Surveys and Google Documents

I was recently introduced to Google Documents. I know I’m late to the party, but I’ve always been an avid user of jump/flash/thumb drives (sometimes I call it a junk drive, because that’s usually what I have on there). I’m pretty good about keeping track of them, but I also use Dropbox for backup, which is why it’s strange that I never took advantage of Google Docs after being a Gmail user for quite a while.

As wonderful and helpful as it is, I had a hard time adjusting to this tool. My first experience with it was a document of survey questions that my class was putting together. We were all invited to edit and add questions, and some of us had a specific section to work on. Since my part in the project is to digitize and collect the results from the survey, when we worked on the document in class, I took to overall formatting and checking for clarity and continuity.

I’m not sure if this is usually the case, but there were seven of us working on the document at one time. We could see who was working on each section, and we could chat with each other. The confusing part was when I wanted to rearrange some sections, and I had to make sure I wouldn’t interrupt the others’ work. It was also really hard to keep track of places where I had made changes because the others could go back and alter it again.

After we had gotten it situated, we had a class discussion, and on one particular question, after much debate, Erich and I rewrote a question together from separate ends of the room. It was really neat because I could see what he rewrote, and we chatted about it in the sidebar.

As it turns out, survey writing was also tougher than I thought it would be. We had prepared by reading about techniques, and I had also taken a methods class, but the nitty-gritty part is making sure you don’t include bias and making sure that the questions are clear and the answer choices are well-defined. My classmate Sarah was frustrated with the details of survey writing. Read her blog post and find out why.

Our survey should be published soon, and I’m excited to see what the results will look like. In the meantime, please check out my Twitter, as I update that more than the blog. And if you’d like to learn more about Google Docs, watch this great explanatory video I found (above). It’s fast-paced and simple, so go learn about new ways to simplify your life!


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