A Cyberpilgrim's List of Web 2.0 Tools for Ministry

Archive for the ‘Poll & Survey’ Category

WuFoo

As someone who has worked as a consultant with churches to integrate technology into their ministries and now as the person responsible for communications within a parish, finding a good solution to online forms has been a difficult task. I’ve seen pdfs sent to recipients to be printed and returned; pdf forms that could be filled out online, but were difficult to construct; emails used to gather data and then used to create a spreadsheet; and templates for online forms that were limited and confusing. If this has been your experience too, then read on about a solution called WuFoo.

Owned by Survey Monkey, WuFoo allows you to build online forms that have a built-in, robust backend. The result is a browser based form, be it sign-up, availability, registration, survey, mailing list, contact, application, order, or invitation that is very user friendly and extremely easy to create.

WuFoo

You begin in the form builder where most of the work is drag and drop. Having a rough sketch of what you want the form to look like will help you in this process. With its automatic backend building, as you add rules for a cleaner look, WuFoo will let you know if something is not working. This is very helpful if you have a complex form such as an availability form with lots of dates or a new parishioner form. You can give it a customized look with its themes and the ability to include your parish logo. You cam embed the form with codes WuFoo provides. You can accept payments. WuFoo can even set up notifications to be sent by email to the user and anyone who needs to be informed once the form has been completed. Moreover, if you need to compile your data into a spreadsheet, WuFoo allows you to import everything into an Excel document all at once.

So if I’m telling you about this tool, it is supposed to be free. The trial of three forms is free. To go beyond that, there is a monthly/annual fee. For most churches, you are looking at $15 – $30 a month depending on the choice of plan. What you will save in paper and labor alone will offset the cost. The parish I work at started using WuFoo less than a year ago. Currently we have forms for new parishioner registration, cantor and musician availability, lector availability, server availability, facility/room requests, IT service requests, and vacation/personal time requests. We have plans to continue to grow our use including registration for our intergenerational faith formation program.

If you are looking for a one-stop site to meet all of your online form building needs, give WuFoo a try!

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GoToMeeting

Tool: GoToMeeting

How many of us in ministry have had trouble scheduling meetings because of conflicting calendars, had to miss meetings because of personal conflicts, or had meetings cancelled because of bad weather? Of course, the answer is all of us, so what can we do about it? One solution is GoToMeeting. GoToMeeting is a web conferencing tool that allows you to host an online meeting with up to 25 people. The company also has an additional product called GoToWebinar that allows you create your own webinar for up to 1,000 people. The convenient aspect to this setup is you can attend a meeting or webinar not only from your computer but also from a tablet or smartphone.

Curious to explore the GoToMeeting experience? They allow you to have a 30 day free trial. After that, there is a fee to host meetings or webinars, but the cost can be offset by savings in utilities and supplies you might normally need to pay for to prepare for a face to face meeting. Meeting participants attend for free and do not have to join anything. Once you schedule a meeting, an email is sent out to participants with a link to join the meeting at its designated day and time. All they have to do is click the link, enter the provided code and their email address for verification, and voila! They are ready to go. Watch this video to see GoToMeeting in action.

Some of the main features that GoToMeeting provides are as follows:

  • a video option to see people’s faces
  • on screen texting to attendees
  • the ability to show the screen of the presenter to all participants
  • the ability to switch presenters during the meeting
  • sharing of keyboard and mouse control with other attendees
  • the capability for recording the meeting or webinar for other people to view later

So how can web conferencing help in ministry? First and foremost with committee meetings. As previously stated, we all have had issues scheduling a meeting or had to miss one due to a last minute conflict or had bad weather cancel a meeting. As long as you have a laptop and Internet access, these hurdles can be overcome. A few months ago, for example, my wife’s car was in the shop and she needed a ride to the doctor’s office for a check-up. I had a meeting scheduled for 15 minutes before her appointment. I was able to drop her off and sit in the parking lot and attend the meeting on my smartphone.

Ever have a Religious Ed. class canceled for bad weather? Schedule a meeting and send an invite out to your teens. They can learn in the safety of their own home. Take it one step further and plan a class through GoToMeeting. Invite parents to attend as well if you wish. It’s one night they don’t have to drive their teen to class and you might be amazed how much you save in supplies, such as paper and printing.

Do you have a program suffering from poor attendance? Try creating a webinar. People can attend it live online, and you can record it so others who can’t make the presentation can view it later. It’s a great way to run an “Ask the Pastor” series because you can control which submitted questions are seen by participants and also have options for polls and surveys.

