Based on the popularity of Google Forms among educators, it came as no surprise when Microsoft introduced a similar (and almost identical) survey tool known simply as “Microsoft Forms” for their Office 365 Education Customers. I’m a huge fan of Google Forms, and always found them extremely useful in many ways, so naturally I was curious to try Microsoft’s offering.
On its website, Microsoft proudly announced that creating Forms was a result of listening to teachers who requested “an assessment solution that will save them time, help differentiate instruction for all students and provide quiz takers with real-time personalized feedback.”
Microsoft Forms is a much needed improvement over the clunky and inflexible Excel Survey, which has previously been the only “Forms-like” tool for Office 365 educators. So for that, Microsoft should be commended for listening to the feedback from their customer base. In Forms, they have created a quick and simple tool for basic assessment. There’s also a nice option to for question branching. However when comparing side-by-side with Google Forms, there is no comparison. Google’s product is superior in just about every way and holds a huge advantage. Below are five reasons why:
Limited Question types… Unlike an Excel Survey, with Forms there’s some different options for creating question types (multiple choice, short answer, rating), and that’s definitely a good thing. But these options greatly pale in comparison to what’s available in Google. What makes Google Forms so helpful for educators is their flexibility – they can be used in many different ways ranging from a warm-up exercise, to a Unit Test, to a parent conference sign-up form. The greater variety of question types make this possible. You can do some of these activities with Microsoft Forms, but the lack of question types is limiting in comparison.
Little Custimoziation – Want to customize your form to make it look more engaging? Microsoft gives you the option to choose from 8 colors or to choose from one of 8 canned themes and that’s all. Google allows you to change the colors, select from a large selection of headers, and even allows you to upload one of your own. You also have the ability to change the look of the Form you create by adding a photo, video, or text paragraph directly within the body of the form – this option doesn’t exist with Microsoft and it greatly allows a user to change the look of their form.
Very Weak Sharing – So you create your form…what happens with the data? Well as the teacher you can see responses in the “Responses” tab. To their credit, Microsoft does a decent job of displaying both individual and question data in real-time inside. But what happens if you want to share your form with a colleague outside of your room so that they can review the data too? That’s easy – you simply can’t! The only option available would be to locally download the results onto an Excel File (an actual file – not Excel Online) and then email them the info. Of course, more responses could still come in, which could make the data on that file outdated before you even hit “send.” With Google Forms you can easily add a collaborator, so that they can view real-time data, and have access to the spreadsheet of results.
Add On’s. Frequent Google Forms users know just how awesome Add-on’s are. Flubaroo. Choice Eliminator. Need I say more? There’s no Add-on’s or apps that work with Microsoft Forms. If Microsoft is serious about continuing to developing Forms as a useful for teachers, this is one area that should definitely be looked in.
Collaboration OK so you have this awesome Microsoft Form and you want to share it with colleague. How do you do it? Simple. You don’t. It’s impossible for me to take a Form that I created and share it with a colleague to use in their classroom. In my opinion, here’s where the Forms team really missed their mark. If Forms are to be used as quizzes and assessment, the majority of teachers use common assessments for grade levels/subject areas. Plus most teachers are open to sharing with colleagues. Releasing Forms without including this feature is a huge oversight.
As stated above, I feel that Forms is a definite upgrade from Excel Surveys and fits a much needed role for programs within the Office 365 Suite (aka OneDrive for Business). However I really think that the development team left off some obvious features, and for a product that was designed specifically to make a teacher’s life easier.
Also maybe it’s just me, but you can’t help but feel that the programs comes off as Microsoft’s version of Google Forms. There’s a similar interface, similar operation, identical tabs (questions, responses) and oh yeah….the same exact name!
My hope is that instead of creating a product that simply mirrors what Google Forms does, Microsoft can make upgrades that will truly make Forms a much more useful and multi-purpose tool for educators.