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Unconventional Tool: Using Google Forms for Text-Based Branching Scenarios

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Recently in work land, I’ve been helping to explore accessible alternative solutions when porting built-in Moodle interactions to Canvas LMS. We’ve been having a bit of a rough time with several of the more complex interactions, such as polling and Moodle’s cloze question type (a question that contains multiple questions of different types), though we’ve been able to skirt around them.

Surprisingly, even something as simple as Moodle’s lesson tool has been something we’ve been unable to port. Canvas has no similar functionality to create a branching scenario. Bummer! While Twine (a tool I’ve mentioned previously) came up as the front-runner and could certainly do the job, I had to bring up the fact that Twine is still not accessible (I’m hoping to rectify that this year by creating an accessible Twine Story format). Then, the instructional designer with the third-party vendor we’re working with suggested using a Google Form and I thought: “What a great idea!”

A Free Tool for Your Practice

Of course one of the main reasons I liked the idea so much was the relatively low barrier to entry. I’ve written before about the importance of practice as designers and I realize that the lack of free, easy-to-use tools can be an issue. Using your Google account to create a branching scenario is one thing that just about anyone can do, no money down. As an added benefit, you could discuss your work in the context of accessibility, mentioning that you chose to use Google forms over a branching tool like Twine because it would be accessible to screen readers. An easy win to add to your portfolio.

A Demo

So I tried to recreate Town (a starter game by Anna Anthropy). Obviously Twine has some advantages here. The ability to see all of your passages at once and their connections is one. The ability to create variables and states is another, but if you plan a bit before hand, you can get by without too much hassle. As it is, I tried to do a straight port without planning and you’ll likely find some sticky situations where you didn’t pick up the right tools but I had to have you advance, anyway.

You can use the Multiple Choice question with the setting to Go to Section Based on Answer to create your branching.

Also nice is that you can add videos (YouTube only, but, hey, it’s a Google tool) and images, so you can jazz this up considerably.

Check it below:

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