AOI | Learning Innovations

Distance Delivery


Scheduling Student Time with Calendly

By Tor de Vries

I teach a range of technology-heavy courses that involved demonstrating software and programming. For the new distance learning model, I am trying to provide the most flexible and expansive student support that I can. This means going almost entirely asynchronous for lectures and demos, and then providing time to be available for live student interactions with Zoom.

For live support, I am working with three key ideas:

  • First, like many faculty, I am using Slack channels for each of my classes. Students can effectively text me through Slack for quick questions or comments, whether public or private. They can also post questions to Blackboard discussion groups. I find it easier to respond quickly that way.
  • Second, I am opening up all my previously-scheduled class time periods as available Zoom meeting times for any of my students. Thus, a student in a morning class can schedule a meeting with me during an afternoon class time. In fact, class schedules are no longer relevant. As Douglas Adams put it, “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.” This provides students with greater flexibility to reach me at times that are more convenient for them. I am adding additional office hours to that range of time, as well.
  • Third, rather than trying to manage the student appointments by email or Slack, I use Calendly (https://calendly.com) to manage appointments. When a student schedules an appointment, Calendly creates a meeting on my Google Calendar which is already integrated with my Android smartphone. Then, my Mac’s Calendar app subscribes to the Google Calendar to provide pop-up reminders on my computer. At the appointed time, I start up the Zoom app and email the student an invitation to the meeting. The free level of Calendly lets you set up 1 type of meeting, but I opted for a paid account to set up 3 types of meetings: students can schedule time in 5, 10, or 20-minute units. The paid levels also provide reminder emails and texts to the student. And if I need to block out time for another type of meeting, I can make my own appointments in the Mac Calendar app or in Google Calendar, and Calendly will automatically remove that time from the available appointments.

So far, this setup — Slack for quick support, opening up every class time to any student, and using Calendly for scheduling — has been really helpful to me as I try to provide organized, flexible support to my students.