Revision, 4-28-17. I had been struggling with how to make available the form in an auto-copy way, rather than people contacting me and asking me for a copy; it wasn’t very intuitive on GoogleForms how to do it (admittedly, though, I am anti-GoogleDocs in general, though I do love the Forms, point being I use it as little as I have to). I found this post that explained it, however, so this link should provide you with an auto-copy of the form.

[original post begins here]

The age-old problem: how to track students’ volunteering for game show-type activities? I’ve used a bunch: Eggspert (which the kids loved, but just took too long to set up), the ol’ hand slapping the desk, raising the hand, even just shouting out. The best option I had was at my old school, Bancroft School in Worcester (MA), where the language lab would keep track of the order in which students used the ‘call’ button, so the call button in effect became the buzzer.

With the 1:1 I figured there had to be some sort of computer based way to do this, so I hit the App Store. Indeed, there was. Buzzers.com has all sorts of buzzer-type paraphernalia, including an app for both the computer and portable devices. Even better, the app was free. Sounded good. Problem was twofold, though. 1. All computers had to be on the same network (a common requirement, and one that we at least don’t have; my computer is on a different network from the students’); 2. the structure of the app seemed too restrictive, i.e. it seemed that you could have two teams of five each, while I wanted probably 8 or 9 teams of 2-3 each. Back to the drawing board.

What I really wanted was just a button on the students’ screen that they could click on that would then somehow record the order in which that button was clicked. I knew that GoogleForms timestamped all entries, so I wondered if that would work. And for the most part it did. It’s not the most elegant solution, I’ll admit; I wish there were a bit more customization available (I wanted that button but had to settle for a text box), but overall it mostly worked, and the students seemed to enjoy it.

The process is pretty basic:

  • one field: student name
  • the process: students type their name in the form but don’t hit submit
  • the question is read
  • the submit button becomes the buzzer
  • the form on my computer autopopulates as students buzz in
  • (interestingly enough, there were a number of ties time-wise on the form, but I went with the top name; I wonder what puts a name at the top; does Google time it beyond hundredths of a second but only shows hundredths? or does it somehow randomize the ties?)

The one adjustment I would make, and this is only for those of you whose school use Google for email, etc., is that I would require students to use their Wayland emails and leave checked (which for most of my forms I uncheck) that box that says require users to be part of the Wayland domain (however it is phrased). I could then have the Form autorecord the username of each student, which would prevent some impersonation that began to take place as the game went on.

Overall, though, the GoogleForm proved a viable buzzer. I’ve included below a screenshot of both the form itself and the results of one or two questions.

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