The Importance of a Workflow

Often I find myself working on something and I find that I am gathering information, providing information or simply manipulating data. For example, lets think about assigning a piece of work to students to complete at home, for example a Google Form which contains a quiz. We could simply assign the quiz by writing the URL on the board, and then asking students to complete this, we can then look through the results and mark it by hand. The issue here, however, is that this process is time consuming. How can we make this simpler?

The first step is to think about what you want to achieve. In the example above, I want to assess student work, and have a snap shot of how they are doing. So my final goal is to have some form of analysis. So the things that I need to do are:

  1. Create the form
  2. Share the URL
  3. Collect responses
  4. Analyse responses
  5. Return marks and/or comments

So using Google Apps for Education, I can turn this into a workflow:

  1. Create the form using Google Forms
  2. Share the URL using Remind allowing students to simply click and view the form
  3. Students complete the form, signing into their Google Apps account and the form automatically collects their username
  4. Using formLimiter (a forms add-on) I place an end date on the assignment, preventing the form from being completed after a certain time and date
  5. I complete the form with the correct answers (you can use %or to provide more than one answer in a text box)
  6. Using flubaroo (a sheets add-on) I can now mark all of the students answers in a couple of clicks
  7. I now return the marks to the students using flubaroo via e-mail

This is a fairly simple example, but we have cut down a large number of steps. We have allowed ourselves the opportunity to open up communication with our students.

Let’s think about something a little more complex. Using multiple forms we can actually create a workflow which uses the form responses from a form submission to pre-populate a new form. This sounds fairly complicated but is actually fairly simple. Jesse Spevack from New Visions for Public Schools has created a great video which shows you how to get started with this:

The idea is that you create a form and collect the submissions, you then create another form and use the ‘pre-filled URL’ feature to get a prefilled URL for the new form. We then take this pre-populated URL and we replace the values (the things which will appear in the form) with a cell reference to the thing that we want to appear in the form. Let’s think about this as a diagram:

Form exampleHere we can see a teacher submitting a behaviour report using a form, the responses are recorded in a spreadsheet, and by using a formula, we can then create a link to a follow up form which is created for an administrator to follow up with. We can use add-ons such as copyDown and formMule to make our lives easier and automate the formula and e-mail process.

So we can see, that by spending a little time planning, we can come up with a workflow which allows us to save time, effort and communicate more effectively.

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