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Forms Smackdown: Google vs Microsoft (Updated 1/25/17)

forms
Written by Miguel Guhlin

The growth and use of online forms to gather and disseminate data has reached K-12 schools. But which form, Google or Microsoft, offers the most features?

Collecting data via online forms has never been easier. New web-based form tools have revolutionized how we gather and analyze data, making arcane database-backed web tools obsolete.

Even the next generation of database-backed web tools (e.g. Airtable, Obvibase, more solutions) find themselves catering to power users, rather than teachers and students. These descendants of venerable desktop database tools (e.g. Filemaker Pro, Microsoft Access, Alpha IV, Paradox) require some knowledge of databases and how they work. Google Forms and Microsoft Forms drop database complexity and make it easier for K-12 and adult learners to focus on the task rather than the method.

Practical Uses of Forms in K-12 Schools

The uses of forms to support teaching, learning and leading are legion. While you can see 81 Interesting Ways to Use Forms in the Classroom, here are a few of my favorite uses:

  • Gather data about a particular phenomena or event and then use the data for analysis by staff and/or students.
  • Conduct climate surveys to get insights into staff perspectives about the work place.
  • Enable participants to craft self-assessments for appraisal or growth purposes.
  • Get insights from staff/students/community into home technology and/or social media use.
  • Employ forms for formative assessment activities, such as exit tickets.
  • Set up a help desk system to track requests for support.

You can find even more uses online in these TCEA TechNotes articles on the use of forms. Remember, you can easily adapt the uses of forms across the tools available. Find the one that works best in your environment (e.g. Google or Office 365).

Are you a Texas educator using Office 365 in your District? Join the free, open to members and non-members TCEA Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Facebook group!

Feature Comparison

Both Microsoft and Google Forms have a wealth of features. Let’s explore some of those features, keeping in mind that they are rapidly changing.

Feature Microsoft Forms
msforms
Google Forms
msforms
Web link View Microsoft Forms View Google Forms
Account required Free Office 365 account or School Office 365 account Personal Google account^ or Google Suites for Education account
Multiple question types Includes:

  • Choice (multiple choice and checkboxes)
  • Quiz
  • Text (short and long answer)
  • Rating (linear scale and star choice up to 10)
  • Date
Includes:

  • Choice (multiple choice and checkboxes)
  • Multiple choice grid
  • Quiz
  • Text (short and long answer)
  • Rating (linear scale and star choice up to 10)
  • Date
  • Time
  • File upload^
Embed media such as videos/images
  • Images
  • YouTube
  • Images
  • YouTube
Add subtitle description Yes Yes^
Option to shuffle responses Yes Yes for any questions containing multiple responses^
Add question to quiz computation Yes, add any question to a quiz Yes, create a self-grading quiz
Add other option to available responses Yes Yes
Organize form elements in sections No Yes
Adjust theme to reflect color of choice or available background image Yes Yes, and includes option to insert one’s own image
Preview form using built-in desktop or mobile Yes No, but features responsive web design
Re-order questions at any time Yes, with up/down arrows Yes, drag-and-drop
Copy/duplicate question Yes Yes
Delete or trash question Yes Yes
Organize question into multiple pages No Yes, insert page breaks after questions
Branching responses Yes, dependent upon response chosen Yes, with the ability to send to a different page.
Share form online Yes, includes the following:

  • Link provided for copying
  • Embed into OneNote Notebook Page
  • Email link
  • QR code download
  • Web page embedding
Yes, includes the following:

  • Link provided for copying
  • Share form link via email
  • Web page embedding
  • Social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) link sharing
Tracking form completion Yes, tracking is possible if user is required to login to access the form Yes, tracking is possible if user is required to login to access the form
Export results as a spreadsheet Yes, results can be exported to Excel sheet (and other formats from there) and saved for further analysis or placed online Yes, results can be exported in various formats
Form data at rest can be interacted with (Google Sheets tab is similar to an Excel Workbook sheet) No, form data can be printed or deleted but not create a live workbook sheet that can be used, interacted with on another sheet Yes, form data on one Google Sheets tab can be linked and interacted with another tab
Set start and end dates at specific times for when the form is open or closed for access Yes, by date and time No, form must be manually shut down to stop receiving responses. FormLimiter add-on can be enabled, however^.
When form is NOT accepting responses, create a custom message as to why Yes Yes^
Handling of individual or summary responses Yes, options to form creator include viewing, deleting, printing individual and/or summary responses. In summary view, responses are aggregated and appear with graphs when appropriate. Yes, options include viewing of individual and summary responses. Summary view includes aggregate results with graphs. Removing individual responses may require accessing the Google Sheet where Form responses are archived.
View average completion time for the form Yes No

^Special thanks to Eric Curts (@ericcurts; Ctrl-Alt-Achieve) for his feedback and corrections indicated with this symbol.

Update 01/26/2017: Microsoft Forms Enhancements

Microsoft Forms is in the process of rolling out enhancements, as reported by Brandon Cornwell (@CornwellEdTech; Tacoma, WA schools), that include the following NEW features not included in the chart above:

  1. Print summaries of MS Forms charts are now possible.
  2. Individual quizzes featuring student responses, scores and feedback are printable by the teacher.
  3. Extra credit points can now be alloted.
  4. Teachers can post scores, enabling students to to view their quiz score and obtain feedback.
  5. Students can be provided feedback regarding their form responses.
  6. Individual items can now be scored.
  7. Specific value formats (e.g. number) can now feature data entry restrictions.
  8. Math symbols and equation creator are available in quiz mode.
  9. Form creators are prompted as to whether Form or Quiz is planned.

Reflections

Microsoft Forms features have expanded (e.g. a recent addition is collaborative form editing, a feature Google Forms also enjoys) since a preview launch in the summer of 2016. In important ways, it has achieved parity with Google Forms. In other ways, it may have outpaced Google Forms. For educators in Office 365 districts, Microsoft Forms represents a fantastic tool. Given the prompt development of both products, the feature gap will not endure long!

 

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About the author

Miguel Guhlin

Director of Professional Development at TCEA
A former director of technology, Miguel brings a unique perspective to TCEA’s professional development team. He specializes in Microsoft’s educational products and has extensive instructional technology experience. A prolific writer, Miguel blogs at Around the Corner and for TCEA’s TechNotes Blog. Miguel earned both his Master’s degree in Bicultural/Bilingual Studies with an ESL Concentration and his B.A. at University of Texas, San Antonio.

Other blogs

  • […] Comparison of Google Forms with Microsoft Forms – an informative blogpost by Miguel Guhlin describing each of the features side-by-side of the form-creation tools from both Google and Microsoft. Each tool changes to meet the needs of users and it is great for educators that two tools are available. Ideas for use of forms in either tool can be readily used in either tool, so often the tool to choose will be determined by what platform a school has already been set up for teachers and learners to use with accounts in either tool. So if you see a form shared in one platform which inspires you to make use of the idea you will find it will work in both.  […]

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