Monday, June 7, 2010

Doodle -- Online Signup Sheet

In the past three years, I was co-teaching with our nursing faculty on a 2-credit course--Informatics for Healthcare. We had over 60 students each year and we required them to work on Never Event group project. Each group had three students. We had used Wikispaces, Google sites, and our campus wiki for students to sign up for their topics and wiki served as group project site for online collaboration.

Now here comes this year. This course has a new instructor and we decided not to use wiki as online collaboration tool. When it came to have more than 60 students sign up for their never event topics and areas, what tool can we use except using a traditional paper signup sheet? With this question in mind, I tried Google forms and couldn't make them to work for our purpose. One of my friend suggested trying Doodle, which is known for scheduling events. I hadn't seen people use it for signing up for tasks, at least not among my colleagues and peers. Wow, it only took three steps to create a poll: name your poll, enter choices, set up settings, and done. Then Doodle generated an URL to be sent to participants. From the participants' site, it is even simple: click the poll URL, enter their names, make selections, and save.

Good things about Doodle:
  • Create as many options as you wish
  • Control how many choices one participant can make
  • Make participants' choices visible or invisible to them
  • Control who has permission to edit choices or results
  • No signup is needed to participate in the poll
  • Form display layout in mobile devices looks great
  • Explore results to an Excel spreadsheet
  • Free
Not so good things about Doodle:
  • Can't type a long sentence into an option box, which means you will have to use key words to describe your choices.
  • There is no way to create a multiple choice form. For example, if you have a topic, you need to have more than one students to sign up for that topic, you will have to repeat the topic with choices such as this.
  • The horizontal layout of the form on the Web is difficult to navigate especially when you have a lot of choices.
In general, Doodle making choices feature serves the purpose of signing up group work quite well. Unfortunately, it didn't get used for this course. The primary instructor decided to stick to a paper signup form. I totally understand a paper form is always the safer and traditional method and most people feel comfortable with.

This got me to think that adopting technology in teaching and learning takes effort and risk. Not everyone is willing to take the risk and go beyond their comfort zone. I also think there might be even better tools out there for signing up group work. Send me the link if you know of any.