Google Docs is something we are still experimenting with in our classrooms. However, we have both made a start on using their exceedingly simple 'forms' document to gather data in the classroom. It is useful both for larger data gathering projects and for shorter ones.
In Year Five, the maths class have been given the problem of finding the most common names. This is a great problem as there is a lot of historical data to look back at as well as making use of easily accessible current data by looking at class lists. In order to extend this, we created a simple form on the Google Docs. This asked the year someone was born and what their name is. The link was sent out through our VLE and Twitter accounts to ask people to respond. You will be amazed at how quickly real information comes in. Google Docs then converts that into a handy spreadsheet for you which can be downloaded as an excel document or used collaboratively. Not only is data handling being covered but there is also a real life context to the use of spreadsheets for ICT.
In Year Six, we used the same form creation tool in an OMS. The class were asked what question they would like to ask. We then looked at what information we needed to gather to actually answer that question. The class decided that they wanted to know about favourite supermarkets so we decided we wanted to know about age, whether or not you are in charge of buying the shopping and which was the most common supermarket you used. This led to an excellent discussion about the use of open and closed questions to get responses and how we might find out why someone chose a particular shop. In the lesson, as a class, the form was completed and submitted. By the end of the lesson there were already some responses so the class could see the survey in action.