*** Please note that my ED 431 course requires us to post our assignments in draft form for classmates to provide feedback. The following entry is a draft. I encourage all criticisms of content or style. Thank you!***
Assignment: Create a survey using a Form in Google Drive. Use a variety of question types and branching logic where relevant. Summarize findings, create charts to display data, and reflect on your results.
In my library school graduate program, I experienced working in a group online for the first time. It was also the first online group work any of my teammates had done. Luckily we were all tech savvy and had experience with a number of tools that facilitated our collaboration. We used a team member’s workplace file sharing tool (similar to Dropbox or Wiggio), Doodle to schedule real-time meetings across our time zones, our school’s multi-modal online classroom software to meet in real time (Wimba, similar to eLive), and sent scores of emails in Blackboard and through traditional email. I remember being impressed and feeling relieved at how smoothly it went. We were a very effective team and everyone held their own weight. I do not know how much of it had to do with the group collaborating exclusively online versus it being a graduate course as opposed to a prior education level. By the end of my program, I felt as though I could collaborate effectively with someone anywhere in the world on virtually any kind of project.
As I was brainstorming ideas for a survey, the idea of exploring group work in online courses stood out to. I’ve long been curious about how common it is to work on group projects in online courses and how people feel about them once assigned. I expanded on this to look at what types of tools people are using in their group work, what specific tools are most commonly used, which tools people find to be most effective, and whether instructors provide students with guidance on which tools to use. You may view (and take, if you wish) my survey here. Feel free to answer questions different ways to explore the different branches the survey takes according to responses. However, kindly do not submit your results on the demographics page unless you have answered all questions honestly.
>>>> After carefully crafting my survey, I distributed it out to my various social networks. One unexpected lesson I learned via this assignment was the power of my social network. Putting it to work for me. Overwhelming response. Wish I had done a survey on where they learned of the survey or at the very least added a question about it. Results very much reflect my social network and not the population at large.<<<<<< I have included demographics here for your reference:
My survey results are rich with data that I could play with for days on end. I’d love to explore relationships between particular responses and demographics, such as, did a person’s feelings toward online group work seem related to one’s age or gender? And were students who had only taken graduate level courses more likely to have been assigned a group project than respondents who had taken only undergraduate online courses? Due to the time constraints of this assignment and the emphasis on learning tools, I am focusing on more straight-forward results for the purposes of this blog entry. Though I will not discuss all of my results, you are welcome to explore the raw data yourself here. (If you use any of it for any purpose, please provide me with proper credit. Thanks!)
Of the 96 people who completed my survey prior to me working with the data, 84 had taken an online course of some kind. Of those, 57% had taken an online graduate course, 50% had taken an online undergraduate course, and 39% had taken a MOOC (massive open online course). Do note that some respondents had taken more than one type of course. I was pleased with the variety of course experience my respondents had. Entirely underrepresented in my data are learners who had taken and online course in K-12. One result of my survey that surprised me was the number of people in my sample who had participated in a collaborative or group project as part of an online course, over 60%. I had not expected it to be so high.
An answer of yes to the above question opened the door to the rest of my survey for 51 respondents. When asked what types of collaborative tools they used to complete their online group project(s), nearly all expressed that they had used an asynchronous discussion tool such as email or discussion board. The vast majority also used a document creation or editing tool (i.e. Google Docs), a real-time text discussion tool (i.e. chat or text messaging), and/or a file sharing tool (i.e. Dropbox or Google Drive).
Most surprising to me among the above results was the clear preference for the use of text over audio or video in real-time discussions and the number of people who managed to complete projects without using a file-sharing tool. I envision these latter learners emailing their document or product back and forth in a confusing sea of drafts, an experience I have had too many times in both school and work environments.
In my survey, I provided respondents with a lengthy list of specific online collaboration tools in an attempt to see which were widely used and preferred. Of note here was the clear emergence of four tools that stood head and shoulders above the rest: email, Google Docs, Blackboard, and Facebook, in that order.
I was quite surprised to see that email was the most widely used tool despite a proliferation of available tools. I did expect to see Blackboard at the top as it seems students would be likely to use the same tool that their online class is delivered in (and Blackboard seems to dominate the market).
I was also very surprised by the results I received regarding feelings toward group work in online and in-person classes. I thought people would have a clear preference for in-person group work but as a whole, they showed no preference. It was entertaining to read the comments left after this question as many individual did in fact have strong opinions about one or the other, or about group work in general!
