Brainstorm Ideas and Vote on Them in a Google Form

Brainstorming is an essential process to many projects. How do you decide on which brainstorm idea to go with? Some people don’t feel comfortable speaking up in opposition or some people feel compelled to go along with the crowd. A Google Form can help with this process, but it can be time consuming to make the Form.

Add-on For Google Sheets

I have created an Add-on for Google Sheets that allows you to set a timer for brainstorming and then cuts off edit access at the end of the timer. The Add-on then creates a Google Form to allow for voting on the brainstormed ideas. Then, if you want, you can create a final Form based on the top vote getters.

Not Submitted to Google

As with most of my Add-ons I code for teachers, I have not (and probably will not) submitted it to Google for review. It’s a very time consuming and frustrating process. Approval by Google adds the Add-on to the G Suite Marketplace for everyone to access, however most of my applications are niche for teachers and don’t really need to be in a public marketplace anyway. Did I mention it’s time consuming and frustrating? Anyway…

When using the Add-on you will get an approval screen that let’s you know the Add-on was NOT reviewed by anyone at Google…. Because I did not ask them to.

Because my code changes the sharing permissions of the spreadsheet to VIEW, EDIT, or PRIVATE I have to select that I am using Google Drive which shows the scary warning about Drive access. You are only authorizing YOURSELF access your Drive and more specifically only to your copy of the spreadsheet. You may need to click on “Advanced” and “Unsafe” (it is safe, they are just letting you know no one at Google has looked at it) to authorize the Add-on.

The Sidebar

The menu options and sidebar allow you to set up the brainstorming and voting experience.

View Only

When you make a copy of the spreadsheet, it is by default private. If you want to change the settings to View only, click the button or use the Share button on the spreadsheet. This is only necessary if you want to get everyone onto the spreadsheet in advance without providing edit access.

Google Classroom users, add the spreadsheet to an assignment as “Students can view file.” You can also add it to an announcement as the default is view access.

Set Timer

Clicking “Set Timer” prompts you for how long you want to allow students to brainstorm. It will change the access to the document to “Anyone with the link can edit.” Students will need to refresh if they already have the spreadsheet open.

A sheet is added which only has one column to allow students to brainstorm their ideas into only one column. It does not matter if there is a lot of blank cells in the column. Students can scroll down and find a spot in the column to put in as many ideas as they can think of.

Times Up

When the time is up, the spreadsheet reverts back to view only status. Students are locked out of editing. The column automatically sorts. A checkbox for each brainstorm is added. A checkbox for blank cells not used is also added, but these will not affect your creation of the voting Form.

Uncheck the options that are duplicates or that you do not want voted on.

Voting Form

Choosing “Voting Form” in the menu creates a Google Form with “Yes” “No” multiple choice options for each of the brainstorms that are checked. No need to uncheck all the blank options, they are ignored.

Share the link to the Google Form with the students. The link populates in the spreadsheet. If students still have view access to the spreadsheet they can click on the link to open the voting Form. View the results and the summary charts in the Google Form.

Final Form

You may not need this option. After the voting on the brainstorms has occurred choose “Final Form.” You will be prompted for how many of the top brainstorms will be added to the new Form. The votes will be counted and those that have the most will be added to a new Google Form.

Unlike the voting Form, this Form is open response. Edit the Form to change the questions types into a scale, paragraph answer, multiple choice, etc…

Make Private

The Form responses automatically are created within this spreadsheet. This way you don’t have documents all over the place to try to find your data. However, you may not want students to have access to this information. Click “Make Private” to set the sharing permissions on the spreadsheet back to private. Note that if you have shared explicitly with any collaborators they will still have editing access. If you shared the voting tool through Google Classroom the students will still have the ability to view the document since the student group is implicitly shared on the spreadsheet. Go to the advanced options in sharing to remove Google Classroom groups or other collaborators.

Install toTabs

I did go through the process of having Google Approve my toTabs Add-on. This allows you to filter your Google Form data into individual sheets in the spreadsheet. It collects NO USER DATA. Ask your site Apps admin to install to the domain.

Install TemplateTab

I have also been able to get the Add-on TemplateTab approved by Google. This takes a roster of your students and copies a graphic organizer for each student within the same spreadsheet. Each student name is on the spreadsheet tabs for students to find. This is one of my all time favorite teaching tools, I use it more often than anything else. This also collects NO USER DATA.

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