Scheduling Office Hours with Google Calendar

Google Calendar offers one of the easiest ways of setting up Office Hour appointments. This article explains how to set up meeting appointments that students can sign up for. 

Understanding Google Calendar Meetings

Office hours are an important way of increasing engagement with students, enabling students to resolve administrative questions and address gaps in understanding. One of the easiest ways of allowing students to schedule office hour slots is using Google Calendar.

Using the ‘appointment slot’ facility on Google Calendar it is possible to create individual slots, that students can then sign up to. Makes creating office hour slots easy, without any time spent on coordination, while ensuring that only one student can sign up for an individual slot. In addition, each student that signs up is sent an individual calendar invite – if they decide against the meeting, they can decline the invite, allowing other students to take the slot.

Creating Appointment Slots on Google Calendar

Once you have logged into Google Calendar, appointment slots can be created by:

  1. Creating the appointments: Clicking the + symbol in the top left corner of the screen (or selecting the day that you want the meeting for from the calendar grid)
  2. Meeting title: Typing a title for the meeting
  3. Appointment slots: Selecting ‘Appointment Slots’ from types of possible events
  4. Time range: Selecting the range of time that the slots will cover (if you require a break between slots, either create two separate slots, or create over the full range, and sign-up yourself to created slots to remove them from available options)
  5. Slot duration: Select the slot duration, which will determine the number of slots that are available
  6. Adding further details: Click more options to add in the meeting link 
Options for when creating appointments via Google Calendar

Within the additional options, it is then possible to:

  1. Calendar appointment page: This is the link to allow students to signup for the meeting – it is useful at this point to copy this link. As described below, this link can be shared with students to allow them to sign-up for the meeting slots (the meeting slots won’t appear in the link though until .
  2. Sharing the meeting link: In the description field, it is useful to add the link to the meeting (e.g., your Zoom room invite link) so that students have the link to hand to be able to join the call. An alternative is to encourage the students to type what they want to discuss in the meeting – the description can be edited when students signup for the meeting, and so adding “Please type below what you want to discuss” can allow them to add some context to the meeting invite.
  3. Save: Ensure that you save the meeting so that you can the meeting slots are available for students
Adding a Meeting Link to Google Calendar Office Hours Creation

Signing up for an Appointment Splot

Once the meeting has been created, the appointment slots will appear on the meeting link. A student can signup for for an appointment by clicking the desired link.

After selecting the desired time-slot, students are presented with the below screen to book an appointment. The description appears as entered above (including the meeting link, if applicable). As indicated above, the description can be edited by the student, and a message encouraging them to type what they want to talk about (i.e., added when creating the meeting), then allows them to type what they want to discuss.

As indicated below, once a student has signed up for a particular meeting slot, it is no longer available for subsequent students to register (i.e., avoiding the possibility of double-booked-slots).

Signing up for an Appointment Splot

Once a student signs up for a meeting slot, both they and you receive a calendar invite (an example illustrated on a Gmail-based email service below), and the meeting will appear on your Google Calendar.

Contained in the student invite is the option for the recipient to respond yes, maybe or no. While not all students are likely to respond (and a non-response likely means that they are attending), the ability to decline the invite is useful for releasing the sign-up option back to the pool of available invites for other students to sign-up to.

Below illustrates the original meeting hours returning to the calendar slot should it be rejected.

Summary

Google Calendar offers a convenient way of scheduling student office hours. As well as being a convenient way of arranging the time slots, requiring minimal coordination to arrange the slots, the Google interface is one that most students are already familiar with, making this an easy way for them to schedule the meetings.

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