Education, K-12, Teaching Tools

Random Generator Add-On

I’m sure you never do this¬†– spend hours looking for a digital solution for something that would take about 15 minutes manually ūüėČ

But on the off, off, off-chance you have, maybe I can save you some time.

You see, I use a lot of Google Forms.  We are using them for a few club applications this year.  Both clubs are extremely popular, so we have to choose participants with a random drawing.

My need is¬†simple – a tool that will automatically “draw” names from my Google Response sheet without me physically writing them down and putting them in a hat.

There are actually many tools for doing this.  Richard Byrne, for example, recently posted about how to make a random name selector with Google Sheets and  Alice Keeler has got a great Random Student Chooser Template.

But I don’t really need anything that looks good for the drawings I’m doing;¬†no one will be watching except the club sponsors.

I hit the jackpot when I looked in the “Add-Ons” on my spreadsheet. For those of you who don’t know, some of the Google products offer “Add-Ons” that automate all kinds of things, like making a sudoku puzzle for you. ¬†(Yes, I know it’s sad that Sudoku was my first Add-On for this account.)

Sudoku Add-On

You will find Add-Ons in the menu on the top of Google Sheets next to Tools. ¬†Once you click on it, you can choose, “Get Add-ons,” which will take you to the ones that are offered for Sheets.

Random Generator

Random Generator is free. ¬†At first I didn’t think it would suit my purpose but figured I would try it anyway. ¬†When I realized it would do what I needed, I¬†nearly hugged my computer.

Here are the steps:

Open the Sheet that has information. ¬†(In my case, it was the Responses to my club application.) ¬†After you get the Random Generator Add-On, select a blank column. ¬†Then, go back to Add-Ons and choose Random Generator and start it. ¬†Random Generator will appear on the side. ¬†In the Integer windows, put “1” to “whatever number of applicants you have.” ¬†Then click on “Generate.” ¬†Random numbers will appear in the column and you will instantly know where each person falls in the draw. ¬†You can even select all the columns and sort your spreadsheet by the numbers.


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Maybe you find the numbers confusing or you don’t even want to bother with sorting them afterward. ¬†Instead, you can use “Custom List” in the Random Generator. ¬†Choose “New List” and select the cells that have the first names in them. ¬†After you’ve got your list, select a new blank column and click on “Generate.” You will have the first names randomly ordered in your column. ¬†And boom, there’s your drawing!


Random Generator from List

The potential applications of this are enormous – random job assignments, random dates for bringing a class snack, etc…

Yes, I’m well aware that I could have written the names on pieces of paper and pulled them out one by one in less time than it took me to write this post.

But, what’s the fun in that? ūüėČ