This note compares the various modes of collecting student feedback at colleges at the end of the term, with that of onEdu. Take it with a pinch of salt, as this may be a bit biased coming from the developer of onEdu. But it does allow one to review the available methods and consider each of them before selecting one of them for use at their college. The comparison includes the cost, effort required and ease of use for the three phases of student feedback collection, analysis and reporting. 
 
The predominant methods that we have seen in use are:
  1. Manual method using pen and paper
  2. In-house built software
  3. Google Documents
  4. Popular survey freeware like survey monkey and 
  5. onEdu
 
Manual Mode:
The age old method of collecting feedback from students on a paper form at the end of the last class for a subject by the faculty is by far still the most popular method today. Many colleges actually have an independent department responsible for feedback collection and analysis. The department prepares all the data sheets required (subject/faculty combination) for each of the subjects and sections at the college and requests the students to fill up the form manually. Data from the sheets goes into a spreadsheet like MS Excel as raw data to be further analysed. 
Disadvantages:
  • The activity is very labour intensive and hence expensive
  • Errors can creep in during data collection, entry and analysis
  • Elective subjects offered to students can make this activity complex
  • Time taken for analysis is high making the whole exercise redundant 
  • Students are concerned about the anonymity
 
In-house built software:
A few proactive colleges, having realised the problems with manual mode, have had their faculty and/or students develop a custom software for this purpose. Students can login to this custom built software, or use random PINs (for anonymity) and provide their feedback on the subject/faculty. Faculty can login to the portal and review the feedback from their students. While this is much better than other methods discussed above, the disadvantages are:
  • Software needs to be maintained professionally to ensure reliability, security and privacy. Students and faculty may be able to complete the development of such software as a project, but they usually are not excited about maintenance of the software. 
  • Students eventually graduate out and faculty move on to other activities, leaving the software without maintenance or support
  • Changes to software can be difficult to do without the original developers or professional documentation. As your business processes change over time, software becomes redundant and unusable
  • Students are cautious as they are not confident of the anonymity promise 
 
Google Docs and Forms:
Google provides free apps to educational institutions with absolutely no usage limits. Microsoft has also started providing Office 360 applications for free to educational institutions. Some enterprising faculty have developed google forms that can be used to collect student data. The forms are easy to fill for the students, can be made anonymous and this makes data collection easier. However, the disadvantages are:
  • Takes up too much time and effort to setup (which student gets to fill feedback for which faculty and subject)
  • Elective subjects offered to students can make this activity complex
  • Raw data collected in spreadsheets, but no usable reports are available by default
  • No easy way of sharing the analysed feedback with faculty in a secure way
 
Popular Survey freeware:
Several online software providers such as Survey Monkey have followed a freemium model where in certain limited set of features are provided for free, for a given number of users. Questionnaires can be defined and invitations for responses are sent by email. Anonymity can also be maintained, and the vendors also provide canned reports that are readily available. However, the disadvantages are:
  • Takes up too much time and effort to setup (which student gets to fill feedback for which faculty and subject)
  • Elective subjects offered to students can make this activity complex
  • Reports are not custom developed for college context
  • No easy way of sharing the analysed feedback with faculty in a secure way
 
onEdu:
onEdu is a comprehensive campus management software and includes a student feedback module with excellent reporting capabilities. The software can be deployed as a college branded portal with in hours and data conversion programs allow you to upload the college data in no time. 
 
  • You build your questionnaire; custom questions for lab subjects; projects; or have college level questions in the feedback
  • Absolute anonymity giving your students the confidence they need to give you frank and objective feedback
  • Your base setup data is already fed in by us; all the work is done for you
  • All you do is shepherd your students into the computer labs one section at a time and then collect feedback
  • Personalised reports for each faculty are immediately available
  • College level dashboards for Principal are immediately available
  • Department level dashboards for HODs are immediately available
  • In fact it is so easy that you can actually do multiple feedbacks in a semester; allow your faculty to tailor the teaching as per the students’ feedback
  • Complete data can be downloaded for further analysis in statistics
  • Historical trend reports are available for further decision making
  • Built on open standards and hosted on Amazon cloud, the best cloud hosting service in the world
  • personalised reports delivered to faculty on their mobile app (android, iOS)
 
Are there any disadvantages? Not that we know of today, but why don’t you try and let us know. We continuously add new features to the software every month and may be able to include your recommendation for your next feedback cycle. 
 
So you choose, the current available systems that are too cumbersome, error prone, take too much time and do not inspire confidence or onEdu, which is easy to use, provides you with instantaneous and personalised results, and gives you complete peace of mind - with a professional software development organisation backing it up all the time. 
 
Cost of Feedback vs Ease of Use