Review: SurveyGizmo

You’ve worked up your nerve and now you’re ready to give your iPhone equipped students a reading quiz–what tools are you going to use? Let me save you some time (since I wasted quite a bit of mine learning this) and tell you that most of the survey tools out there are not going to work very well, at least not in their present form.  So what does work?

After our previous problems with formatting and user interface, I went on a quest for quiz solutions. The ones I located fall into several categories. First are casual quiz sites, like the ones you might use to poll your friends about which of the Jonas Brothers is hottest. These sites are free, but offer nothing in the way of detailed response tracking or security features like randomizing question order.

There are also ‘solutions’ out there which are designed for enterprise use; in most cases the price is prohibitive for someone who is only asking 70 people to complete a 10 item survey four times per month, since these are set up for corporate users who expect to collect thousands of responses per week (or per day).

Third are the “forms” sites, one of which we’ll be reviewing later. Form sites download a (you guessed it) ‘form’ to your device, ask you to fill in the blanks, then upload the results.

Fourth are the more affordable survey/quiz sites. Most of these let you customize the look and feel of your quiz to the nth degree, but in several cases I found it impossible to create a quiz that actually looked right and played smoothly on the iPhone screen. I finally settled on a free trial of SurveyGizmo.

Surveygizmo is a nice “Three Bears Solution”, i.e. it’s not too hot and not too cold, but just right. It’s affordable (14 days free, under $100 per semester for the personal account). I found the interface relatively easy to learn and customize, and it gives me the detailed output I need.  Now let’s get down to brass tacks: how did it work in the classroom?

In short, it worked perfectly. At the beginning of class I emailed my students a link to the quiz; they hit the link, entered their names and a passcode I supplied, and we were off. No latency issues, no crashes, smooth sailing. When we finished, I had a nice spreadsheet with each user’s log-in times, name, answers, and score; my grader simply copied the grade column out and pasted it into the online gradebook we use.

In the shots below you can get a rough idea of what our interface looks like: I started with one of their templates and modded it repeatedly until I got something that fit the iPhone screen perfectly. Here is what my students saw when they logged in to take their quiz:

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Opening screen. Notice that I chose the landscape (sideways) mode; I found that this works far better when the answers are longer than one or two words. Also I inserted our school’s logo; you can easily substitute yours. Finally, I supply the Key Code once all the students have reached this screen–this allows me to start them all simultaneously. If the student enters the wrong Key Code, she finds herself right back at this page.

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Taking the quiz. Each page contains multiple items, as well as ‘forward’ and ‘back’ buttons. At each page students can advance, retreat, or change answers as often as they want, right up until they submit their final results.

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Oops Warning. This is a nice feature: if a student tries to advance without answering all the questions, he gets a bright yellow reminder. Helps avoid those missed items and the inevitable “I didn’t see that question.”

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.Final Answer? Only when the student is fully satisfied does he submit his ans wers. Up to this point, all answers are provisi onal, but hit that magic button and it all becomes final. Phone a friend, anyone?

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Results. Your students will LOVE you for this: immediate feedback.

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Final Verdict: The purpose of any tool is to accomplish a task, not draw attention to itself. That was my experience with Surveygizmo: it just plain gets the job done.

Hit the link below to go check out your own free trial account of this great survey software.

Try a free SurveyGizmo survey software account

Online Survey Tool

The Connected Prof powers his quizzes with surveygizmo survey software.

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