Classroom Polling with Google Forms

One benefit of working within a community of practice is learning about instructional technologies together. Last week, Google officially updated Google Forms, making beta features introduced in September the default. The new design makes prominent the ability to display charts and graphs of form responses in real time. This enables instructors to use Google Forms the way we use classroom response systems (clickers) and web-based polling services like PollEverywhere.

Here is an example of how to use Google Forms for polling in a library instruction session:

  1. Create a Google Form containing poll or quiz questions designed to check students’ comprehension and stimulate discussion.

Create a poll question in Google Forms

(View the full poll – and respond, if you’d like – here.)

  1. Distribute the poll to students in class.

Because Google Forms are Shibbolized – that is, integrated with CNetID authentication – you can use a class roster to distribute polls. While this is not a new feature, it sets Google Forms apart by eliminating (1) the class time wasted as students type the poll URL into their devices and (2) the awkwardness and complexity of using clickers. Instructors can email polls to students before or during class using their CNetIDs. Polls are then accessible to students with just a few clicks on a laptop, phone, or any web-enabled device.

Alternately, polls can be embedded directly into course guides.

Screenshot of a Google Form embedded in LibGuides

  1. Prompt students to complete the poll and display the results as they respond.

Display of poll responses in Google Forms

Note that it is necessary to refresh the page to see new responses. Charts and graphs will not dynamically update as they do with clicker systems and PollEverywhere. This is a clear shortcoming. Still, Google Forms is free, familiar, and easy-to-use — all clear advantages.

I have focused above on how to conduct classroom polling with Google Forms. For a review of why to use classroom polling, I recommend 7 Things You Should Know about Clickers from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative.

During the UChicago custom ACRL Immersion program, we explored techniques to activate our classrooms, to put students in control of their learning rather than in passive, consumptive roles. Polling prompts students to share what they know and challenge and augment their peers’ understanding. By integrating polling into our teaching, we design instruction around students’ actual knowledge, enabling them and us to build on what is already known and actively clarify what is not.

Poll: Will you try classroom polling?

NISO Webinars: Winter and Spring Quarters 2016

Upcoming NISO webinar of possible be of interest:

The Start Up Effect – How Startups are Changing the Culture of Scholarly Communication

Wednesday, February 10, 12:00-1:30pm, Kathleen Zar Room

This session will explore the organizational and cultural characteristics that support innovation from the perspective of both new and traditional organizations. It will also explore the impacts the culture of start-ups has already had on scholarly communications and what might be forthcoming from this innovative explosion.


  • Small is Beautiful: The Rise of Niche Services and the Breakdown of Siloes.
    Melinda Kenneway, Executive Director, Kudos
  • The web is changing what we publish, how we publish, and what happens after publication.  Lenny Teytelman, Founder,
  • Doubling Up: Leveraging the Cultures of Innovation and Librarianship to Transform Scholarly Communication.  Robin Champieux, Scholarly Communication Librarian, Oregon Health & Science University

Remaining 2016 NISO Webinars.  All times are 12:00-1:30pm and will be viewed in the Kathleen Zar Room unless otherwise noted.

  • Wednesday March 16: What Data is being collected and by whom? (Part 1: Privacy)
  • Wednesday March 23: Understanding privacy policies (Part 2: Privacy)
  • Wednesday April 13: Supporting women and minorities in technology (in John Crerar Boardroom)
  • Wednesday May 11: Supporting research on your campus
  • Wednesday June 8: Integrating library management systems

Flipping the Classroom

As Resident Librarian for Online Learning, I am interested in finding new ways to integrate technology into the library classroom. One technique, popularized in 2011, is the concept of the flipped classroom. A flipped classroom is a strategy to deliver instructional content outside of the classroom. Classroom time is devoted to discussion, activity, and collaborative learning. In a flipped classroom, students watch online lectures or carry out research at home and engage in concepts through activities and discussion in the classroom.

Why should you flip?

A flipped classroom’s most highlighted benefits are student-directed learning and an active classroom. Because the course materials are online, students control how they learn: they can pause or rewind videos, retake tutorials, and re-listen to lectures on their own time. Then, in the classroom, students have the opportunity to apply the concept in real-time assignments. The instructor serves as a “guide on the side,” ready to step in and help the students when they encounter problems.

