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Forms: Overview

In Sakai, forms are online structures that allow you to collect and store data. They are the electronic counterparts of paper forms, such as those you fill out to submit applications, complete surveys, and so forth. A screen shows an example of a form in Sakai.

Each form consists of a name, instructions to the user, a set of text fields or boxes, and field names. Both the instructions and the field names guide participants in completing the form appropriately.

In Sakai, forms allow you to collect and store information for use in wizards, matrices, and portfolios. These forms can serve a variety of purposes. For example, you may use forms to collect routine information, such as contact information and educational or work history. You may also use forms to prompt users to document their learning or document work they have completed. Other forms may be designed to guide users in documenting the details of a teaching experience, restating a particular learning outcome in their own words, and reflecting upon an internship experience. Still other forms can be used to collect feedback on the user's work.

In wizards and matrices, you can present different forms to each different user who needs to provide input to the wizard or matrix.

  • To site participants, you might present forms that prompt them to provide background information, document work on projects, describe courses, reflect on co-curricular experiences, and organize thoughts about learning outcomes. These users complete one or more appropriate forms as they work in each wizard page and matrix cell.
  • To reviewers and evaluators, you present forms that collect and structure feedback on a site participant's work. These forms collect formative feedback (from reviewers) and summative feedback (from evaluators) on the work demonstrated in individual wizard pages and matrix cells and on the work as a whole. Forms for summative feedback can include an evaluation scale or elementary rubric.

Within a particular wizard, matrix, or portfolio, you may specify that some forms can be used only once. You may also specify that a form need not be completed at all if it is not appropriate.

Other forms can and should be used repeatedly to collect multiple versions of the same type of data. So, a student may complete and save a contact information form many times to capture information about his or her home, work, school, summer residence, parents, study abroad and/or research locations. When working with portfolios, the student can include any or all of these versions of the completed form in one or more portfolios and/or one or more versions of a specific portfolio.

The instructions, fields, and field names in forms vary, depending on the information the form is designed to collect. Fields may also be as small or large (up to 4,000 characters) as the creator of the form deems necessary.

Forms can contain many types of fields. The different field types are shown in this table.

Field Type

Examples

Text

First Name, Street Address, Insights Gained, Feedback

Date

Birth Date, Date of Certification, Creation Date

Integer

Current Age, Social Security Number, Years at Current Address

Decimal

GPA, mathematical results

Complex (multiple entries allowed)

Phone Number(s), Email Address(es), Skill(s), Accomplishment(s), Hypothesis(es)

Forms may be published globally (that is, for use in all sites in this CLE instance) or locally (that is, for use in one site only). Most forms are created for one or more specific sites. However, if you create a form that has general applicability, you may recommend that it be published globally. Only a system administrator can publish a form globally (in response to your recommendation).

Any form included in a portfolio template may display all fields from the form or only some fields from the form. The same form (and some or all of its fields) may be used in multiple portfolio templates, wizards, and matrices.

The Forms Tool and the Resources Tool

If you are the site organizer for a portfolio site, the Forms tool allows you to create and publish forms for use in this site. Each form that you create for the site is based on an .xml schema definition (.xsd file). This file is stored in Resources.

Important: We strongly recommend that you store all .xsd files in My Workspace Resources rather than in the portfolio site's Resources area. Site participants do not need to work with or see these files. By storing .xsd files in your personal Resources area (preferably in a folder named Form .xsds or something similar), you prevent site participants from possibly being confused by them. This practice leaves the site Resources area free to be used as the place for files that are appropriate for all site participants. It also allows you to use a single copy of an .xsd file in your My Workspace Resources to create forms in all of your sites.

All forms are also stored in Resources, so users access them via the Resources tool. In Resources, the name of each local form is displayed along with the name of the site to which it belongs in parentheses. So, a form entitled "Education" that is used only in the Career Services site is listed in Resources as Education (Career Services).

Using the Forms tool, you import .xsd files from Resources, give them meaningful names, provide instructions for using them, create the forms, and publish them for use by site participants. You may also use this tool to export forms from one site and import them into another.

