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Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Friday, June 28, 2013

Workarounds for Scheduling Woes: When is Jennie Free?

In my job, I have to be in a million places a week with a million meetings at each place (slight overexaggeration, but not by much). I have tried lots of different tricks to schedule these meetings with a million different people, but they all were lacking in some way...
  • Google Calendar Appointment SlotsOftentimes I have multiple folks I need to meet with. Appointment slots makes it difficult to schedule group meetings with more than one person. Additionally, I can't create multiple open blocks of time under the same link. If I want to schedule a single meeting, but want to give folks options of Monday 2-6, Tuesday 10-2 and then again 3-5, I need to make 3 separate appointment slots. #Annoying
  • Doodle: I love this one, and probably use it the most for group scheduling (especially because it has Google Calendar integration). In some cases, I like it even better than the solution I'm going to share below. BUT, the big weakeness with this system is that I have to delineate every time I'm free. If the slots that I choose don't work for that person or people, then I have to start all over again with a new Doodle. #AlsoAnnoying
    • Shared or Public Google Calendars: This works great if you are all in the same network and have public calendars. However a lot of folks (myself included) don't want everyone knowing exactly where we are and what we're doing. So I tend to stay away from this.

    So, here is my current "solution": 
    A public "busy" calendar embedded in a Google site

    Here's what it looks like:



    What is a public "busy" calendar?
    In your calendar settings, you are able to go to a menu called "sharing". From there, you can decide if your calendar is public or private. Additionally, if you choose "public" you can set it to show only busy/free information - no info on where your appointments are, with whom, their titles, etc. Simply that you are "busy". So that could be anything from an epic Game of Thrones marathon to a full-day teacher PD. I love this option because while folks know when I'm busy and can't meet with them, they don't know why or where I am. So some semblance of privacy. 


    Why did I embed it into a Google Site?
    You don't have to do this step. In fact, you can find the public "link" to your calendar by going to your calendar settings, clicking on the "calendar details" tab and looking at the bottom of that page. There you'll find "Calendar Address" - and can click on the "HTML" button for the direct web link. I used to share this first link with people when I tried this method (I created a TinyURL for it so I didn't have to memorize the long gobble-dee-gook URL that Google creates for your calendar). HOWEVER, this takes them to the month-view of your calendar... which only shows the beginning time of your busy windows. As such, I had lots of people see I was busy at "9am" and they automatically assumed this was an hour-long slot. So they'd email me and say, "Hey! I'll see you at 10am!" Then I'd have to go back and explain that my 9am meeting was really three hours long. 

    SO - I created a simple 1-page Google Site that embedded the calendar right into it. All it has on it is my calendar and a few disclaimers, explaining how to read the calendar and reminding them of my time zone. The nice thing about putting my calendar in my Google Site - beyond being able to type a quick message or disclaimers to go with the cal - is that when you are embedding it, the site gives you options on what view people see and how they navigate it. SO, I was able to embed my calendar in "week view" - which shows the FULL busy window. 

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    So now I use this public calendar (which I've also created a TinyURL for) when scheduling appointments with one person or with a small handful. When there is a bigger meeting, we still go to Doodle since it allows for easier scheduling across many different schedules.

    So far, this has been working great for me - and I've gotten lots of "oh wow, how did you do this!?" comments. Thus, this blog post. This is how I did it :).

    1 comment:

    1. Thanks for this! I am about to begin regular collaboration with a group, and will follow your suggestion!

      On a side note...I just found your blog on a recent NEA article (https://www.nea.org/home/55918.htm?utm_source=nea_today_express&utm_medium=email&utm_content=tech&utm_campaign=130717neatodayexpress). We are about to get iPads in my school and I am so excited about using your blog as a support and resource. Thanks!

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