Recently I took up the task of converting our department’s various paper forms to digital. Not only were we collecting a lot of paper over the years with our various forms, but we were duplicating our paperwork in a Google Spreadsheet manually, which led to data inconsistencies and significantly delayed returns of equipment. These forms included:
A student technology loan form
An employee technology loan form
A technology usage form for equipment dedicated to employees and departments each year
A technology work authorization form for granting permission to work on students’ and teachers’ personal technology
A data recovery acknowledgement form
I was looking to accomplish the following:
Eliminate our paper completely. We had a filing cabinet full of completed forms in differing sorting arrangements that made them difficult to find and extremely difficult to cross reference all the things different people had checked out or loaned to them.
More clearly define and smooth the process. In the case of student long-term technology loans (more than 1 month), our department requires student advisors to OK the loan before allowing students to check out equipment. Whether a student walked in on their own or their advisor sent in a Helpdesk ticket, the paper forms made the process clumsy by requiring advisors to visit our office to sign off on the loan.
Allow forms to be completed both within and outside our office. While the nature of digital forms makes them easy to share and distribute, I wanted these to be able to be completed on any device.
Store all form submissions in one place. This would make it much easier to keep track of all form submissions.
Allow forms to be resubmitted. Because we would be shifting the responsibility of completing these forms to our users, there was a chance a form could be completed incorrectly. For example, a student could indicate they were checking out a laptop but forget to include the power adapter. We needed to be able to make these changes such that it changed both in the form and the central response repository.
Have an automated way of creating a calendar event for the due date of technology loans. This would help us ensure technology was returned to us on time and serve as a reminder if it hadn’t.
Have a user-friendly form landing page. When forms were completed on one of our department devices, I wanted to have a clean and clear way for our users to access all our forms.
Ultimately I developed a solution using Google Forms and Google Spreadsheets and one which I’m pleased with. The main components are listed below:
A Google Form for each of our existing forms
A single Google Spreadsheet with each Google Form linked to a separate sheet
A script attached to the Google Spreadsheet for tracking the Edit URL of each Google Form submission (more on this in a bit)
An HTML landing page for a clean and user-friendly way of accessing the forms in our office
Alternatively, a Google Site would work perfectly well
In part 2 of “Moving Our Technology Paper Forms to Google Forms“, I covered the process for linking the forms to a single spreadsheet, organizing and protecting the spreadsheet, and creating a Google Script to collect the Edit URL for each form submission.
This post covers the process of creating our HTML landing page for our various forms and getting this on several Android devices and a public computer we had available for this purpose. I also reflect a bit on our deployment.
Two years ago, I invested in the Synology 1815+ (8-bay) NAS to serve as my digital media library, primary computer backup, and some of my Docker container testing. Sadly, over the winter holiday after a brief loss of heat in my apartment it died unexpectedly. RIP.
Thankfully I was able to get the unit replaced fairly quickly and seamlessly transfer my drives from my old 1815+ system to the new one without any data, setting, or configuration loss.
I also bought 2 x 6TB Western Digital Reds to replace two of my existing 3TB Reds and migrating those drives was also pretty painless.
See below the jump for an overview of this process.