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Go Go Gadget … in Google July 16, 2011

Posted by IaninSheffield in Resources, Teaching Idea.
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Our curriculum team is currently planning a BTEC Level 3 Award in Leadership Principles. One of the first tasks the Y12 students who will be starting this course next year will undertake is a self-review in which they “Complete a personal skills audit evaluating their strengths and weaknesses as a leader and learner.” They will then expand this to a 360° review by soliciting the views of people with whom they have close contact: teachers, parents, friends, employers, club coaches etc. Comparing their own views of their strengths and weaknesses with those of others who know them well will form the starting point for designing a personal development plan.

My challenge then was to develop a mechanism which would allow the students to rate themselves against a set of twelve criteria (e.g. “The student has an understanding of the importance of moral values in successful leadership”), made as simple as possible using a Likert-style system. The next step will be for the students to select a set of respondents who can also rate them against the same criteria, preferably anonymously. To enable the data to be viewed and analysed quickly and efficiently, the output should ideally be graphical … possibly a bar chart?

My first thought was a survey tool; there are plenty about after all. Unfortunately many have limitations on the number of responses or number of questions you can ask, then there’s the issue of accounts being created, having to set up their surveys and whether the data could be viewed in a useful format. However ticking with the idea of a survey tool, I turned to Google Forms which seemed to offer all the features we needed, with the advantage that a single form could be set up with the spreadsheet that services it easily distributed to all the students for them to copy and use. The form is also then easily distributed to their chosen respondents as a simple web link. (You can see a working idea here)

The important bit

If you’ve used Google Forms before you’ll know that as each respondent completes the survey form, their data are fed into a row on a spreadsheet, which means that it is only a couple of clicks to display the results graphically. A quick and dirty view is swiftly obtained from the ‘Show summary of responses’ feature in the spreadsheet:

Summary of responses

google form responsesand whilst perhaps showing potential areas of strength and weakness, this doesn’t allow the student to make a comparison between their view and those of others. My feeling was that a radar chart ought to provide a more informative representation of the data … but the radar chart tool in Google spreadsheets doesn’t manipulate the data in the way we needed. But then whilst mooching around, I came across gadgets – tools to manipulate data which have been produced by individuals and submitted to the gadget gallery. What’s more I found a much better radar chart generator produced by Corinna Lo and had it up and running (thanks to Corinna’s helpful instructions) in no time.

[scroll to see the interactive check boxes to view different aspects of the data]

Now a student can look at their own response as a sort of footprint, superimpose those from others with a single or multiple clicks and even compare each with an average figure. Strong and weak areas are quickly identified, making the drawing up of a development plan so much easier. Later down the line, the review could be repeated and a comparison made with the original to showcase progress made.

Next steps

I’ve been thinking about whether to set up Google accounts for the students, but I’m not familiar with Google Edu accounts and what that all entails. I suspect a number of the students will already have GMail accounts, so distributing the sheet should be straightforward. It shouldn’t be too much of stretch to expect those who don’t have accounts already to set one up, so probably that’s the easiest way to go in the first instance.

There’s also the issue of showing their review to tutors, but that should be as easy as sending a link.

This is very much a work in progress so if you have any observations, can spot things I’ve missed or have any suggestions for improvements, I’d be delighted to hear them.

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