As someone who has been doing ministry in various forums for over 20 years, I understand that as ministers we generally prefer to meet face-to-face for the sake of community building. The reality is that is not always possible and at times not even desired. GoToMeeting gives you a great tool to solve these issues.

Check out how the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is utilizing GoToWebinar

Poll Everywhere

Tool: Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere is a web based text polling tool that can be used by any ministry. When you make a poll, choose which type of question you want to ask: multiple choice or free response with any text reply. Then have your audience text in their answers. Results can be viewed in real time as responses are coming in. If you have people concerned about texting fees or are not comfortable with texting, Poll Everywhere provides a voting link that can be distributed via email, Twitter, or placed on a web page. This option allows people to respond in a regular web browser through a smartphone or computer at no cost to them. All responses can be instantly combined.

Poll Everywhere allows you to post as many polls as you want for free. The cost is dependent on group size. A group of 40 respondents or fewer is free. Audiences beyond this size have monthly fees but no contracts and come with some amenities that give you extra control of the content of responses. You can upgrade and downgrade whenever you want.

Text polling is a fun way for any audience to participate in your presentation and in turn helps them to stay engaged. This concept is extremely helpful in youth ministry. One way to use text polling is for the ever necessary ice breaker. You could provide a series of silly or thought provoking questions to help get to know the people in your group. Another way is to use text polling to ask trivia to test your students’ knowledge of their religion or past content from classes. Since the free version is anonymous and ungraded, no one will feel inadequate or dumb, yet you can get a sense of the level of retention in your group.

One final idea is to use poll texting for asking questions that people might not feel answering out loud. Here’s an example: When I worked in retreat ministry, one activity we liked to do was to ask questions about how people agreed or disagreed with topics concerning Church teachings, personal beliefs, and how one lives out his/her faith. Predictably some teens would get right into the discussion with zeal whereas others shied away for multiple reasons. The response yielded a small sample of what a few individuals thought without ever really knowing the feelings of the group as a whole. Using this tool can help provide a voice to those who might not speak up. An additional benefit is you are using gadgets that teens are engaged with all the time. This will make your class more fun and comfortable, which always benefits a religious education class.

If you do use Poll Everywhere sometime soon, please come back and leave a comment to let us know what the experience was like. Check out this video to get a sense of how Poll Everywhere works in a church setting.

Poll Daddy

Tool: Poll Daddy

What is PollDaddy? AppAppeal says –

PollDaddy is a service that provides polling and survey widgets for blogs, websites and social networking sites. Users can create simple polls and surveys, and the Polldaddy site will generate the widget code for them to post the poll or survey on their site. Users can create single answer, multiple choice or user answered polls using a convenient poll editor on the Polldaddy site. Read more .

This is a handy tool that is part of the WordPress blog service.  It can be used to create polls, surveys, and quizzes.

How can we use this tool in our catechetical programs?

  • Create a poll to see how members of your parish feel about adult formation?  Is it of value to them?  If yes, why?
  • Use a survey to understand what your adults are looking for in their parish adult formation opportunities.
  • Develop a quiz, to see what your adults understand or do not understand about a theological topic that is currently being discussed in your parish.

Polldaddy support and video tutorials are listed here.

Looking for information about Polldaddy using your iPad, check out this video –

If you are interested in distributing links to the survey by email as well as using QR codes, imbedded web links and of course, using the iPad, view

For those who Twitter, you may be interested in the Twitter version for Poll Daddy.  To learn more about how to use Poll Daddy for Twitter and how you can make cool interactive polls that are easily posted to Twitter, go to:

If you feel like you’re going to explore using Polldaddy, please cllick the “Like” Button.  Of course, when you have used it for a poll, survey, or quiz we would love to hear about your experience.  Please come back to share.

Survey Monkey

Tool: Survey Monkey

Survey Monkey is an online tool for creating surveys, and so much more! The questions can be multiple choice, essay, text, or even just an image you upload. Besides surveys, then, you can use this tool for home discussions, registrations, testing, collaborative planning, and more. Imagine a 7th grader sitting at home with Mom and Dad, going to the discussion tool you created, and viewing a picture of Jesus of Nazareth. The task would be to list as many ways their household exhibited qualities they would imagine of Jesus in an essay box. After submitting the list, the catechist will compile the work of students to use as a discussion starter at the next learning session.

One example of a Survey Monkey Discussion Tool:

Here is a quick tutorial to help you get started:

If you believe that you can now create a discussion tool that you and others can use to submit text – click the “Like” button.  Once you create a “survey” to engage your students at home, come back and tell us about it.  We’d love to hear from you.