When reading the Google Docs Blog I learned of a new useful feature. The Spreadsheet Sharing tab now includes to fill out a form. Basically, a form is generated based on the column headings in your spreadsheet. You are given a url for the form that you can email to participants, or use to create a link to the form on your web page. When a participant completes the form, the data is dumped into your spreadsheet/form. The participants don’t need a Google account, or even an email address.
The form has some good customization features like adding help text, editing questions, and choosing question types: paragraph text, multiple choice, check boxes, or choose from a list. You can also write your own confirmation message that your participants will see upon submitting their data. You have the choice of including the form in an email, which might not work for all email platforms. If it doesn’t, the reader can copy and paste the provided link to access the form through his/her browser. While participants don’t have access to edit the spreadsheet, they can view previously submitted data, if you enable that feature.
Since I already use Google Docs, the idea of consolidating my documents into one web location is appealing. Currently I use Survey Monkey to gather feedback from my workshop participants. The spreadsheet graph button would be more efficient when summarizing the data from these evaluations. I use Jotform to collect workshop registrations. Now with Google docs, I can subscribe to the spreadsheet and be notified in my Pageflake of new registrations. Some teachers are using Jotform for students to submit their passwords for various sites to their teacher for future reference. Since these teachers are already using Google docs, I think they will want to start using this new form feature.
Here’s a screencast to lead you through the process of creating, managing, and subscribing to your spreadsheet. Since it is a longer than usual tutorial (8 minutes), you will find a Table of Contents. Don’t let that the length of the tutorial scare you. The process is easy.