The Forms tool does not provide direct access to the forms you create. Instead, site participants access forms that they need to complete via the Resources tool. They may view completed forms in Resources and in the wizards, matrices, and portfolios that make use of these forms. When users access the part of the wizard, matrix, or portfolio that contains a form, the form will display automatically.

Accessing a List of Forms

The Forms tool is usually located in the Guide category on a portfolio site. To access the tool, click the Launch button for Forms. Sakai displays the Forms home page.

The home page contains a list of forms that have been created locally for your site. The forms are ordered alphabetically. For each form, you can see the site on which the form is published, when it was last changed, and its state (published, unpublished, or waiting for approval).

If the list of forms is longer than one page, use the buttons under the Forms menu bar to display other pages in the list.

  • To display the first page in the list of forms, click First.
  • To display the previous page in list of forms, click Previous.
  • To display the next page in the list of forms, click Next.
  • To display the last page in the list of forms, click Last.

Creating a Form

Preliminary Steps

Before creating a form, follow these steps:

1. Review existing global forms on your CLE instance. You may find a form that suits your purposes, in which case you do not need to create a new one.
2. Plan the content carefully. Keep the following points mind:

  • Field names are displayed to the left of the text fields to which they apply.
  • Field names wrap somewhat unpredictably.
  • Long field names are difficult for participants to read.
    3. Consider creating the new form in a test CLE instance in order to view and change it as needed before including it in your production CLE instance.

Creating the Form

To create a form, access the Forms tool and follow these steps:

1. If you do not see the Forms menu bar, click the Reset button.
2. Click Add on the menu bar. Sakai displays the Add Form screen.
3. In the Name box, enter a meaningful name for the form.

Choose the name carefully: Be sure to choose a name that indicates the specific use of this form. After the form has been added to the site or published globally, its name will be visible in Resources to all site participants (or if published globally, to all participants of all sites in this CLE instance). Therefore, if the form is tailored to a particular matrix cell or wizard page, a generic name such as Reflection is misleading and makes the form seem appropriate for general use when, in fact, it is not. Use a generic name for a form only if the fields, field names, and instructions in it make the form suitable for use in a wide variety of situations.
4. Click Select Schema File. Sakai displays the Select Item screen.
5. Follow the instructions for selecting an item. After you click Finish, Sakai displays the Add Form screen again. The name of the file you selected is shown in the Schema File (.xsd) box.
6. In the Instruction box, enter appropriate instructions for filling out the form. Use the icons and pulldown menus to format the text as appropriate.
7. To add the form to this site, click Add Form. Sakai creates the form and redisplays the Forms home page. The new form has been added to the list in an unpublished state. Or, to return to the home page without adding this form, click Cancel.

Viewing a Form

To see a form as it is displayed to site participants, access the Resources tool and follow these steps:

1. If the Resources home page is not displayed, click the Reset button.
2. Click the Add link for any folder in Resources on this site.
3. Select Form Item from the Add Item Type pulldown list.
4. Using the pulldown list for Select Form Type, select the form.

The form that is displayed to site participants contains only two of the sections shown on this screen. The two sections that are displayed to site participants are Form Item and Properties. The Add Item section (at the top of the screen) and the Access section (at the bottom of the screen) are not displayed to participants who use the form.
5. To see another form, repeat step 4.
6. To exit, click Cancel. Sakai displays the Resources home page.

Changing a Form

Using this tool, you may change the name of a form and the instructions for using it. However, you cannot use this tool to change the schema file for the form itself.

To change the name or instructions for a form, access the Forms tool and follow these steps:

1. If you do not see the Forms home page, click the Reset button.
2. Find the form you want to change, and click the Revise link below its name. Sakai displays the Revise Form screen.
3. Change the entries in the Name and Instruction boxes as needed. Use the icons and pulldown menus to format the instructions text as desired.
4. To proceed, click Save Changes. Sakai changes the form and redisplays the Forms home page. Or, to return to the home page without changing this form, click Cancel.

Publishing a Form

In order to make a form available to site participants, you must publish it.

