30 November 2010

Collecting student lab data

Thanks to Mark Lee for asking this question: "Is there a way to post an Excel spreadsheet in the dropbox so that students can post their results? Now each student is posting a separate spreadsheet, and I have to transfer the data manually to a combined sheet."

My answer:
Do you want students to be able to enter data and see the results as they do, or do you want to collect data and then display their results to them?

Converting an Excel spreadsheet into an interactive web page will give you the first option, but it is usable only in Internet Explorer and does not include charts. The data is not saved, though a student can download the Excel file to a local computer.

For the other option, one way is to use a quiz that collects the data only. You can create a report in CSV format with their answers (grouped by student) and then format that data as you wish for student display.

A second way for this is to use a Google Docs form and spreadsheet. You can design a form that asks for the specific data and then take their results and publish the spreadsheet the form appends to. You can also publish charts separately from the spreadsheet, and the data updates automatically. Each student could fill out the form multiple times. One way to discourage this is to place the form inside a quiz.

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