SMS Principal Mike Herdliska has had great success this year transitioning from paper to online data gathering. He started with building climate surveys using the form option in Google Docs. Last year 23 staffers responded via the paper form. That total increased to 35. Student participation exploded, going from 84 in 2009 to 427 this year. Parental feedback blossomed also with 60 responses in 2010 compared to 13 last year.
The administrative time saving was significant, taking Mr Herdliska only about 20 minutes to set up the survey and post it. In the past, the survey had to be printed, sorted, distributed, gathered and tallied by hand. With Google Docs, not only was the data available immediately, it was automatically sorted by group, from which charts could be generated on the fly.
He commented, "obviously the number of responses adds to the validity, but also I believe that the honesty of the feedback is better than would be expected from a paper copy - comment bank would indicate this as well..."
The Leadership Team has gone on to use the easy survey form to gather input for timely decision making.
Mr Herdliska noted that he could "see many ways to gather input from all stakeholders and make decisions based on data..."
If you haven't explored the many features in GoogleDocs, you may want to do so. There are many classroom applications as well. The Google for Educators site is a good starting point.