I got back from Rochester tonight following a couple days of work with about 50 educators from southeast Minnesota. I had a great time and I’m looking forward to continued discussions with the groups as they pursue their technology integration and school improvement goals. My colleague Corey Lunn and I shared some resources that we’ve used in our own work, and I promised to post some links here. I’ll start with the online survey tools.
Online surveys are great tools for a broad range of applications. From a community-wide questionnaire about a proposed school board policy to a quick survey of the teaching staff by a principal, online surveys make it easy to collect and analyze data. I’m familiar with three different survey tools: Zoomerang, KeySurvey, and phpESP. Choosing the right tool for the job requires careful consideration of its intended uses, the technical skills of your IT staff, and your budget.
You can test the online survey waters easily by trying the free version of Zoomerang. It’s limited in the number of respondents and questions per survey and, most importantly, you can’t export the results for further analysis. You can see simple bar graphs and charts online though and that will probably do the job most of the time. You’ll have to step up to the paid version for serious surveying work.
KeySurvey is what we’re using in Hopkins this year. It’s not as cheap as Zoomerang, but it has nearly every bell and whistle. You can create very complex surveys with conditional branching. (In other words, the users may get different questions depending on how they answer other questions.) The analysis tools are very advanced. You can do cross-tabulations on the Web and export all of the data in CSV, direct to Excel, and even SPSS.
Finally, there’s phpESP. If you’ve got a Web server that can run PHP and MySQL, you’ve got all you need. It’s open source and free so there’s little reason not to give it a try. It’s got all the standard survey question types and can export the results in CSV format for easy importing into the analysis tool of your choice.
We use online surveys to collect data from students and parents during each content area’s curriculum review process. I’ve had good luck using the surveys for staff development evaluations too. Are you using an online survey tool? Leave a comment and tell me how you’re using it.