Lately I’ve been reflecting a lot about how I devote my time and energy and realized there are many logistical tasks I manage on a regular basis that could be automated with technology (and I love technology!). One of these tasks is setting up meetings with students; we often email back and forth to find out when they are available, how long they want to meet, how soon they need to chat, what they want to discuss, etc.
To meet this need, I looked into various web-based scheduling tools and landed upon http://youcanbookme.com. This service is free (though there are additional options/upgrades for paid subscriptions) and has allowed me to:
- provide my available weekly time blocks on a web-based calendar for students to click on and sign up for
- ask students to decide how long they need for the appointment (I set up the default at 30 minute meetings but allow for 10 minute increments in case students have a quick question)
- get an understanding of what students want to discuss (I added the field “what would you like to discuss during the meeting” to the sign up form, which is fully customizable)
- have student appointments show up directly on my Apple calendar
- not have to cancel meetings if student change their minds (they can do this themselves)
To communicate my availability to students, I post the link to my schedule https://jaimieusc.youcanbook.me/ in my email signature (see below) and on my syllabus. Not only does it reduce time and energy with finding a common meeting time but it allows me to mentally (or physically) prepare to help them because I know what they want to discuss. The calendar also allows students pick how soon they need to meet (perhaps their question is not urgent so they can wait a week if it’s busy for me), whereas I would normally try to get them in immediately. And last, I do not like telling students “I’m full this week” so my calendar speaks for itself.
I will admit that I am still unsure about not having the simple “open office hours” listing/availability because I like that students feel that they can drop by to visit. But, that set up has occasionally caused stress because multiple people dropped in at the same time.
If you go with this method, I recommend making sure students know to contact you if your availability doesn’t like up so you are still perceived as being available.
Signing up is easy — go to http://youcanbookme.com, create an account and set up your preferences. Here are some screen shots that illustrate how I set it up (this tool has a lot more functionality than what I have explored or need but feel free to play around).
1. Log in and click “edit profile”
2. Edit the information on the “basic” page; you decide your booking link address and provide the info that students see when they land on your page.
6. Click on the appearance tab to change the look and feel of your nifty web-based form
Happy scheduling (or actually, not scheduling… that’s the point). 🙂