In recent years, Google Drive has increasingly provided intuitive, collaborative, and functional alternatives to more familiar software programs, including Google Forms, their answer to research-inquiry tools like SurveyMonkey. If you’re reluctant to make the switch, here are some tips that may just make you a convert!

When you’re editing a form, the icons on the top right hand side of the screen allow you to adjust and personalize the form to meet your needs:
  • Click the Color Palette to change the general color scheme. Selecting the last palette option (an image icon) will give you more choices as well as the option to upload your own header. Whether you upload something from the Extension Image Gallery or select an applicable Google-generated theme, glamming up your questionnaire can improve the user experience and even add some sophisticated flair to an otherwise run-of-the-mill survey!
  • Clicking the eye symbol will open a new tab to give you a sneak peek of the form from the perspective of a prospective respondent. Definitely take advantage of this tool throughout the process of building your form to avoid mistakes that might jeopardize your results.
  • The gear symbol opens up a variety of unique adjustable options, some of which are crucial depending on the purpose of your form. For example, if it is not meant to be a blind survey but rather the answers must match up with the name of the respondent, be sure to select “Collect email address” under the “General” tab. The “Quizzes” tab will also allow you to treat the form as a test. These are great options to use in situations where you are evaluating student progress as you are able to collect responses, monitor when submissions are made, and have Google Forms automatically assign grades.

Progressive Questioning
A great feature that can be utilized when generating definitive responses using “Dropdown” or “Multiple Choice” questions is exemplified on the Extension Technology Purchasing Program form you receive when your work computer warranty expires. The first question of that form prompts you to select a “Laptop” or a “Desktop,” and your response signals the form to move to a section specifically asking follow-up questions based on your original selection. Rather than having you figure out which accessories apply to a laptop versus a desktop, you are presented only with relevant options. This feature allows you to design your questionnaire with a progressive flow, with the potential to generate more comprehensive evaluation and create a more personalized user experience. While SurveyMonkey also offers this feature, it is only available in the paid versions. Google Form, however, offers this feature for free!

To create progressive questioning, you must first separate questions into sections by selecting the last question box before you would like a page jump, then pushing the icon that resembles a thick equal sign (“Add section”) at the bottom of the vertical menu to the right of the box. When “Go to section based on answer” is selected, drop down menus will appear beside the different answers and you may select which section should follow each selection.

Response/Data Collection
Once you've previewed your form and feel confident that everything is ready to send, there's a massive "SEND" button in the top right corner that will bring up plenty of self-explanatory options. One great feature here is the ability to select "Include form in email." If you have separate sections, only the first section question(s) will appear in the body of the email. Submitting responses from the first section will open another tab to continue the questionnaire.

At the top of the form body, you will see "Questions" and "Responses." The "Responses" view allows you to visualize data derived from responses, send reminders to those that have not submitted responses, and download responses into an organized spreadsheet. While creating a spreadsheet using Google Sheets will allow answers to continue to populate, be aware that downloading the responses to an Excel spreadsheet will only capture a snapshot of the responses at the time of downloading.

More Information
In case you’re still unconvinced, or perhaps you’re intimidated by the idea of learning a new tool, Google has some great information and a Help Center to ease the transition!

Have you used Google Forms, and if so - how? Any tips for making more dynamic questionnaires? Any requests for future, more in-depth Google Forms posts? Leave a comment and let us know!
Podcast Episode 4. Where my dogs at?

Quick Bytes Live! Podcast

Episode 4: Where my dogs at?

(recorded August 12, 2016)
Karen, Amy, Alison, and Danny talk about Office Mix and using it for recording PowerPoint. We also do an App Roundup and answer listener questions.

Links from this episode:

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Office Mix is a free PowerPoint add-in that allows you to record audio or video of yourself presenting, write on your slides as you speak and even do a screen recording if you want to demonstrate something. In an April Quick Bytes post, I shared how you can record audio right in PowerPoint (2013 or later) and save it as an MP4 video. Office Mix makes recording easier with a toolbar that contains the needed tools for recording.

Office Mix software

Office Mix is a free download from After installation, Office Mix has its own tab on the ribbon in PowerPoint.

Office Mix ribbon
The buttons you will likely use on the Office Mix ribbon are Slide Recording, Screen Recording, Export to Video and Preview. While Mix is great for narration and screen recording, it includes some additional interactive features such as adding quizzes, web pages and apps that do not convert to MP4 video and are not recommended. MP4 is the best option for sharing video and uploading to YouTube.

Slide Recording

With your presentation open in PowerPoint, on the Mix tab, click the Slide Recording button. This opens the recording mode.

In recording mode, you will see your slide presentation in the main body of the screen. To the right you will see the audio and video panel where you can select audio and video inputs and check your volume. If you want to draw on your slides, you can choose a pen size and ink color.

At the top you will see your slide notes and when you are ready, click Record. During your recording, you can draw on your slides, trigger slide animations and advance to the next slide.
Record one slide at a time. If you mess up your recording, click Stop and preview your recording or delete and re-record your slide. When you are done, click the close button. You are now back in PowerPoint’s normal slide view.

Re-recording a single slide

Your audio recording is saved with your file so you can re-record or edit your presentation at any time.

Screen Recording

You can use screen recording to record anything on your computer. The recording can be included as part of a narrated PowerPoint video or can be saved as its own video. To record your computer screen, open the application or webpage that you want to show. You will be prompted to define the area/window you want to record. Click Record when you are ready to demonstrate. Audio is optional but it makes for a better recording. To pause or stop recording, hover your mouse over the top of the screen and press stop or pause.

