In April, Microsoft released a new feature in Office 365 called Microsoft Forms. This product was designed specifically for the education market. Now, commercial customers with a valid Office 365 account can make use of this technology. In this article and associated videos, I will walk you through the core features of the product. As always, this article contains more content than the videos, so please read on.
What is Microsoft Forms?
Whether you are a corporation looking to get employee feedback or a marketer wanting to collect customer information, the best way to do this is to create a form. If you are an educator you may want to verify your students are learning everything you teach, so you might create quizzes.
While a form and a quiz are pretty much the same things, there are some subtle differences. For example, when someone responds to a form, you simply collect the data. When someone responds to a quiz, you are probably going to grade it, and maybe even let the respondent see their grade after the fact.
Microsoft Forms was created to allow users to create forms or quizzes. You can only do this with a supported Office 365 plan, and you define the forms using a visual editor that is so easy to use, I dare say anyone can do it.
If you have been in business for more than a few weeks, you already know it is hard getting feedback from people, whether they are customers or your own employees. Inside your company, HR teams are continually sending out employee satisfaction surveys, the IT department requires you to fill out a form before they can provide support, and meeting organizers send out lunch order forms.
Outside your organization, you may want to survey your customers to learn how they use your product or ask them to fill out a form so they can enter to win a prize.
The purpose of forms is to allow you to collect data from one or thousands of people to review and analyze the responses.
If you have ever taken a test or applied for a driver’s license, you have taken something similar to what Microsoft terms a Quiz. When you create a quiz, you create a form. With every question you ask, you can add a rating to it. Think of a teacher creating a test for their students. If that test has 10 questions, then each question can be worth a certain number of points, usually (in the U.S., anyway) adding up to 100.
With quizzes, you can assign a grade to each question. When the quiz-taker responds, you can determine how many points you wish to provide.
For example, let’s say you ask the following question in a Microsoft Quiz:
How many apples are in a bushel? (worth 10 points)
In this case, the student is asked to type an answer, so let’s say they answer:
When the teacher reviews the response, they can give a score for each answer. In this case, the teacher might give the student
7 points out of the possible 10.
The teacher can also add comments to every question, so the student understands their final grade. For example, the teacher can add a comment saying:
I expected a better answer to this. Is it exactly 125 apples? How many pounds of apples?
After the teacher grades the response, they can post it. The act of posting allows the student to go back to the original form’s link and see their grade. If the teacher does not post the response, the student cannot see the grade. Also, it is up to the teacher to inform the students when their grade has been posted. I was somewhat frustrated by this, but some teachers pointed out that if you let the students see their scores immediately, they might share it with other students. The teacher can also post a group of quizzes, so let’s say the students have to turn in their work by end of day Monday. The teacher can grade all the quizzes Tuesday and then post all the grades at once.
Preview note: Microsoft Forms is still in preview (beta), so there are some issues with the product. For example, there are times when the student cannot see their scores. That said, the teacher can always pull up the score, but do not rely on Microsoft Forms displaying grades to students all the time.
As you can see in the following image, responses are real-time and update automatically as people submit their forms or quiz answers.
Another nice feature is the ability to download a full copy of all the responses in an Excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is just rows and columns of data, so if you want any fancy reports, you will have to build them yourself.
While I do not discuss this in the videos, it does look like Microsoft plans to offer automation by way of Microsoft Flow. Using Microsoft Flow (another feature of some Office 365 plans), you can create a basic workflow that triggers after a particular form is submitted. I took a look at the functionality and it still has a way to go, but conceivably, you could do things like sending an email after the respondent has submitted the form, add the respondent as a contact, and things of that nature.