Their presentation was more of a discussion than a presentation, which promoted a lot of group conversations and sharing. One of the things Kevin shared in the session really stuck with me, and inspired an idea. When we were discussing how to know if our PD had an impact on the participants, and if they used what we taught them, Kevin shared a strategy that he has used. Kevin sends out emails after the event, and then, if he remembers, another one a few months later.
I normally send an email right after the PD, but never thought of sending one out later, to check in on the participant's progress. I know I wouldn't consistently remember to send an email later in the year; I'd never be able to keep track of everything. I thought that there had to be a way to automate that process. I immediately began thinking of how I could use Google Forms and some Add-Ons, copyDown and formMule, to make this work.
I just got a chance to try this out and set it up for the professional development I offer at my district. In this post, I will describe how I set it up in case you want to use this for any PD you may offer.
Summary of Automation Process
- First, I created a Google Form for participants to sign in when they attend a PD session. It collects their name, email, and title of the session.
- On the spreadsheet that is created from the form submissions, I added a few extra columns, with formulas.
- One column includes the date of a week after the PD, which has a formula that auto adds that up referencing the timestamp.
- Another column that includes a date three months after the PD, with a formula to calculate that, referencing the timestamp.
- And two more columns that reference those two dates I just created. The formula in these columns looks at the previous column and if the date of the one week column equals today's date, it will write "TODAY" in the column, and if the date of the three month column equals today's date, it writes "TODAY" in that column.
- Next, I ran the add-on copyDown to copy down these formulas into each row on form submission.
- Finally, I used the add-on FormMule to run each morning. It is triggered to send out one of two emails. If the one week column says "TODAY", it will send the one week email thanking participants, sending them the link to our PD resources webpage, and asking if they need any support. If the three month column says "TODAY", an email will be sent asking if they implemented what they learned and offering support if they need help.
This video is about 20 minutes and walks you through the entire process to set up one week and three month check-in emails. I am so sorry that it is this long, but you can jump ahead to the section you need, using the timeline if you open it up on YouTube, or on the table of contents "page" at the beginning of the video.
Spreadsheet Formulas and formMule HTML
Here are some of the formulas and HTML code I used, so you can copy and paste them into your own sheet.
- To convert the Timestamp (with date and time) to the date: =to_date(int(A2))
- 1 week reminder (7 days): =B2+7
- Today: =if(H2=today(),"TODAY","")
- 3 month reminder (91 days): =B2+91
- Today: =if(J2=today(),"TODAY","")
HTML for FormMule:
- HTML website link: <a href="https://sites.google.com/a/seq.org/suhsdpd/">SUHSD PD Website</a>
- HTML email link: <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_top">Melissa</a>
(What is in blue is what they will see in the email, and it will be hyperlinked to what is in red.)