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Scannable forms for printing?

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Continuing the discussion from Listen and Learn: A Tool for California Residents to Track Street Safety:

First off: I never thought of scantron as a xerox word, but it is. (and how long before someone links to the word that describes words in popular usage coming from brands… 3, 2, 1). So there’s that.

Secondly, I thought: I wonder if we could build paper forms in a way that could be scanned in by a phone by volunteers, rather than typed in by a volunteer. And if I could automagically produce that printed form from a corresponding digital web form. And if not, let’s make that, okay?

So… what’s available? :slight_smile:

There are things like this, which at least get you to the “scan it with a phone” step: http://www.multiplechoicescanner.com/

I think if you wanted to be able to have a form with questions inline with answers and have it all be scannable, you might be able to do it by wrapping the answer blocks in a way that the computer can say “look here!”.

You’ll likely lose form density in the process since any surrounding text would need a significant margin to prevent producing errors and interfering with the answer blocks. But I suppose if you’re needing speed, you’re not producing very dense forms in the first place.

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The SAT (ugh) had a section where you painstakingly filled in bubbles for each letter sequentially in your name. (I vividly remember dreaming I’d filled it out wrong in a manner unknown to dream-me, so it was extra frustrating, and got a negative score on the SAT. It was because of test instructors saying “you get a 400 just for writing your name” and my brain taking everything literally.) Such a form would make phone number and email list signups way easier to input, but would take kind of long to fill out. I’ve seen east bay dsa and other orgs use a fleet of tablets to check people in and sign ppl up to mailing lists. Because we’re all gucci socialists. >=( I’ve tried asking people to sign up for a mailing list by going to a google form on their phone, using a shortened url, but that’s assuming the audience has phones and data plans, which again for protests in sf against tech companies cooperating with asks, was a safe assumption for that audience.

So I guess my follow up question is: what are we prioritizing? Universal access? Ease of use? Speed of use? By whom, the form filler or the form scanner? Both?

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If we want to receive the most data, making it easy on the people submitting and collecting it is key.

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A post was split to a new topic: Proprietary Eponym

Interestingly enough on our campus we are fazing out scantrons. The vast majority of our testing has gone digital and the expense of keeping the scantrons in working order is surprisingly high. We find they break a lot, and the software is particular to a fault. There is some discussion of some individual departments spending the cash on their own for a few who have proccesses who cant or wont modernize but they will likely fold over to digital too in a few short years.

Most departments are deploying surveys and questionaires electronically too.

EDIT: Not saying they don’t have their uses, its just interesting to me that my sampling of academia has been relatively quick to adapt to this change in this instance; as they tend not to adapt quickly to change in my experience.

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I think that’s fine. I also think everyone should have access to a simple computing slate that renders hypertext and allows limited feedback. Academia is lagging! :slight_smile:

I wasn’t thinking of scantrons, per se. I just know there are things like receipt scanners and OCR, and the obvious block things, maybe there is a happy medium combining it all and making it nice for this kind of canvasing approach.

At this point, I’m more interested in learning what is available, and then focusing on the type of data I’d like to collect. Although I do want to collect a lot of data, specifically from San Jose citizens. :slight_smile:

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