Tag Archives: Polling and Surveying

Event: Flattening the Classroom: Building Collaborative Learning Environments

Event website

This two-day virtual event focuses on effective collaboration. I’ve missed some of it, due to some technical difficulties, but what I did catch was pretty interesting!

Diane Chapman – What is Collaboration?

Collaboration – a dirty little secret?
I’m not sure I agree with this statement… at our school, the lack of a potential for collaboration in some of the campus-wide tools is the dirty little secret that isn’t such a secret anymore. A key point made that I do agree with, however, is that collaboration has to be PLANNED in advance. Sure – it can be fun to be spontaneous, but it can get messy very quickly without a plan.

“Plan for inevitable bumps in the road” – This applies to any technology, and is often forgotten when using it.

“Group think is NOT Collaboration” – I love this quote!! “Group think” is when a group gives in to a dominant idea, instead of everyone participating equally. Something that we have to teach groups to remember, and something group members have to practise. Going along with the ideas of the group is not the same as adding your ideas to the mix. Yes, it’s easier to go along with everyone and seems to get the job done faster — but it defeats the purpose of the whole exercise!

The role of creativity in collaboration: unique viewpoints, not equal to chaos, important to collaboration.

Noshir Sarosh Contractor – Understanding and Enabling Online Collaboration Networks

Social collaboration is not as much about who you know, or what you know, but others’ perception of who and what you know. These notions make up different kinds of networks, and the different ways in which they work. It doesn’t just involve a collection of people, but people, networks, data, and the relationships between all of these areas – a “community”.

The best collaborative ideas come out when the community is not made up of people from the same circle – but we still often end up creating social networks with people that are from our area of the world.

Michelle Pacansky-Brock – VoiceThread: Collaborative, Community-Oriented Learning Spaces

What is a voice thread?

Online media “album” featuring presentations, imags, documents and videos. Thse open up into collaborative conversations where users may comment in text, voice, or video. She has used this from w/in Blackboard courses. Users are of varying skill and comfort level – she is there to demonstrate “mastery” (goes along with first speaker, who says that modelling is very important).

Students commented that they liked to hear their peers’ voices and see pictures and images – gave a better sense of the community.

Beryl Levinger – Technologies That Enhance Collaborative, Interdisciplinary Learning

DPMI – an INTENSIVE program, that leaves students with many skills that will aid them in professional life.

Feedback is an important skill…

Use mostly synchronous collaborative technologies for co-creation.

Tool-rich – mastery of a set of tools within a framework, some applied collaboratively and online, but some individually and on paper.

  • Results Framework
  • Logical Framework

Community-oriented – creating social bonds that enable them to work together effectively, and enjoy their time together, seeds are sown for collaboration

Avowedly collaborative – harness collective intelligence, use of wikis

Cheat, steal and be lazy! – DPMI Motto, and my second favourite quote of the day!! – build on the thinking of others! (Ha! I just posted about this topic!) Shared ownership and empowerment to collectively take action.

The ability to collaborate is as important as the outcome of the collaboration.

Collaboration as a learned skill…

Uses Zoho Wiki, Zoho Notebook (a shell that links all of the students’ personal notebooks… where they post various media, notes, etc.), Poll Daddy, Zoho Polls (peer-to-peer feedback), students must present poll results in their final presentation and explain how they used poll results to affect the final product.

Wiki inconveniences (that Google Docs addresses) – wikis don’t handle spreadsheets and diagramming very well, are generally asynchronus (only one student can update at a time). Use Google Docs for this, but link to the docs from within the wiki so that all content is accessible from the wiki.

Twitter – has gotten some students to participate that would normally not (sometimes because they are not as fluent in English, and is an easier method of communication). Yet, feels like a distraction. Still experimenting with it.

CMAP Tools – Synchronous/Asynchronous for mapping relationships

Students appreciate the collaborative aspect of the program MORE after the program than during it. Down the road, they realize that the skills that they have learned in the program are valuable for the real world, and they are skills that not everyone learns.

Telling Stories in Land and Food Systems: Future Advocates & Citizen Journalists

Podcasting – repurposing lectures, but not dynamic use of the technology

Day 2

Janet Salmons – How Did WE Work? Assessing Collaborative Assignments

Students are wary of group work, because they don’t trust their groupmates (to complete their tasks, to take the project as seriously, to provide a certain level of work) or the instructor (to fairly assess group work, to protect the group members from ‘bad’ group members).

  • Assessment of collaborative work requires planning, checkpoints
  • Assessment not only of outcomes, but of the process itself.
  • Assessment of the group and the individuals (not necessarily the same thing! peoples’ contribution differs!)

Balance instructor-driven and learner-driven styles.

My Opinio About Charts

Yesterday, I stuck with most of the defaults in my test of Opinio polls, and I had some success. I did run into a few problems, which I will describe below. I’m not sure how savvy my readers are (are you out there?), but I’m always left wondering how software designers come up with some of their management interfaces. I’m used to digging through new software and figuring things out — and even I get lost. (This isn’t a stab at Opinio – I find this with just about EVERY piece of software I use. Baffling, baffling UI sometimes.)

Onto my follow-up with polls…

Changing the Chart

This one stumped me for a while, and the help really didn’t help me here. Some background: the poll results can be set to display in chart format. The default is a horizontal bar chart, but you can also pick from a vertical bar chart and a pie chart. My problem was that the default settings were not sufficient — one of my questions got sort of cut off in the results (couldn’t see the whole answer text, and couldn’t see ANY results). I thought maybe a different chart would help (which it did – I’ll get into that later).

