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MAY 25, 2010


FInally, a year after I finished my sabbatical, I've started my report/summary. Because I'm (obviously) good at procrastination, about a month ago I sent in a proposal to a design education conference based on an interesting question that came up during that sabbatical year (May 2008-09).

Well, the paper got accepted for presentation at the University and College Designers Association (UCDA) Design Education Summit in Lawrence, Kansas.

Now I have a week to pull together facts, ideas and comments gathered via a set of online surveys and a month-long visit to eight schools in different parts of the country.

Area chart of survey responsesI started by creating a pair of online surveys, Teaching Design and Learning Design using the website SurveyMonkey.com. 150 teachers and 300 students responded, giving me a decent sample.

Then there was the three-and-a-half week train trip to California and back, with stops at schools in four states. Talking with students and teachers a new question arose: why did teachers most frequently recommend student learn software from books when students pretty much don't read books anymore?

To shed more light on this question I launched another short survey, What's Your Media Diet? Now I'm analyzing the results. I've invested in SurveyMonkey's $20/month upgrade for a Professional account because of the many options it offers when it comes to slicing and dicing the data.

Unfortunately as I worked with the numbers today I realized that I'd created a problem by having some people fill out a paper version of the survey. I thought I'd manually enter their answers by filling out the online survey as many times as necessary. Nope. Apparently you can only enter one response per computer.

I spent the next hour trying to create a Google Spreadsheet and data-entry form that would duplicate the SurveyMonkey version. I figured this way I could chart the same info in both and look at them side-by-side. After my fourth or fifth attempt I realized that Google wasn't going to give me the sorting options I needed. In desperation I emailed Customer Service at SurveyMonkey and explained my dilemma. In dramatic terms: Help!

To my surprise, I got a response within two hours. To my delight, the answer was very easy: change a setting or two on the survey collector and I can add all the responses I want.

Thanks, SurveyMonkey. Ya done good.


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MAY 2010