I constantly hear feedback from people needing an easy way to make and collect forms. The funny thing is, all these people have Acrobat XI, which allows them to use FormsCentral, an essential tool for collecting data and distributing surveys.
FormsCentral is kind of the hidden gem associated with Acrobat XI. It allows you to easily create forms by just clicking and designing, dragging and dropping, and using basic menus you know from any word processing program. Let me tell you a few key things in FormsCentral that you could use in your classroom, office, or department and make your life easier. No more collecting paper and tallying them up.
1. Easy to build. You simply can start with a template. You can easily add your own header image. You click a plus (+) sign to add a new field. You check a box if you want it required. How much easier could it get? There is no code involved.
2. Advanced options. Sending email notifications and customize that. You need to collect payments? FC works with PayPal. FormsCentral can also redirect after you submit the form. Or even closed messages can be fully customized. “Advanced” really doesn’t apply to this as far as difficulty though. It’s all for efficiency.
3. Save as PDF form. Need to send to someone in a PDF and not in a web browser? Just click File–>Save as PDF and FormsCentral will build an Acrobat form for you. FormsCentral can automatically collect responses from PDFs as well!
4. Spreadsheet results / Reports. (figures 1/2) This is the heart of FormsCentral. The ability to see results in a very familiar-looking spreadsheet and being able to save to PDF or Excel is huge for the ability to take the results and the data outside of FormsCentral. You can even customize a summary report and show off the charts in a fun way or even export each chart as a file. (see screenshots below)
If you haven’t hopped in the driver seat and given FormsCentral a test drive, now is the time to try it. As educators, we could all use this to learn more about our departments, classes, and students. It’s a little tool with a lot of power for education and could save tons of time and give you an insight into your institution.
We are seeing a lot of growth with our Digital Publishing Suite in education. Its uses are endless, really. Every time I talk to a different school, people are coming up with new ways they want to use DPS, and I find that fascinating. It’s a new frontier. The way we thought about the tablet is growing exponentially because people are finding unique ways to create interactive and highly engaging content through DPS.
I wanted to share a little thing I am working on with a few schools. Have you ever thought of just flat out eliminating textbooks?
No, I don’t mean not having textbooks at all. I mean trading in the paper and the $100+ cost per copy for a tablet version that could play videos and slideshows, provide quizzes and assessments, link out to external resources, and so much more. The professor could actually build and write his or her OWN textbook for the class. Think about it as a map for the entire course. It would be completely tailored to the professor’s type of instruction and provide a much more comprehensive and targeted guide for the student.
A few schools have already started this new interactive learning method, and we expect more and more to join the crowd. So how does this provide benefits?
- It saves students (and schools) money. The costs of textbooks for a college course could be more than $500 per quarter/semester. If schools want to charge students for the textbook, they can through Digital Publishing Suite. Think of all the paper saved from printing costs (i.e. whitepapers, worksheets, course packets) as well.
- Send feedback to the professor. ”How was my class today?” “What would help you learn the material easier?” All of this could be sent through a form within the DPS folio and sent anonymously. Think of the interaction!
- Speaking of feedback, you can give quizzes through the app. This would be helpful for professors to make sure their students are actually doing the reading.
- More interactivity – it’s all in one place. You can make DPS your repository of articles, journals entries, videos, links, infographics, and photos. Many students learn through visual media, like videos and photos. A professor could create a course pack or a textbook that suits his/her individual class, rather than adjusting to a textbook curriculum. Kids are used to connecting through tablets and phones. Use them to your advantage.
- Distribute to only the students who need it. With DPS, you can have a student sign-in and his/her library will be populated with the classes he/she is enrolled in.
There is obviously some work that needs to be done to build these textbooks, I realize that. However, each university has many students who are model InDesign users, who can help organize, build, package, and design these textbooks for the instructor, all while learning new tools and becoming more comfortable as a designer. It’s even something that could be used on that student’s resume. Utilize and leverage the enthusiastic students at your school. At the same time, we provide many learning resources through the Adobe Education Exchange and the Adobe Creative Cloud to get you started on a simple design, and then the publishing part is a piece of cake. (I recommend downloading the DPS Tips app by DPS evangelist Bob Bringhurst on the iTunes Store.)
The key here is the interactivity. You don’t get that with print. I urge you to try it out. Download the DPS Tips app, download the Adobe Content Viewer, and get started in digital publishing, even just to see how it might work for your class or school. Learning is evolving and tablets are here. Educators need to embrace them as a way to put knowledge in the hands of our future.
First on behalf of all of the Adobe Education Solution Consultants (formally Solution Engineers) who contribute to this blog a big and sincere Thank You for stopping by and learning about Adobe tools and technologies from us. We are all honored to have you here reading our post, posting comments and more.
Second I wanted to invite you to tell us how we’re doing here as authors and at the same time introduce you to a brand new online based tool we recently announced and made live called Adobe FormsCentral. Adobe FormsCentral is a new online service that lets you easily and quickly create and distribute online forms and surveys – including analyzing the results.
I’m really excited about FormsCentral because I believe powerful tools do not have to be complicated to get a job well done. In fact in my humble opinion powerful tools that are easy to use are the true mark of outstanding software craftsmanship. FormsCentral is powerful yet super easy to use too. That’s why to solicit your feedback here on our blog to help us all do a better job for you I used FormsCentral to create a quick and easy feedback form to have you tell us what future topics you’d like us to consider blogging about, get suggest from you on other ways we can improve the blog and continue to serve you better.
Note the link below will take you to a super short FormsCentral form that took me less than half an hour to design, test and distribute right here in this blog post. Now you may be thinking I have days and days of experience in FormsCentral to have been able to do this in half an hour – nope. The truth is I played around with FormsCentral for about one hour total and was creating nice looking forms within that hour and even posting them online!
You might also be wondering that this new tool cost a pretty penny. I’m happy to inform you there are two affordable subscriptions offered for FormsCentral and a third which is free!
To give the Adobe Education Technologies bloggers some feedback on the blog please click here; time to fill out the form is about three minutes or less.
To get started with FormsCentral click here to open a FormsCentral Account.
Happy FormsCentral form making!
Richard John Jenkins