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Instant course calendar

December 8, 2010

I use Google Calendar in my multimedia course to help me see how course dates line up against vacations, holidays, parents weekend, and so on. I have also used it as a place to save a brief list of items covered each day, reducing the number of times I hear “What did the class do when I was away?” Some people even rely on a calendar to provide a framework for the syllabus.

If you have a Google account it’s easy to use their calendar tool. You can create multiple calendars for personal or work use, and choose which of them you want to display. Besides the course calendar, I have one for a choir to which I belong, one showing when my student workers are supposed to be in the lab, and another with birthdays. All Notre Dame students use Google mail, and any student can subscribe to my course calendar, making it readily accessible when checking Gmail.

In order to encourage folks at Notre Dame to consider using this tool, I created a shell calendar for Spring 2011 with key academic dates and other events – along with instructions for importing the dates into a course calendar.

Add the shell to your Google Calendar display

  1. Log into Google and select the Calendar tool
  2. On the left side of the screen, below “Other Calendars,” click “Add”
  3. Select “Add by URL”
  4. Paste this address into the box that comes up:
  5. If you want the calendar to be public, check the box. Now click “Add Calendar”

To verify that it worked, click the “Month” display option and look at January, 2011.

Import the shell dates into your calendar

  1. Click the drop-down menu to the right of the calendar name and choose “Calendar settings”
  2. By “Calendar Address,” click the ICAL button
  3. Right-click the address (Control-click on a Mac) and save the file (it will be called basic.ics)
  4. Click OK, then Cancel to return to the calendar window
  5. If you don’t already a course calendar, create one now by clicking “Add” under the “My Calendars” list
  6. To add the events from the shell calendar to your course calendar, click “Add” under “Other Calendars”
  7. Select “Import Calendar” and choose the basic.ics file you saved earlier
  8. By “Calendar,” indicate your course calendar and click “Import.” Confirmation will appear after a few seconds.
  9. To remove the shell calendar from your display, click “Settings” below the “My Calendars” list and click “Unsubscribe” to the right of the calendar name

Presto! You have the beginnings of a Spring 2011 course calendar, ready for you to add classes, due dates, exams, and special events. You can even embed the calendar in Concourse (Blackboard Vista and Notre Dame) or on a page on your course website or blog.

If you’d like to explore an even more ambitious technique, see this ProfHacker article.

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