Online Design & eLearning

Faculty Focused

Digital Office Hours: Part One – Scheduling

Posted on: February 23rd, 2015 by annek

Online Scheduling Made Easy

As schedules get more hectic for everyone in higher education, more and more instructors are offering alternatives to traditional f2f office hours. Instructors and students have increasingly complex schedules and it is often difficult to meet during the workday or on campus. Online office hours are a useful tool for the instructor who is unable to spend much time in his office or who is traveling. By using web-tools, instructors can be more flexible in scheduling time to meet one-on-one with their students.

I still see printed appointment slot sheets posted on faculty doors throughout campus, and students often express frustration with these printed sheets. They are already pressed for time and they ask for more accessible ways to schedule appointments with their instructors and advisors. I recommend using an online appointment scheduling system. Two systems currently being used on campus are ‘You Can Book Me’ a free system that works with Google calendar and ‘Appointment Plus’ a paid system that many departments are using for advising appointments.

youcanbookme site

Screenshot of YCBme’s appointment page

You Can Book

I highly recommend YCBme if you use Google Calendar to manage your regular appointments. The YCBme system posts your availability on your YCBme page. You also have the option of restricting the dates and times that will display. Your students can book appointments online based on their schedules. The instructor will then receive an alert once the appointment request is made. Instructors have many options including the ability to select the length of the time slots. The system also allows instructors to send out e-mail or text reminders to reduce ‘no-shows’.

YCBme is expanding their service to include several additional calendar programs including iCloud, Yahoo and CalDAV.

Appointment Plus

Appointment locator

View of Appointment Plus options selection page

Appointment Plus is a fee based system that is widely used by many units on campus, including the School of Education, the Bachelor of General Studies program and the Center for Student Success and First Year Experience. The basic service starts at $34/month and the costs increases if additional services are needed.   The system has many configuration options and the support desk is happy to help create the right system for your department. Students can be offered the option to pre-select a variety of options which would then direct them to an appropriate advisor.

The student is directed to the advisor’s schedule and can select the best day and time for an advising appointment.

Appointment schedule

Screen Shot of an advisor’s schedule