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3 tools for booking office hours online

August 25, 2015

[Image by Hoangttu from Wikimedia Commons]

We all know it’s good for students to take advantage of office hours. The CRLT at Michigan says they are “crucial to creating good relations between you and your students … [and] provide a valuable opportunity for individualized teaching and learning.” One great bit of advice is to survey students about when they are available before determining your office hours.

In my course I sometimes require a meet-the-prof session in my office; we get early one-on-one time and the student learns where I hang out. For voluntary sessions, choosing neutral turf like a coffee shop makes things less scary and allows one to entice reticent students with offers of free beverages.

If you want to have an idea how many are going to show up for office hours, then students will need to make appointments. While paper sign-up sheets are fine, many folks handle the process with a shared Google Doc or wiki page in the form of a grid. The grid cells are labeled as chunks of time and students edit themselves into the boxes for their desired hours. Then they pray that their names are not replaced or the times altered. The tools listed below are more sophisticated, offering additional security and options like slots where only a fixed number of students can sign up.

Tools that let students sign up online for office hours

  • Google Appointment Slots – at one point Google said these were going away, but they still exist. You’ll need a work or school account. This is the recommended solution at Notre Dame.
  • – there’s a free version and right now .edu accounts receive a 50% discount. This tool integrates with either a Google or Apple calendar and I have a colleague who loves it.
  • Sakai – the Sign-Up tool lets you schedule appointments. It’s not connected to an outside calendar and the tool is hidden at Notre Dame. However, we can use the Site Editor to create a “Joinable Set” of groups named by date and time (see image below).


One Comment leave one →
  1. Kristin Lewis permalink
    August 26, 2015 9:54 am

    I love you can book me! I always wonder about the neutral location issue, I had been having office hours in Jordan Cafe for a while. But a colleague suggested that it might actually be more intimidating to approach a faculty member in a public space where everyone can hear your conversation.

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