>>> Conclusion. Learned about surveys, Google forms, great way to collect information. I loved the quick view of results using the “Summary of Responses” option in the survey edit screen. Gave immediate results to see where further exploration into data was necessary. Experience making charts in Google Docs, made docs but never worked in Excel.<<<
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good job – great number of responses. I wish my network had responded at that rate! I also agree that the survey was well done (like your comment about the love of survey taking – it makes you more connected with the art of creating one :)!
I am not really sure what else to say – Skip and Katie have already hit the areas the comments I had… an option to “not respond”, work group preferences… I find that interesting as well – especially when considering age of the participants… I myself still have “discomfort” with online work groups, but my 19 year old twin sons “love” them!
D’Arcy, like Skip I was impressed with both your survey construction and the large number of responses you received. You are obviously a valued member of your social network.
I think your results really accentuate the possibilities of online learning, especially with the tools that are now available. As you mentioned, it was very interesting to see a lack of preference between in-person and online group work. I think you would have received very different data ten years ago.
Skip pointed out something that hadn’t occurred to me; an option to choose “prefer not to say” might lead to more accurate responses. That never would have occurred to me. Great idea.
One small thing: in the second paragraph I am not sure what the “to” is referring to in the following sentence: “As I was brainstorming ideas for a survey, the idea of exploring group work in online courses stood out to.”
Thank you for your feedback! I think my love for survey-taking (which has led to me taking countless surveys) really helped me think through potential answers and recognize where other/prefer not to say might be a preferred option. I’m glad my use of it and Skip pointing it out was useful for you. I’m sure it will be a valuable addition to your future surveys.
I think you might be right about the data being different 10 years ago. I wonder if anyone has published data from a similar survey in the past that I could compare. I’ll have to add searching for such a study to my ever-growing list of neat things to pursue! Your comment also shows the value of longitudinal studies. This might be something to consider as you implement your surveys to your students. It would be fun (and possibly the start of some great research or presentations if you are in to that sort of thing) to see how those responses change over time. Thanks as well for the typo mention! I’ll get that cleared up in my final draft before posting it.
I very much enjoyed reading (and rereading) your response. On the technical side, your survey was very well-crafted. You avoided trapping people with choices they may not be comfortable with by using “other” or “prefer not to say” options for most questions. I think this also insures more reliable data in that people do not choose an option that does not reflect their response accurately. Your data (impressive with 96 responses!) shows that very clearly. Your analysis was thorough and thoughtful as well. I appreciate the emphasis that you put on using your social network to seek input for your survey. Our class is quite small and very little meaningful analysis can be produced from such a small n. While you do make the case that your responses may be somewhat skewed due to the fact that people in your social network may have been more likely to take online courses, I think that your results are meaningful and, in some cases, very revealing. Like you, I was surprised at the preference for text-based tools.
Obviously, in this draft, your conclusion needs to be fleshed out a bit, but the items you’ve included here would make a strong conclusion.
I’m glad to see that GD surveys worked so well for you. There is quite a bit of power in this tool. The branching logic–which you used very effectively–can be a bit cumbersome at first, and I wish that editing the order of questions in a survey would automatically re-order the columns in the results spreadsheet, but for quick surveys I don’t think there is a better tool. Learning to use the results spreadsheet to mine your data brings a lot more functionality to the tool. (And, like you, I love the automatically updated Summary View of the data being collected.)
Very nicely done all the way around. When you’ve completed your conclusion, it’s ready to be moved to your portfolio.
Thank you for the positive feedback on my the survey itself (here, via email, and in Edmodo). As far as I can recall, I have never created a survey before but I do love the idea of getting information from others in this way. When I started making it, I found myself getting really into it and trying to think about all the possible ways someone might want to answer. I am definitely a survey taker and will rarely pass up a survey no matter what it’s for. Unfortunately, I’ve taken a lot of “bad” surveys where I found myself having to answer in a way that wasn’t true because the option I needed wasn’t there. I’ve also taken ones with ambiguous wording so I wasn’t sure if I was answering honestly. I tried to avoid those problems.
I also tried to think through what kinds of data I might get, what it might tell me, and what I might wish I had known after seeing some data. Overall, that careful forethought really served me well.
I really enjoyed the data portion of the assignment as well. There was a lot of struggling with the spreadsheet and charts but ultimately, I loved seeing what the data revealed.
I feel like I want to more with this data so I am thinking about finding a venue to do a poster presentation or a talk on this topic. Perhaps I will continue my push for survey responses to get an even larger sample to work with. I could even see this being a part of my thesis… We shall see!