Using Google Forms and Cell Phones to Conduct Education Survey in Rural Kenya

By May 17, 2010 Education 2 Comments

For much of April our Foundation Team was on home leave, leaving the project here in Kuria in the capable hands of our Kenyan staff. I went over the deliverables for the month with my team feeling a little nervous because of the heavy use of technology during my time away (so many things can go wrong with technology), and feeling a bit guilty because I thought I may have given the team too much to do on a daily basis. Better to expect more than less I reasoned. Mixed with my nervousness and guilt was confidence because I knew we had prepared a lot together and our team is highly intelligent and very hard working. Such a combination will lead to positive results more often than not.

The team was tasked with performing research to prepare for two of our potential programs – school sponsorship and the vocation training center. This research would require our Education Coordinators (EC) to go around and interview several groups of people. I had created Google forms that the team would be able to access and input responses directly into their phones during the interviews. It was a new and advanced experience and would prove the value of the hard work and innovation our research officer, David Carreon, had performed during these past few months. My last video blog described how we were going to start this process and our team did exactly that during the month of April.

There were seven different Google forms with many sets of questions depending on the group being interviewed ranging from four questions to more than twenty. Our team was able to locate the specific group, for example, parents of the school we are looking to sponsor or experts in technical skills we may want to teach, and input answers into the phones. Once the responses are submitted the data automatically pop up as a Google document in the form of a spreadsheet that can be manipulated and analyzed. You can create charts or sort the data or anything else you may want to do with it. When I opened the documents on my computer upon my return I was more than pleased with all the data that had appeared. The last time we did research, our team filled out 32 surveys on paper about the new schools we wanted to work with as we scaled. It then took me a couple of days to input the data into a spreadsheet. With this new method of collecting information, I did not have to spend days or in this case probably weeks doing data entry. The 709 separate interviews the team did during the month of April all appeared in the six different Google documents. Simply amazing. Imagine combing through 709 questionnaires and entering every response into a spreadsheet. Not only were we able to save a tremendous amount of time but we saved on using all that paper.

I printed out the 709 responses for our team and they were happy to see that all their work during the month actually had tangible results. We are currently in the midst of analyzing the data so that it can help us make a decision on what school to sponsor and how we are going to move forward with our vocation center. After all, we did not want to use technology just for the novelty of it but as a tool to make our work here more efficient and effective. Indeed, as a first time user of this technology, it was a huge success.

 

About Thomas Hong

Leadership Program Director — Thomas has worked in education and leadership development in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Mongolia and Uzbekistan. He holds a B.A. in Economics and master’s degree in teaching from the University of Virginia and an MBA in international organizations from the University of Geneva.

2 Comments

  • davidcarreon says:

    Great article, Thomas! I’m glad that the phones are working out for your team. They learned ridiculously fast!

  • Esther Kim says:

    Wow, Thomas! Your team sounds like a really bright group of men and women! Thanks for the article and a peak into your lives over there.

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