I was in the "Set Poll Behaviour" screen, where you set the Result type to be "Chart" or "Thank you note". I also wanted to see the options for the chart, but didn’t see them on this screen. I clicked the cute little green question mark bubble. Here, I find reference to "Quick Chart Edit" – sounds promising! Click on that link, which shows me what I’m looking for… but… wait… how do I get there? I look in the menu, no reference to "Quick Chart Edit". No description in the help page for how to find this elusive tool. Commence hair pulling.

After a little back & forth, I decided to move on… and magically found the option. See, you need to be in the "Customize Look & Feel", or simply "Look & Feel" menu group in order to see the "Quick poll chart edit" option. Yikes. Seriously?

Quick Recap: Customize look and feel > Quick poll chart edit will allow you to make some simple, but useful changes to your results chart.

Chart Layout (or, how to actually see all of your stuff)

OK, so now that I’ve found it… why did I need it in the first place? Ah, yes… because things weren’t displaying properly. At first I thought it had something to do with the system I posted it on (which happened to be this blog, in what is currently Roller blog software). I soon realized that the same behaviour was happening in the preview right in Opinio.

In my example, I have two questions. The first is a multiple choice with three possible answers, one of which is rather long ("I have an account, but rarely/never use it."). Both questions appear on the first screen (don’t love the layout or spacing of the questions, but at least it works). Select your answers, and click ‘Vote’. The results, by default, appear in a "Horizontal Bar Chart". My second question results display as expected — but not the first. To start, the text for answer option 3 (the long one) gets cut off. Even worse, no results appear for this question. Frustrating!! Let’s start with the bigger problem…

a) Getting all results to display – widen both the table & the chart

I actually started by changing the chart type – first to vertical bar, then to pie. The vertical bar was the only one that showed the results to both questions without any further editing. The pie chart seemed to suffer from the same affliction as the horizontal bar chart. I realized that the wee box displaying the poll was simply not wide enough to accommodate my results.

click Customize Look & Feel to widen the poll table

Here, you can pick other box styles (and Advanced will allow you to play with the CSS… I’ll definitely be exploring this soon!). You can also change the  "Form Width", which is what I did. You may have to play with this a little to get the right width for your poll & the page you are delivering it on.

From inside the Customize Look & Feel menu, click Quick poll chart edit to widen the poll results chart itself

Here is where you can choose from the various chart options – I’d do this before playing with the width of the chart – and set the "Chart Width".

Click ‘Preview poll’ in the left-hand menu bar at any time to view your poll.

Where Do I Use this?

After you go through all of the steps in preparing your poll, click "Publish Poll" to get the couple of lines of code needed to add the poll to a web page. We’re still testing the deployment out in different systems, but have had success in adding them to Serena Collage sites and Roller blogs. A quick test of our test WordPress site did not give us good results, but there are a few factors which we can control that we’ll play with to see if we can get it working. We’ve also had some trouble adding polls to Blackboard courses. Basically, any system that relies heavily on Javascript may not allow you to add things like these polls. Some sites prevent users from posting Javascript for security reasons. These are all things that you need to take into account when deciding to use these tools.

OK, so that was a pretty dry post for today. Sorry, but I thought I’d post something useful for once. I hope to bring the song & dance back soon!

What's Your Opinio?

Venturing into new territory… poll/survey software.

Granted, this isn’t the most "Web 2.0" stuff… but I’m learning about it. Today, I’m going to look specifically at the polling features. I took a quick peek a week or so ago, and found it pretty easy to set up a default poll – but some of the options were worded pretty strangely. I’m going to use this blog entry to demystify some of them.

First: Remember to look in the left-hand toolbar to figure out what to do next. I managed to create a new poll, but started scratching my head about what to do next. Left-hand bar "Guide" section has a link to "Create Questions".

Label Position: I had to read this a couple of times before I had it figured out. When making web pages, a ‘label’ might refer to a piece of text that goes along with a text field or something. In this case, things seem to be confused. The option is called "Label Position", but the options all refer to "button left", "button right", etc. The "button" in this case is the radio button (in the case of a multiple choice question). I want the radio button to appear to the left of the text (label?), so I chose "button left". (If you pick the position of the button, rather than that of the label, shouldn’t the option be called Button Position?)

Answer Rotation: I’m pretty sure this refers to randomizing the answers, so they don’t appear in the same order for every person taking the poll.

Help!: OK, so I just noticed the little green questionmark icon guy. It’s meant to give you some contextual help for whichever screen you happen to be on. You can probably disregard most of this post, since it’s probably all answered in The Emerald City.

May 26 Update: a few points that you may need to know

  • Firefox/Roller Bug? – If you embed a poll in a Roller blog post, you won’t be able to edit the post in Firefox. You’ll need to use Internet Explorer. (Weird, I know…). I would actually recommend putting the poll in its own post, and put other next in a second post (so you can edit the text part on its own and not worry about it too much)
  • IF YOU CAN’T GET THE POLL TO WORK: i.e. you embed the code, but you only see the last screen, it may mean that your poll has past the specified ‘end date’. By default, Opinio sets it as a week – be sure to set it to something appropriate for your project. After the fact This is can be changed by going to "Poll Home", and clicking on the "Stop Date" to change it. (See the next point for the next step.)
  • Your poll may be locked – go to "Poll Home" if the traffic light is red, your poll is locked."Click to unlock poll". This will happen if your poll end date has passed – even after changing the date, you will have to unlock the poll in order to have people take it again. 

 Here is my sample poll: