“How do you blend tools to solve a real-life problem?” That’s a question that pops up often for me. A popular concept from using iPads is “app-smashing,” which involves taking what you made in one app and dropping it into another. Usually, this results in a refinement of the initial product, enhancing it with audio or video. You can do the same with Google Apps tools.
Let’s consider these real-world scenarios which may all be solved by combining key Google tools such as Sites, Forms, and Sheets:
Students have asked how they can know who else has signed up to attend an after-hours, academic field trip. To automate the process, create a Google Form to capture student registrations, which are saved to a Google Sheet, and those responses can be displayed on a Google Sites location.
Staff have a variety of questions regarding a new initiative. They want to make sure you, the administrator, are getting the responses. To eliminate email traffic (after all, who needs more email?), you want them to fill out a Form with their question. Then, you and your team are able to record your response in an additional column. Both their questions and your responses appear in a Google Sheet housing the responses.
Create a sample Google Sites location that provides some background information on the event, has the Forms link, and displays the responses (as well as any additions you have made). Share the link via social media or email the link to the Sites location to those who need it.
Let’s walk through what this might look like:
Step 1 – Create the Form and Sheets spreadsheet for responses.
To begin, develop your list of information queries. For example, in the case of the classroom scenario, you might want to include queries like the following:
- Your First Name
- Your Last Name
- Your District Email
- Staff or Student?
- Attend Field Trip?
Once the person has completed the form, they would be shuttled off to the Google Sites location that is to be created in Step 2. In truth, you could probably complete Step 2 first to get the link or just come back and edit the form. Another key component of this step is to create the Responses form and designate where those responses will appear in a Google Sheet. To verify the form is working, submit a fake response. Once the response has been submitted, you will notice that the Responses Google Sheet has placed your responses beneath a column corresponding to the information queries.
After the last column in your responses, add another column entitled “Status.” In this column, you and/or your team will update the status of each form submitted. In the case of questions, you can type a short response, being sure to set the format for the column to “wrap text.” You will also want to set up notifications on your Google Sheet featuring the responses to the Form so that you receive an email every time the form is completed. Here’s one example with data partially blurred to protect the innocent:
Step 2 – Create the Google Site
Create a Sites location with three tabs to include the following:
- Home – This tab is your “Welcome” screen that allows you to provide background information for visitors to the Google Sites location.
- Ask for Help – This tab includes a link to the “Ask for Help” Google Form. The form is actually embedded in the Google Sites page, enabling visitors to fill it out and submit it without having to leave the Sites location.
- Check Status – This tab features an embedded copy of the Google Sheet which houses your responses.
Once your Google Sites location has been created, you can share it with others, even using a URL shortener to make it easier to share.
As you can see, you can add even more information to your Google Sites. But this makes it easy to quickly capture and share information and questions without being inundated via email with people’s requests for assistance. It also more quickly organizes the information for your review and externalizes it so that anyone you designate can look it up via Google Sites. This eliminates people calling or emailing you repeatedly to ask for the status. And it helps create a knowledge database that facilitates information sharing with interested individuals.