Surveyor: A Survey and Student Testing Tool

Surveyor is a general purpose tool for collecting answers from people. It consists of a student and instructor app, and has two basic modes:

  • name-attached surveys
  • course testing related to a specific course.

The program is compatible with most cell phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. It displays in a compact format that makes maximum use of the screen size of phones. The same format is used on larger displays like tablets and desktops so as to provide a similar experience and hopefully no advantages or disadvantages to one device versus another.

The niche for Surveyor exists for a variety of reasons. Not all students bring laptops to class. The Learn system does not address the mobile market. And clickers are expensive and less useful than the modern smartphone.

The student experience with Surveyor is quite straightforward. Students typically enter the URL for either the survey menu, which then lets them select a survey or test they may take from a list of available surveys/tests. Or if the Prof chooses, the URL can specify the survey directly – such as with a QR code that can be printed on paper or shown on an overhead display.

If the survey or test requires a login, the user is prompted for her Nexus credentials before advancing, otherwise the user goes directly to the survey.

All surveys/tests have a publisher, who can be the prof, TA or staff member. The publisher is displayed with each survey found through the menu. This strategy helps reduce confusion in courses where there are multiple professors giving lectures.

At this point, many surveys have a password question before the survey can commence. Typically a prof will use a password so students cannot start the survey until the password is announced in the classroom. Furthermore, by changing the password at the end of the class, the professor locks the system and no additional answers can be submitted.

The survey questions are presented clearly, one per page. Each answer has a collection of checkbox buttons that are comfortably sized for a finger on a cell phone or easily selected with a mouse. Contrasting accessible colors are used to differentiate between answer buttons and progress buttons that advance or reverse through questions, allowing a user to change answers easily.

Answers are stored whenever a user switches pages. One can go back and correct earlier work. Also, the system saves all their work as they change it, in case the student’s device stops working.

A student can login multiple times until the survey is locked out. Thus a student whose phone battery dies can plug into the wall, or use an alternate computer, re-login, and edit or add to his existing answers.

Surveyor's resources include a detailed description, a video tutorial, and student and instructor apps.