Ahhh, the start of a new academic year. Freshman wandering lost around Tribble Hall. I love this time of year.
One thing that always goes on in a college environment is students wanting to get in touch with their professors, whether it is to discuss an assignment, get advising on courses for the next semester, or just to talk. Professors are required to have office hours, which typically are announced via their syllabus. Most professors also post office hours on their doors. It looks something like this.
That’s how many or most of my professors publicize their office hours.
An open block of hours is great. The professor is there and available. What happens if 3 students come at 3:30 on a Monday because last weeks assignment isn’t clear? If I end up being the 3rd person in line, I’m not too happy, especially if I know student number 2 is a blowhard or a schmoozer. He could be in there for a half an hour.
What about students who aren’t taking a class with the professor that semester – students like advisees or students from previous semesters? What’s the best way to make the appointment? It’s one thing if it is a current student and see the professor 1-3 times a week for class. They can just say “Hey, is 4pm next Monday a good time to come by?” But for students who don’t have regular, face to face contact it isn’t always as easy. Phone and email often take a bit of back and forth. If only there was an easier way.
WFU is a Google Apps for Education campus. We each have a google calendar that is shared out with other WFU google apps users. By default other people only see blocks of free/busy time, not the details. Don’t worry about someone else seeing whether that hour you blocked off is for a class or a dentist appointment.
Google Apps for Education has a feature called Appointment slots. Below, I’ll walk you through setting up appointment slots on your calendar.
Let’s say I want to set up office hours on Tuesdays and Fridays from 6am-8am in 15 minute slots for the fall semester starting on July 9.
Now, you just distribute that link however and wherever you want.Some suggestions include:
- a webpage (personal or departmental)
- social media – facebook, twitter, google+, instagram, whatever
- email and/or texts
- suggestion: use a URL shortening service and/or QR Code generator to simplify the long URL. (Google URL service does both).
When the student click on it, they will be prompted to log into their google account. They will then see a week with blocks for the appointment slot. When the student clicks on a block, they will be prompted to Save it to their calender.
You will get an email invite from the students. Say Yes to accept the meeting and put it on your calendar. You can still say No if the particular time doesn’t work. The student will get a notification that you don’t accept the meeting and they will know not to come.