Export to Video

To create an MP4 video, click Export to Video from the Mix tab. If you plan to upload to YouTube, choose Full HD. It may take some time to create your video. 

Here is a Mix I created that explains this whole process:

Over the past year, I’ve heard from a variety of people across the organization that they’d love to hear how others are using technology in their Extension education work. So we’ve created a space to do just that!

Extension T.E.C.C., Technology in Education Coffee with Colleagues, is a new, informal network of U of MN Extension professionals working in technology-enhanced education, online learning, and hybrid/blended teaching. The goal is to build cross-center connections that allow for the sharing of information and ideas. It’s a safe place to share your interests and frustrations. Get inspired, or offer a suggestion.

Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy an informal check-in with your colleagues exploring Ed Tech opportunities during our six gatherings a year beginning August 1, 2016. Volunteer to share about your work (the successes AND challenges) and suggest topics you’re interested in learning more about. Attend in-person when you’re on campus or remotely when you’re not. Between meetings, post an update or question in the Google+ community. Learn more at
Podcast Episode 3. Weber Kettles are Really Big

Quick Bytes Live! Podcast

Episode 3: Weber Kettles are Really Big

(recorded July 15, 2016)
Amy and Alison talk about the new Extension Guide to Podcasting, Two-factor authentication, and do a quick App Roundup of good roadtripping apps.

Links from this episode:

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graphic: How to podcast a guide for Extension

As you may have read in a previous post, I love podcasts. But getting started can be a bit confusing!

That's why we wrote the How to Podcast Guide for Extension with very detailed, step-by-step instructions and tips, including pictures!

Click for how to guide google doc

Call to Action: Podcasting for Extension

If Extension wants to be heard among social learning networks, we need to breathe life into our content delivery.
 This may all seem a bit complicated (five pages of instructions!), so why should you bother?

Podcasts are a unique and special opportunity to connect us, content creators, with our audiences. Podcasts add a human voice and authenticity to our education that is absolutely essential in today’s content marketplace. A white paper, publication, or even blog post cannot compete with many of the ways audiences are receiving information in today’s connected world. If Extension wants to be heard among the social network learning that is preferred by today’s content consumers, we need to breathe life into our content delivery.

Additionally, podcasting reaches our audiences during times when they are interested and open to being educated, entertained, and connected with. Podcasts connect for longer and more often than almost any other delivery format, including videos, online courses, newsletters, and Twitter.

For these reasons, podcasting should be a critical component of any Extension program’s outreach strategy. The setup described here may seem lengthy due to its detail, but the recurring task of recording, editing, and uploading can be as minimal as you’d like to make it. Twenty-one percent of Americans are inviting you to have a conversation with them by listening to podcasts. We need to be ready to join that conversation!

What do you think, is podcasting for you? Or could it be in the future?

Have you ever walked into a conference room, only to find out that someone else's meeting is already happening? You look at them. They look at you. Everybody is surprised, and a little uncomfortable. "What are you doing here?!"

You would think online meetings would mean the end of those awkward moments. And you would be wrong. As more and more people are using Google Video Calls (also known as Hangouts) it is happening in video calls too. The first time it happened to me, two Extension meetings collided, nobody knew what was going on, but we figured out a way forward. The second time it happened to me, I interrupted a meeting elsewhere on campus. Based on the look on the faces of the people whose meeting I walked in on, I was clearly an unexpected and unwelcome guest. But I knew what was happening, why it happened, and what to do about it. And now I'm blogging so you know what to do if it happens to you.

Creating a video call is a lot like reserving a conference room, except there is nothing that prevents someone else from also reserving your room, and there is no lock on the door. Which means that if you and I both pick the same name for our video call, we may unwittingly end up in the same room. 

That is what happened to me. Twice. Because I created my video calls in my calendar, and let Google pick the name for me. (I could have changed it. I didn't know why I might want to.) What name it picks goes like this:
  • If there is one person invited to the event: The user ID of the person in the meeting (generally the person creating the meeting)
  • If there are two people invited to the event: The user IDs of both people, separated by a hyphen
  • If there are three or more people invited to the event: As many whole words as it can grab with the first 15 characters of the meeting subject

Let's say I named a meeting "Extension Technology Meeting," you name yours "Extension Program Discussion," and a colleague names a meeting "Extension Facilitation." Google would name all of our calls "extension." If our events are at the same time, we will all end up on the same video call. But at least we know each other and have a good laugh. I wasn't so lucky with the video call named "SalesForce." I'm pretty sure I interrupted an important marketing discussion. 

So, what should you do?
  • Look at the name of your video calls. If it is something like "program" or "extension" change it to something else to avoid conflicts.
  • If you're having a large or high profile video call, pick a unique name. 
  • If you find yourself interrupting someone else's video call, leave their call and change the name of your video call. You can edit the name in your event, and send an update to all attendees.
  • If someone interrupts your call, explain this phenomenon to them, and suggest they rename their call. You were there first!
Why does this problem even exist? Because there's more to video calls than calendar events. While most video calls are created and joined by clicking on the call's name in an event, you can also create or join video calls by going to and by using the Hangouts App on your mobile device - both let you enter the name of the call you'd like to create or join. There's no way to know whether someone was invited. I very well may be using my iPhone to join the video call you linked to from your event. Because I'm a nerd like that.