Google Docs Surveys Make Life Easier

The Google Docs utility called Form creates a survey that gathers data into a spreadsheet.  Such a simple thing, but it can be very powerful, as four administrative units of Keene State have found.

Watch these short videos to hear their stories.

Keene State Music department uses the Google Docs form to collect all the information they need to schedule student auditions, saving much time and effort.

Community Service Coordinator Mary McEntee used the form to collect student volunteer hours. It was easier for students since the form was on the web and quicker to get the data… no more data entry of paper forms.

Steve Bigaj, Coordinator of Professional Studies and Continuing Education needed to do a quick survey of seniors who were “walking” at graduation but had not yet finished their coursework. His survey open for only 24 hours got more than 100 responses and some valuable information about how the college can better serve students.

The Service Learning coordinator, Jennifer Drake-Deese created a form to efficiently gather evaluations from students and professors of service learning placements. The survey was posted in each class’s Blackboard course.

Have an idea how you could use Google Docs forms? Contact us at CELT or

QR Codes and You

By Matthew Ragan

What’s a QR Code?

Quick Reference or QR codes are a two dimensional matrix code that performs a function similar to a bar code. That is to say that it’s a form of encoded information not easily read by people, but easily decoded by computers. QR codes can often been seen on UPS or FedEx packages, and are often used in commercial capacities when a bar code is insufficient. Beyond industrial or commercial application, QR codes are interesting as they have reached into the consumer market in Japan. By using a camera built into a cell phone users can take a photo of the QR code and find themselves quickly redirected to a company’s website, to a restaurant’s menu, or to an encoded message or number. The practice of posting an image that links out to a web resource is referred to as “hard linking” and has numerous applications.

So What’s the Big Deal?

Like any technology, QR codes aren’t exciting unless you consider them in relation to a project or practice. Let me offer a few ideas about how you might use QR codes in your class room, or your work to provide a frame for how this (free) technology might be useful.

Business Cards

The information on a business card is tremendously helpful – it’s how to get a hold of someone, and what they do all rolled into one. A QR code can hold all of the same information. While it’s not practical to use a QR code by itself on a business card, it makes tremendous sense to use one on the back. Instead including a long link to your website/blog/social-network-profile, you can instead just include a simple code that can be read by a web cam or smart phone. If you’re not interested in including a link to a web resource, you could still use a QR code to hide a message.

Notes / Handouts

Connecting the physical world, to the digital world can feel like a daunting project. If your class is using a digital resource that involves a long link (like this one: that would be pointless to include on a handout – I say that it would be pointless to include on a handout because it is highly unlikely that a student would go to the trouble to type in an address both that long and complicated, it’s also highly likely that the link will be copied into the address bar incorrectly. Instead you could inclue a QR code in a corner of the handout, allowing your students to simply scan the code with their laptop or phone to access the resource.

Maybe more than just pointing students to a resource, you want to point them to some class created content – like a blog, youtube channel, twitter feed, facebook group, or really anything else that you might find on the web.

Anything Printed

Again, the real beauty of QR codes is their flexibility. They can serve as labels, as clues for a scavenger hunt, for hidden information, as links to digital resources. Consider how you might connecte a printed resource to a digital one.

How to Get Started

Experiment with creating codes by visiting Kaywa or by experimenting with iCandy. Both of this sites will help you create codes, and consider what you can do with them.


By Matthew Ragan


Workflow seems to be absent from nearly every conversation about group projects I’ve ever been a part of. Helping students understand how they should work in a group is important, and here’s a template for instructors planning on using Video creation as a group project.

Make a Plan Stan

Envision what you’d like your end project to be like: What do you want to say? What mood to you want it to set What’s the most important part of your message? What imagery is going to be the most moving? Thinking about the big-picture part of your project may seem a little touchy-feely, but it’s going to shape what you record, and the final product that you produce. You might consider making a mind map, or stroyboarding your group’s ideas. You might start this process by having everyone in the group brainstorm the outcomes for the project individually, and then share all of your ideas at a preliminary meeting.

Make a Schedule

Group projects are often rough because, lets face it, everyone is busy! That makes a lot of sense, and shouldn’t be surprising. Because of that very fact, make a schedule early on. As important as it will be to schedule time to record content and edit footage, it will also be equally important to have project meetings that allow you to check-in on progress and the creative process.

Assign Roles

Not everyone is going to be great in front of the camera, and not everyone is going to be interested in editing the video. Discuss your strengths and weaknesses (be honest yo!), and break up the work. As you do this, be aware that your individual responsibilities might change. In this whole process it’s going to be important to communicate with one another and to be flexible (not like yoga flexible, but like not being-a-jerk-if-you-have-to-do-extra-work flexible).

Collect Content

You might be using still photos, or recording video, or recording voice overs, or about a million other things. It’s going to be important to collect more than you plan to use. What ends up not in the video, in some respects, is as important as what you do use. The process is going to inform your work as much as your final product displays it. What on earth does that mean?! It means that the revision and research portion of any assignment (thinking writing a paper) is always larger than what you produce. You need to have a large pool to draw from as you start the creative process. It’s like baking cookies – the recipe might only call for two cups of flower, but you might need more (what if you need to double the recipe? What if the dough is too sticky?). It’s also going to be helpful to have collected a much video/pictures/media as possible before you start the editing process. There’s nothing worse than starting a paper only to discover that you need to do more research.

Have an Editing Party

Editing can be a long process, and is often one that’s overlooked. Putting your video together is not as simple as just lining the clips up in the right order. There’s a lot of work that goes into it. Your group might find that the editor wants to do a rough cut by themselves first, and that’s a great place to start. It will also be important, however, to have the whole group watch critique, and offer feedback on the final project. I suggest having a “party” (not a rage-er) in the sense that it’s going to be a long process – plan time to meet, talk, have food, and be available to work together. Don’t plan to sit around and watch someone else work for 3 hours, it’ll just make you grouchy and the person doing the editing feel miserable. Bring a book, bring your laptop, make cookies, whatever,but be available to help solve problems and contribute.

Prep Your Video

Check the YouTube Handbook to find out how you should export your video. The file format you use will make a difference in terms of quality, and ease of uploading. Save your project frequently, and then make sure you export it as the correct file format (YouTube has a variety of file formats that work well).


Create a YouTube account, upload your video, share it with your friends, embed it on the website, put it on Facebook, just show it off – you’ve worked hard.


Take time at the end of the process to celebrate being done. Get coffee, have lunch together, do something. It’s important to recognize each others contributions, and to decompress after a stressful project. This is also a great time for reflection and personal assessment about what worked, what didn’t work, and how you might work better/more efficiently in the future on a similar project. It sounds corny, but you’ll feel better about the work you’ve done if you take time to honor the the work of yourself, others, and reflect on the final product.