Before you read this post, try filling out one or both of these Google Forms to see how autoCrat works. Just submit the Form and then check your email.
For the past several years I have used and refined a system of using Google Forms and the autoCrat script to accomplish the following:
- Hold myself accountable for getting into classrooms.
- Eliminate the paperwork and tracking associated with traditional methods of classroom observation.
- Identify critical questions regarding instruction on our campus.
- Provide teachers with immediate feedback that informs and encourages dialogue in a manner that teachers embrace.
- Produce artifacts that evidence collaboration focused on mutual growth and refinement of instructional practices.
- Inspire others to adopt a similar approach thus improving instructional practices beyond my campus.
In Provide Teachers Feedback and Turn Data into Information I wrote about how the summary in Google Forms is useful to my work as an educational leader.
However, the purpose of this post is to outline the mechanics of how you can setup Google Forms and autoCrat into something that works for you. Please note: It took me months of trial and error to get this right, but with this guide you should be able to figure it out with little to no trouble. Also, I encourage you to adopt an innovators mindset that says this tool can do this type of function for me and then tailor the setup to fit your needs. Try to avoid falling into the trap that you need to use Google Forms and autoCrat the exact way I do. By learning the mechanics of how to use the tool, you can adapt the setup to help you solve a multitude of issues that you might be facing.
There are five steps to using Google Forms and autoCrat.
- The Main Folder
- The Form
- The Template
- The Generated Response Folder
- Installing autoCrat
The Main Folder
Whether you are new or old to using Google Drive, you probably have experience organizing and categorizing paperwork or other things in your life. If you do not use folders in Google Drive to organize projects, you will soon have a Drive that is full of unrelated files. An analogy that comes to mind is a single box that contains a year’s worth of paperwork. You will have everything in one place, but might have difficulty finding the single item you are looking for if you do not setup folders for various projects.
So the first step is to simply create a new Folder that will contain everything related to this specific project. For the purposes of this project I will title my Folder “Mechanics of GForms and autoCrat”.
Next, create a Form that you collect information on. Whenever I make a Form I almost always sketch a rough draft on paper and then create the Form in Google Drive. When you create the Form, make sure that you make it inside of the Main Folder that you created for the project. If you forget to do this, you can always move it to the Main Folder after it is created.
If you have created a Form in Drive before, the system will probable generate a Spreadsheet as a destination that will hold the responses from the Form so that you can view them. For this project I will call my Form “GForms and autoCrat” and Drive will create a Spreadsheet in the Main Folder that is titled “GForms and autocrat (Responses)”.
One consideration when making a Form is the question type. If you use text or paragraph question types, the summary analytics cannot be used. There for I recommend that these types of responses on a Form are limited as often as possible.
You can see samples of Walkthrough Forms here.
The Template is the scaffold for the PDF or Google Doc you will create and share to provide the intended feedback. The Template should be created inside of the Main Folder. It is important to note that you do not have to share everything collected on the Form, and only information that has a Merge Tag on the Template will be shared.
To create a MergeTag, you follow the format of a word or phrase with no spaces, no numbers, or no special characters enclosed by a double inequality symbol. Here is an example of a Merge Tag <<anywordyouwantinsidehere>>. As you can see from this example, your Merge Tag must be letters and can be any combination of words as long as there are no spaces. The Tag should be descriptive enough that you know which column in the Spreadsheet it corresponds to. The Template can have graphics, colored font, and any other formatting features you wish to add.
You can see samples of Templates here.
The Generated Response Folder
This is a folder inside of the Main Folder that will store generated responses. It is a folder inside of a folder.