To publish a form, access the Forms tool and follow these steps:

1. If the Forms home page is not displayed, click the Reset button.
2. Find the form you want to publish.
3. Display the form according to the instructions in "Viewing a Form". Check to be sure that all fields, field names, and instructions, including spelling, are correct.
4. Optional: To ensure that the information for the form is complete and correct, click the Revise link. Check the details, make changes as needed, and save the changes before proceeding.
5. Click the Publish link for the form you want to publish. Sakai displays this confirmation screen:
6. To proceed with publishing the form, click Yes. Sakai displays the Forms home page. The Site State for this form has been changed to "published." Or, to return to the home page without publishing the form, click No.

Requesting that a Form Be Published Globally

If you have created a form that has general applicability, you may want to make it available for use in all sites. However, only Sakai system administrator(s) can publish a form globally (that is, across all sites in Sakai).

To request that a form be published globally, access the Forms tool and follow these steps:

1. If the Forms home page is not displayed, click the Reset button.
2. Find the form you want to submit to the system administrator for global publication.
3. Click the Publish Global link for the form. Sakai displays this confirmation screen:
4. To proceed with the request, click Yes. Sakai displays the Forms home page. The Global State for this form has been changed to "waiting for approval." Or, to return to the home page without submitting the request, click No.

Publishing a Form Globally

If you are a system administrator, you may publish a form globally (that is, for all sites in a CLE instance). To do so, log in and follow these steps:

1. Click the Administration folder at the top of the screen.
2. Select the PortfolioAdmin site.
3. Access the Forms tool. Sakai displays the Forms home page.
4. Find the form you want to publish and click the approve global publish link beneath its name. Sakai displays this confirmation screen:
5. Click Yes. Sakai makes the form available to all sites.

Exporting and Importing a Form

If you own more than one site, you may want to use a particular form in two or more sites. To do so, you may either recreate the form from the .xsd file in Resources or export the form to your desktop as a compressed file and then import it to the other site(s) where you plan to use it. You may also wish to acquire exported zip files for forms from other users for import to your site(s).

Exporting a Form

To export a zipped file for a form, access the Forms tool and follow these steps:

1. If the Forms home page is not displayed, click the Reset button.
2. Find the form you want to export.
3. Click the Export link below the name of the form. Sakai displays the Opening File window.
4. Follow the instructions.

Importing a Form

To import a form, access the site to which you want to import it and follow these steps:

1. Add the file to Resources.
2. Access the Forms tool. If the Forms menu bar is not displayed, click the Reset button.
3. Click the Import button on the menu bar. Sakai displays the Import Form screen.
4. Click Select File. Sakai displays the Select Item screen.
5. Follow the instructions given for selecting an item. After you click Finish, Sakai displays the Import Form screen again. >The name of the file you chose is displayed in the Import File box.
6. Click the Import button. Sakai imports the file from the Resources area and redisplays the Forms home page. The imported form is listed there. It has the same name and instructions as it had on its original site. Or, to return to the home page without importing the file into the Forms tool, click Cancel. Regardless of its state (published or unpublished) on the original site, the form you have imported is in an unpublished state on its new site.

Changing Permissions

All site participants can complete forms in Resources for use in portfolios, matrices, and wizards. However, permissions to create, change, delete, export, and publish forms by using the Forms tool can be restricted by role. To assign permissions, access the Forms tool and follow these steps:

1. If the Forms menu bar is not displayed, click the Reset button.
2. Click the Permissions button on the menu bar. Sakai displays the Permissions screen.
3. Referring to the table below, check boxes to select the appropriate permissions for users in each role.

Permission

Description

create

Users in this role may create and import forms for use by themselves and/or site participants.

edit

Users in this role may change the name and instructions for forms.

export

Users in this role may export a form to their desktops as a compressed file.

delete

Users in this role may delete forms.

publish

Users in this role may publish forms for use by site participants.

suggest.global.publish

Users in this role may suggest a form for global publication (that is, publication across all sites within a CLE).

4. To save the permissions settings, click Save. Sakai saves the settings and displays the Forms home page. Or, to return to that screen without saving your changes, click Cancel.