Scheduling Office Hours with Doodle

Doodle is possibly the simplest way of setting up office hours – within five minutes you can have signup splots. This article explains how to use Doodle for scheduling your office hours.

Understanding Doodle Calendar slots

The role of office hours may be particularly important in online teaching, helping resolve administrative and course questions. Doodle offers one of the most simple ways of setting up calendar slots for office hours – an intuitive approach that enables you to quickly schedule meetings with students. As illustrated below, students are able to select from a series of available time slots, with Doodle ensuring that only one student is able to sign up each slot.

Example

Creating Appointment Slots on Doodle

The first stage in creating office hours slots on Doodle is to click the ‘Create a Doodle’ option in the top right corner of the page. 

Creating a Doodle

Step 1: Basic details of the meeting

The first options to stage in creating the meeting involves entering basic information:

  1. Title: The title that will be displayed when signing up.
  2. Note: This is useful for entering some instructions for using the signup slots – an instruction such as ‘Please signup for one slot’ may be appropriate. 

Step 2: Basic details of the meeting

When selecting time slots, there are two options that may be appropriate for office hours – using the calendar under the ‘week’, or entering the meeting slots manually using the ‘text’ option.

Creating office hour time slots using the 'week' option

It is possible to create signup slots on a calendar, adjusting the time slots to the time period and length desired.

While this approach may appear more intuitive, it can be slightly fiddly, and time slots are limited to a minimum length of 15-minutes (allowing a maximum of 4 meetings per hour), which in many cases may be too long for ensuring you are able to meet with many students. 

Creating office hour time slots using the 'text' option​

The more flexible approach for creating time slots is using the ‘text’ option. This allows you to enter the specific times desired for the slots.

Step 3: Poll Settings

There are several settings that are important when using Doodle to allow signups to slots.

  1. Limit the number of votes per option: To constrain the signup so that only one student is able to signup per slot, restrict the number of ‘votes’ (i.e., signups) per option to 1.
  2. Limit participants to a single vote: Given you will likely want to meet with multiple separate students, you can limit participants to only be able to sign up for a single slot. 
  3. Hidden poll: Since other students do not need to see who else has signed up for office hour slots, and there may be privacy implications of making this information available, select ‘hidden poll’.

Step 4: Finalizing the Doodle

The final stage in finalizing the Doodle is to enter your name and email. 

Completing Submission of the Doodle

Using the created Doodle

Sharing the link

After creating the Doodle, you will have a link that you are able to share with others. If you have selected a hidden poll, this link will enable them to view the available slots, but not see who has signed up already.

Sharing a link to Doodle

Signing up to a meeting slot

Using the shared link, it is intuitive for users to select a meeting slot – they need only 1) enter their name, 2) select the slot, and 3) click send. If a meeting slot has already been filled, it will not be possible for a another student to select that option.

Signing up for a Doodle Slot

Viewing individuals that have signed up for meeting slots

After creating the sheet, you will receive an email containing the link to view the submissions to the Doodle. This enables you to view the names and times of individuals who have signed up, as well as monitor the number of remaining slots available. 

Example

Adjusting student signups

Unlike other signup options, such as Google Calendar, where students can adjust scheduled appointments themselves, this is not possible in Doodle (at least for the majority of students that are not registered and close the initial signup page). If a student does let you know that they can no longer attend their time slot, it is possible to change or delete the student. If a slot is released, other students will now be able to signup to that slot. Hovering the mouse over the student reveals the edit pencil, as illustrated below:

Limitations of using Doodle

Lack of confirmation emails and calendar invites

One of the limitations associated with the simplicity of Doodle is the lack of confirmation emails and calendar invites (at least when using the free version of Doodle). Students need to record the slot that they signed up for and email you if they need to change their scheduled slot. 

Significant advertising included on meetings signup pages

The free version of Doodle is advertising-supported and as illustrated below, includes a significant number of advertisements on its signup page. If this is not desired, Doodle does offer paid plans which remove the advertising from signup pages, starting at $4.49 per month.

Summary

Doodle is one of the easiest ways of scheduling student office hours. In less than five minutes it is possible to create simple signup forms that can be shared with students, enabling you to schedule signup slots with minimal oversight. While not as powerful as alternative options such as using appointment slots in Google Calendar, Doodle can be a great option when needing to quickly schedule individual meetings.

 

 

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