Online Survey Software

Online Survey Software

Jason D. Baker (Regent University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2172-5.ch019
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The commonality among online instruments – regardless of discipline – is the use of online tools to administer the electronic measurements, collect participant responses, and aggregate the results for data analysis. Under the heading of software as a service (SaaS) or cloud computing, online survey software makes it possible for individuals and organizations to easily develop and administer online instruments. This chapter provides a background into SaaS and cloud computing, profiles three leading online survey software tools – SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics, and LimeSurvey – along with the PollEverywhere online and mobile polling tool. The chapter concludes with the corresponding cost and links to these online survey tools along with relevant terms and resources.
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Online survey software is an example of software as a service (SaaS) or cloud computing. The Gartner research group defines software as a service as “software that’s owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers” (Gartner, 2012b, para. 1). SaaS then is software that’s run on remote computers but able to be accessed on local ones. As Gartner further stipulates, if a vendor has to install software locally, then it’s not SaaS (para. 1).

SaaS is considered a subset of the larger concept of cloud computing. Gartner (2012a) defines cloud computing as “a style of computing in which massively scalable IT-enabled capabilities are delivered ‘as a service’ to external customers using Internet technologies” (para. 1). The cloud is basically the Internet but it represents a particular use of the Internet. The idea is that you can store content in the cloud (e.g., documents, music, video, files, etc.) or you can run programs in the cloud (e.g., word processing with Google Docs rather than installing Microsoft Word on your local computer) or you can even run entire virtual computers online (e.g., leased instances through Amazon Web Services).

The concept of storing materials online isn't a particularly new one; in addition to the “thin client” concept that came and went in the late 1990s where the idea was that everything important would be online and you'd not need as powerful of a computer on your desktop, the “client-server” model of mainframes (i.e., big powerful centralized computer access from dumb terminals) is a forerunner. However, the movement toward online computing and storage has been accelerating of late, due not only to good marketing and terminology (i.e., “the cloud”) but also because of new tools being made available to developers and consumers alike.

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