And the survey says… !

It seems that new online survey tools are bursting onto the Internet world every day. To design my first online survey, I was quite certain that I wanted to use Survey Monkey, but wasn’t sure why… I think it was because it was all I knew. I was curious to find out more.

Several effective free online survey tools exist. In A Few Good Online Survey Tools, Eric Leeland says of online survey tools, “Pretty much any good online survey tool will allow you to easily define your survey questions and the possible responses using an online interface, and then send your constituents a link to answer the survey online” (2011). Leeland goes on to say that other features, such as visual elements, Web site integration, piping (the ability to pull answers from one part of a survey into another), and data analysis differ. These could prove important, depending on one’s purpose.

I wanted to experiment with a couple of survey tool options. Upon researching Survey Monkey, I happened upon a Canadian survey tool, FluidSurveys, and decided to investigate the two.

I read in online comparisons such as Factoidz.com, that the main difference between the two free versions is that Survey Monkey only allows for 10 questions per survey, whereas FluidSurveys allows up to 20. This was not a factor in the particular survey I wished to share. FluidSurvey is said to offer more cross-referencing options, which may be important for some survey result requirements. Fluid Surveys also claims to support bilingual surveys but Survey Monkey now offers platforms for various languages.

I needed a relatively simple survey that would tell me which Prairie South Schools provide Core French instruction, at which grade levels, and by whom. I decided to create the same survey using both programs, in order to determine which was the more appropriate for my purposes. In my examination of the two tools:

– Both offer predetermined themes and options for customizing themes by selecting fonts, sizes and colours for specific elements of the survey such as questions, titles, etc.
– Survey Monkey is, in my opinion, a little more user-friendly, providing a simpler format for entering questions and customizing themes.
– I did not experience a problem in creating a French survey in either program, as it seems quite simple to type in one’s own titles, headings and questions, negating a need for a base language. Both accept French diacritics.

Check out my Survey Monkey survey HERE

Find my FluidSurveys survey HERE:

In the end, I decided to send out the Survey Monkey survey as that is the tool used by Prairie South, and the one which my coordinator recommended. Survey Monkey allows for the adaptation of a previous survey, so I based mine on a survey that was designed by an administrative assistant last year.

I appreciated the user-friendly, easy-to-follow layout and process offered by Survey Monkey. It was easy to create headings, select the type of questions, and to add questions and sub-sections for each question.
The tool has proven effective so far, as of the schools that have responded so far, I have been able to ascertain the desired information.

My mistakes, I believe, lay in the delivery of the survey.
The first time, I sent out the wrong link, not realizing that I had to click on “send survey” to reach the correct link. Instead, I sent administrators the link to the editable version which, of course, they were unable to open. Thanks to the efficient administrative assistant who sends out such correspondence, my error was rectified, and the correct link provided!

Upon reading the results, I realized that I must be more specific in my directions, as several schools filled out the survey multiple times, for different grade levels. My guess is that some administrators sent the link to teachers to fill out rather than doing so themselves. In my reminder, I will ask more clearly that each school fill out the survey only once.

One interesting limitation – I attempted to add a question mark to one of my questions after having received some responses, but found that I could not fully edit the survey without clearing the results, which I did not wish to do.

Overall, I found both survey programs very easy to use, and the results easily accessible. Considering these are free tools, I am impressed with the user-friendly interface, number of available options for customizing, and simplicity of sharing the survey with one’s audience. Now that I have had an opportunity to experiment with Survey Monkey, I will definitely be using the program in the future for consultant work, as well as in my classroom.

For more information on how to create your own online surveys with Survey Monkey, check out this video tutorial:

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