BEST PRACTICES: Online Form Builder
Face it, every school runs on paper, but those districts daring enough to try to replace paperwork with online forms have had to jump among several different programs to make it work. Designing a form, building a database behind it, figuring out how to get it online and making it secure enough for the real world all require separate and often contradictory programs and services. With FormStack, schools can set up everything from job applications and class registration to parental surveys and setting up extracurricular activities with a single online service.
With the power to create a variety of forms from the simple to the complicated, FormSpring can change how a school or district works, and do it with less paper wasted, saving money and a few trees along the way. Take the City of Dublin, Ohio Schools as an example. The district uses FormSpring for its 19 schools, including setting up job training for teachers and registering students for a summer job fair. According to Doug Baker, the district’s Coordinator of Public Information, FormSpring has saved the district a lot of money and allowed it to work quicker. “It takes about 2-days to create a paper form, print it and distribute,” he says. “With FormSpring I can do it in about 15 minutes.”
In addition to pre-built forms for typical activities, like for parent contact info, you can start with a blank page and custom design your own. The key is that you don’t need to be a programmer to do it. Just drop in fields for things like name, email address and so on. Then, you save it and copy a link to send it out as an email or embed it onto the schools Web site. At any time, you can log on to see individual responses or a summary of the data.
The service has recently added the ability to build charts and graphs of results internally, so you don’t have to drop the data into Excel to see it visually. Plus, FormSpring now allows users to save items as .pdf Acrobat files. The service can be tried out for free but schools will probably want to get the Business version, which provides the ability to create 100 different forms with unlimited fields and 2GB of online storage costs $60 a month. An unlimited version of FormSpring costs $160 a month. The only thing left is what to do with all those old file cabinets that aren’t needed anymore.
Editor's note: FormSpring has been renamed FormStack.