour of SurveyMonkey’s features
  • Look at how questions and response choices are worded in these templates for education surveys
  • Adapt a template for your own use, or go to the home page and click on “create a survey” to start one from scratch.
  • From inside your survey, tap on the “collect responses” tab to invite colleagues or friends to fill out your survey.
  • When you have some responses, tap on the “analyze results” tab from inside your survey, and explore the options in the left sidebar for displaying your findings.

If you want to explore more features, take a look at Survey Monkey’s tutorials and documentation.

Want to brush up on survey design in general, whether or not you’re using SurveyMonkey? Take a look at SurveyMonkey’s Best Practices for Survey Design (36-page pdf) for a good overview of question types, wording and layout, response rates, and pros and cons of online surveys.

Google Forms

 

 

Like SurveyMonkey, Google Forms can be used to design online surveys. It is free, as part of the Google Docs suite, so you need to sign up there to use it. Google Forms can be accessed from desktop and laptop computers, but not from mobile devices.

How can I use it?

After respondents fill out your survey, Google Forms will generate a simple summary of the responses, showing a tally of closed-ended responses, and text strings of open responses. Each survey you design is directly linked to a spreadsheet of the results, which can be exported as Excel, CSV, or several other formats.

Here are some examples of Google forms being used in education and in libraries:

After looking at these examples, jot down or blog your ideas about ways to use Google Forms at your library or school.

Get started with Google Forms:

Here are some tutorials. (If you need a refresher on writing good questions, see the resources listed under SurveyMonkey above.)

Try designing a survey:

  • If you’re not already signed up for Google docs, you will need to register. Forms can be created in the desktop version of Google docs, but not the mobile version.
  • Follow one of the tutorials to create a survey. Experiment with different question types to see what is possible.
  • Click on the “Email this form” button near the upper right to send your survey to a few friends or colleagues.
  • After they respond, click on the “See responses” button near the upper right. Choose “Summary” to see an automatically generated tally. If you want to edit or export any responses, choose “Spreadsheet” and use the menus there.
  • If you are used to preparing charts or tables in Excel or another program, try exporting from your spreadsheet, and manipulating your data there.

Thanks for expanding your toolkit with these Web 2.0 survey tools! Remember to share your ideas and experiences with the rest of us in your blogs, about how these tools work for you and how you might use them in your work.

Intro to the Program

The home page is currently filled by posts…most recent showing first. We can either make the home page a static page with general info about the program, or keep it as posts and use this area to give program updates as everything progresses. If the latter, then we can make a static page in the main navigation that gives greater detail about what this is all about.