Monday, January 27, 2014

Automated Mad Libs Using #Google Forms and #Autocrat

Pin It At Google Teacher Academy, one of the coolest things I was introduced to is Google Scripts.  I had heard of scripts, but had never tried to use any.  {I'm a scripting noob!}  Luckily, during our second day unconference, I was able to try out Autocrat while @davidgtess held my hand.  :)

If you're not familiar with Autocrat, it's a document merge script.  Pretty much, what that means is that you can have the data from any spreadsheet populated into a Doc template and saved to Drive or emailed out.  What this means for me is that I can have someone fill out a Google form and have their input sent to a beautifully formatted, print-friendly document.  So many uses!

If you would like to try this out for yourself, YOU CAN!  You can fill out the form below to have a sample holiday mad lib automatically emailed to you!  :)

  1. First, fill out this form: http://goo.gl/DnTN7f
  2. When you click submit, you will receive an email with your PDF mad lib.  :)
What does it look like behind the scenes?  First I created a Google Form...




Then I set up a Google Doc template using <<tags>> to match and pull information from the spreadsheet that was generated from the form data.


Then I went to the spreadsheet that was created from my form and added the Autocrat script (Tools > Script Gallery > search for Autocrat).


It's actually not as difficult as it looks.  Autocrat is well-written and will walk you through the steps.  Don't be afraid - just get in there and play!  Here's what a completed merged document looks like:


You can see where the <<tags>> pulled my information and automatically plugged it into the template.  Cool, huh?!  Have you used Autocrat before?  How are you using it in the classroom?  I would love to hear your thoughts!



10 comments:

  1. Hi Jessica,

    Thanks for the post! I am going to give it a try-- I'm library/tech and can see lots of applications. I'll let you know if I figure something out. Thanks again!

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    1. Good luck and let me know if you get stumped! :) I can always do a GHO to walk you through it. Have fun!

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  2. I'm going to try this script for our district IPDP. Once I get it to work, I can better show teachers how they could use it in their classes!

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  3. HI Jess, may I please have the Google doc with the story? Autocrat is not firing anymore :(

    Thanks!

    Sylvia

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    1. Hey Sylvia. I stumbled across this post and had done the exact same thing with my daughter around the same time. I wonder if Jess and I were both inspired at the Google Summit at Lovett that year :) Feel free to visit our webpage (http://bit.ly/goolibs). I can also share any docs of mine you would like.

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  4. Hi Jess- I've successfully managed to create the form, the template, and run AutoCrat, but I hit a small snag. It doesn't automatically send the emails. I have to run the merge manually from the responses sheet. Is there a step I'm missing or something? Please reply here, if you can.

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    1. Sorry for the delayed response! Were you able to solve your problem? I have had problems recently with the automatic run of the merge. I am afraid it could be a snag with the script. If I hear otherwise, I will let you know. Good luck!

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  5. Oh! I did this today, and it was perfect!!! Thank you so much for the idea and the step-by-step guide.

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  6. How do you get around having two or more nouns, verbs etc.? If I have verb, verb, plural noun, plural noun then it is repeating one of the entries. I've changed the document to say verb 1, verb 2 but I would rather not have to do that.

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  7. So, I am having to do this for a class project and can't seem to understand the instruction. Could you give a more detailed set of instructions?

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