So how does this look in library instruction?

A librarian interested in teaching a flipped one-shot will need to work closely with the instructor. The flip requires that students come to class prepared, so the librarian and the instructor will need to discuss how the instructional materials will be provided to the students.

Next, the librarian should consider what objectives they want covered and how that information will be conveyed. Although sometimes these items need to be created from scratch, we are actively trying to develop online tutorials and libguides that can be used for flipped classrooms.

Finally, think about how time in the classroom will be used. One of the most popular uses of the flipped model has students conducting research on their topics as the librarian acts as consultant or problem-solver. However, flipping the classroom can be any kind of collaborative, student-led work. For example, in one of her library instruction sessions, Sarah Wenzel implemented an exercise where students worked together to create an annotated bibliography.

Flipping means work (but you have friends)

As with any curriculum design, there are inherent challenges. Instructor buy-in is paramount to a flipped workshop’s success. If the instructor doesn’t ask that students engage with the prepared material before class, the students will be unprepared.

Additionally, creating the instructional videos or materials for a flipped class can be tedious. While we have a collection of material, sometimes a class will have a unique twist or unusual element that needs to be addressed.

If you wish to learn more about how to flip your classroom, or have new materials developed for a flipped experience, however, you have a couple of great resources (Julie and I!) who would be happy to help.

Further Reading

Seven Things You Should Read About Flipped Classrooms (Educause)

Flipping the Classroom: How Online Resources Enable Pedagogical Innovation (University of Chicago Divinity School)

Creating Digital Media LibGuide (University of Chicago Libraries)

How do we do assessment here?

In looking for information about assessment to post to Instructionally Speaking, I found a lot of articles that described assessment in environments that didn’t quite seem to apply to ours.  Would we be able to review and score students’ papers using AAC&U’s Information Literacy VALUE rubric like Wendy Holliday et al. in “An Information Literacy Snapshot: Authentic Assessment across the Curriculum”?  Can we participate in curriculum mapping when, in many cases, we don’t have course outcomes or objectives in which to map?

I then read this statement in Kuh’s report Knowing What Students Know and Can Do: The Current State of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment in US Colleges and Universities.

In general, institutional selectivity is negatively related to assessment activity.  For  almost every category of assessment activity, the more selective an institution’s admissions standards, the less likely it is to employ various assessment approaches, or use the results.

Why is this?  Does it apply here?  If so, what does this mean for us?


Wendy Holliday, Betty Dance, Erin Davis, Britt Fagerheim, Anne Hedrich, Kacy Lundstrom, and Pamela Martin. “An Information Literacy Snapshot: Authentic Assessment across the Curriculum.” Coll. Res. Libr. March, 2015. 76:170-187; doi:10.5860/crl.76.2.170

Kuh, G. D., Jankowski, N., Ikenberry, S. O., & Kinzie, J. (2014). Knowing What Students Know and Can Do: The Current State of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment in US Colleges and Universities. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).


Webinar on Threshold Concepts and Information Literacy Instruction

I’ve reserved the TECHB@R (JRL 160) for the following webinar.  Please feel free to join us!

Big Picture Theory and the Practical Classroom: Threshold Concepts and Information Literacy Instruction

Date and Time: Tuesday, November 17, 2015 11:00 am CST
Duration:  1 hour 30 minutes

Sylvia Lin Hanick, First Year Experience Librarian and Assistant Professor, LaGuardia Community College (CUNY)
Lori Townsend, Learning Services Coordinator, University of New Mexico

Threshold concepts offer a big picture perspective for our information literacy content; this model encourages expert practitioners (us!) to identify the broad ideas that define a discipline. This is not easy because threshold concepts are themselves a threshold concept. They are transformative, integrative, irreversible, bounded, troublesome, and – importantly – they take time to traverse. This meeting will introduce the threshold concepts model as it applies to information literacy. It will address criticisms of the model and discuss the implications of the theory for teaching and learning in the library classroom. We will talk about how librarians can incorporate conceptual teaching into their practice and provide examples of activities and assignments.

This webinar is sponsored by the ACRL Student Learning and Information Literacy Committee