Scheduling Meetings Digitally

It’s advisement time on campus and I see sign up sheets on many of my colleagues’ doors.  As I walked past the lists of names taped on the doors recently, I wondered if there was a more secure way to have students and instructors schedule meetings.  Since I’m reliant on my smartphone for so much of my professional life, I also wondered whether a solution existed where the scheduled appointments would easily sync with my other calendars so that my scheduled advisement sessions were always on hand.  With a little hunting, I figured I was bound to find a workable solution.

After trying out a few different options, I think I’ve come across a simple alternative to those sign up sheets taped to instructors’ doors.  Calendly is a free scheduling service that easily links with Google calendars.   Users log into Calendly with their Google accounts and the service is automatically synced with their Google Calendar.  As someone who has numerous Google Calendars for different purposes (family, work, organizations, etc.), I really like the fact that I could select the specific Google Calendar I wanted to connect.  I also appreciated that Calendly didn’t actually access all of my existing events.  The site could see scheduled times in my calendar but didn’t see any information for the events scheduled at those times.

Once Calendly links with your Google Calendar, the next step is to create events to schedule.  You can select a range of dates and times and the length of meeting you want people to be able to schedule.  The site offers some basic events of different length (15 minutes, 30 minutes, and so on) but users can customize their own events with lengths of time up to 11 hours.  Users can also customize the color the event will appear on your calendar when it’s scheduled as well as some of the information that will be collected upon scheduling.  The default scheduling asks for students’ First and Last Name, Email Address and Phone Number but users can also customize this.

Once the events are created, Calendly builds a unique webpage that can be shared with students.  To schedule an appointment, a student would select one of the available times on the webpage and provides his contact information.  After a quick click to complete the process, Calendly sends out an email to the student who scheduled the appointment and another email to the instructor.  The scheduled event also appears on the Google Calendar with all of the student’s information.  With all of this data in hand, I can easily contact a student who misses an appointment or reschedule an appointment if a conflict arises.  Since my Google Calendar is accessible on my iPhone, I can quickly check all of the scheduled appointments with a few swipes of my finger.  While the process might not be as simple as a paper and pencil sign up sheet, it does offer some improved functionality for the digital age.

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