Create a staff application online for free using Google Docs

Staff application screenshot from FHNtoday.com

Staff applications for 2010-2011 are approaching for many. Something you might want to consider this year is creating a form online for your staff application. Using Google Documents you can create one for free – and it’s relatively simple.

I’m trying something new this year, basically on what I considered a challenge from Jill Chittum. I created an online form using Google Docs for my students to apply for staff and editor positions for next year. We have to have our classes for next year set by late January so I’ve already had to start the application process.

In the past I handed out a 4-page packet to everyone. It worked fine and I’m sure it still would have worked fine this year, however, I switched things up a bit and am very excited to see how it will work out. There’s usually no middle ground for my ideas, they either work pretty well or they fail miserably. Time will tell on this one. Here’s what I did:

1) I started by asking my staff Web editor for space to post applications on the student site. They gave me a page, however, I could have done this without the space. Putting a link on the student publication site just allows for a bit more exposure to the application and ease to get to it. You can see the page here.

2) I have a Google account to I went to my ‘Documents’ page. I went to the ‘Create New’ button and chose ‘Form.’

3) From there, I basically transfered the questions from my paper application to this online form. I created a General Staff Application and an extra Editor Application for those who are wanting to interview for leadership positions on staff.

4) At the bottom of each form it gives you a box that shows you a live link to the form you’ve created. It will look something like this:

5) Take that link and either embed a link like this where actual text holds the link on the Web or use a service like http://bit.ly to shorten the link to something like this: http://bit.ly/7cxJeW.

6) Promote the link wherever you can. I am still handing out a 1-page printout that explains the application process.

7) Once students hit the ‘Submit’ button at the end of the application, their answers are saved in a nice, tidy spreadsheet that only you can see.

Two weeks in, I’m pretty happy with things so far. I like the fact the application is a bit more eco-friendly and I like that it’s online. Seems very 2009 to me. However, bit.ly is blocked at school so the link I promote can only be done from home unless they go to find it on FHNtoday.com. Also, the application has to be completed in one sitting. Students just can’t start filling out the form and come back to it. They either need to copy and paste all questions/answers to and from a word processing application or they just need to allot the necessary time to complete it in one sitting – which will most likely be the last night before it’s due.

I’ll be anxious to see how it goes and will keep you all updated on other things I learn in the process.

Anyone else doing online applications or something similar? Would love to hear.

If you’re interested, here are some other forms that have been created on the site:

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Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 20th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He created The Next 26 and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on Twitter and Instragram @manfull and on Snapchat as aaronmanfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

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