Password Protected Google Forms

First off – I can’t take credit for this idea – just the GIF below.  I’ve heard it mentioned most recently on the Google Teacher Tribe podcast where the idea was credited to Jeremy Badiner.

Second – In a Twitter discussion with Molly MacKinlay from Google (I love Twitter!), she pointed out that there’s an easier way to do this.  I still think that there are valid uses of the password-protecting strategy, but when appropriate, her way is certainly easier.  I’ll get to this later in the post, right under the GIF… 

There are a lot of uses to password-protecting Forms, but here are the 4 main ones that I can see:

  1. Post a Google Form (i.e., an assessment) to your LMS early, but students won’t be able to access the questions until you give them the password or until they complete a preliminary activity that releases the password to them.
  2. Set this form as part of a BreakOutEDU style activity – participants can only access the form once they’ve found the password in the previous stage.
  3. Make it so only your intended audience can fill out a form. (i.e., 1st period class, but not 2nd period class)
  4. Keep sensitive information within the form, just like a password-protected website.

One important note: setting “error text” is essential – otherwise it will tell the user the password.

Password Protected Forms Animation

The other way of doing this:

In my aforementioned conversation with Molly, a product manager with Google For Education, she reminded me of the ability to turn off “Accepting Responses.” If you want all of your students to have access to this Form at the same time, this is definitely the preferred way to go about it.  Leave it off until the quiz starts, then turn it on, then turn it off when the quiz ends.  Easy-Peasy.  The exceptions start with anytime that you want differentiated access: i.e., students can’t start a quiz until completing a certain activity, only students from a certain class should be able to access a form, etc.  And they continue with specialized applications of Google Forms: Digital BreakOuts and more. So, choose based on your need.  If you’re just keeping a form closed until test time, use the “accepting responses button.”  If you’re differentiating access in some way, use password-protecting.

More Notes

Ah, the power of the Twitter PLN.  Both of the following notes came to me through discussions with people on Twitter.

  • @HaleEdTech pointed out that the user (i.e., student) can discover the password using Inspect Element or View Page Source (both are in the right-click menu).  If you intend to use this regularly, you may want to 1) turn off Inspect element in the Google Admin Console and 2) block “view-source” in the URL blacklist in your Admin Console.  These will only prevent this in Chrome – there are likely other steps you’d need to take with Safari or Firefox.
  • @EfrenR shared with me that people should refrain from using the word “password” in this situation, as Google Forms directly states that they’ll “never ask for your password.”  He reported that they may even flag your Form for requesting user’s passwords. So, it may be wise to use something like “keyphrase” or “Form Code” instead.

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Jake Miller

Jake is a Google for Education Certified Trainer and is the Lead Technology Integration Specialist for Brady Middle School in Ohio's Orange City Schools. In the past he taught STEM, Science & Math in Stow-Munroe Falls, Ohio, where he was also a leader in the district's Technology Leadership Team and a co-advisor for the middle school's STEM Club. He has been an educator since 2003. His Bachelor's Degree is in middle-level education (math/science) from the University of Akron and his Master's Degree is in Instructional Technology from Kent State University. He has enjoyed providing more than 100 professional development opportunities at conferences and school districts across the state of Ohio. He is very involved in Twitter (@JakeMillerTech) and provides regular pointers for educators with his #GAFETip tweets.