Well . . . if you know me at all, you know that this post could go off in a multitude of directions. I'm obsessed with a lot of things, including coffee, caramel, scarves, learning, and lime-green. BUT this time, I'm obsessed with finding new ways to use "old" things.
I have had the idea to use Forms or Sheets for a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-Style activity for a long time, but didn't really have the motivation until recently. While in Las Vegas for a Google Summit last month, I got to watch a Demo Slam where Googlista Michelle Armstrong showed this very thing: she presented a story that took off in different directions depending upon which option the reader chose at the end of each page. Each "taker of the form" could potentially end up with an entirely different story, depending upon how he or she navigated through it. Interesting! This got me thinking . . .
So what if I conducted a Professional Development day in this manner? Goodness knows there are myriad options for things I could present on a given day, but how am I to know which of those is most relevant to my audience? Who says they want to learn what I have to share? I over-plan anyway, so why not use that to my advantage? That's just what I did:
Even though we only got through about 2/3 of what I had planned, I felt like this day was super-fun and extra-productive! Instead of "Ann the Leader" calling all the shots, the participants used Mimio Votes to select where we would go at the end of each adventure. When I guessed my group would want to learn more about Gmail Love, they actually chose Chrome Tips & Tricks. When I figured they'd opt for 10 Ways to Use YouTube, they decided they were more curious about Iteration in Drawings. Because the group directed the day, they were more engaged, more motivated, and more curious. They asked great questions, and experienced a lot of "OHHHHH!" moments that they may not have had if I had simply set the agenda and told them what we were doing.
I do have to admit, however, that this wasn't a typical throw-it-together type of agenda. This one took me a while; not because I didn't know what I was going to do, and not because I'm not savvy with Forms. The planning itself was the lengthiest part of the process. For any multi-page form you ever create, there is a bit of pre-planning that needs to take place before you ever dive in; think, "If this, then that." If my group gets through our morning tasks early, when will I give them the option for lunch? If the morning tasks take longer than I think, how will I direct them back to those opportunities after lunch? Speaking of lunch, what are we having for lunch? My advice for this endeavor, should I ever choose to pursue it again (which I will!): WRITE IT DOWN FIRST! Map it out on paper, and draw arrows from THIS to THAT. Make sure you don't forget anything because it's challenging to go back and fix it once you realize you've linked something wrong; one mistake usually leads to two, which in turn lead to two of their own.
After seeing the students of a brilliant 4th-grade teacher, Alissa Gray, use Google Slides to create multiple-choice math quizzes last year, I started to think about new and different ways to use Slides. Actually, I could have done the same PD agenda (described in the section above) with Slides instead of Forms, but remember: I'm obsessed with using old tools in new ways. This one was pure iteration for me. Here was my thought process:
About 45 minutes later (because I decided to make them pretty in Canva first), I had my 14 slides ready to start linking.
About 4 HOURS and 5 SECONDS later (see what I mean by obsessed), because I thought I was so stinking smart, I had my 41 slides - yes, that's right - FORTY-ONE SLIDES - ready to be tested. I shot the link over to my husband who could try it with an objective set of eyes, and it wasn't but a minute before he very politely informed me (after clicking outside of the transparent boxes on slide 3), that he didn't get to answer slide 3 because it automatically moved him onto . . . normal slide behavior . . . SLIDE 4. AAAAGGGHHHH!!!!!
SO. After many hours, and many iterations, I finally came up with THIS:
Perfect? No. If the user attempts to navigate with the arrow keys, they will still get all messed up and the experience will be ruined. BUT, if I make sure to tell them to JUST CLICK their way through . . . success. (If, by the way, you would like a copy of this ridiculous thing to pull apart and see how it was done, just click here!)
My point here is that I did choose my own adventure. My journey involved more than a little bit of cussing, along with healthy doses of coffee and caramel, BUT I learned a lot along the way: