From arranging student office hours to organizing teaching and committee meetings, the world of academia involves a lot of scheduling. While these meetings are important to successfully delivering classes and helping address individual student needs, they often require a lot of time to coordinate the meetings themselves. It’s no easy task to organize and keep track of the various meetings with students, colleagues, and administrative staff. With busy schedules, finding a convenient time to meet can be a challenge, which is often made more complicated and lengthy by relying on email.
But in all honesty, scheduling meetings need not be so difficult. I have been using the online scheduling tool Doodle for quite some time to coordinate all of my education meetings. The reason is simple: it offers a variety of features and integrations that streamline, automate and speed up the scheduling process. That means I can save many hours every week and refocus that time on other more important priorities.
From finding a convenient time to meet with colleagues to arranging office hours with students, Doodle makes my work life so much easier. To help other educators out, I’ve outlined the many types of education meetings you can schedule with Doodle.
Meeting Type 1: Committee Meetings
The first way Doodle can help simplify scheduling within academic institutions is by using its Group Meeting feature. This is a convenient way of collecting the availability of several participants to help identify meetings when the greatest number of individuals can attend. It’s perfect for determining the best time for committee or teaching meetings and allows everyone to indicate their availability, without the need for a chain of back and forth emails. Relying on emails to book meetings is not only tiresome and can take days (even weeks), but it can also lead to scheduling delays, mistakes and double-booked appointments.
Some of the key benefits of using Doodle to schedule committee meetings include:
- Avoid frustrations for organizers and attendants alike: The process of finding a mutually convenient meeting time can be difficult for both organizers and attendees alike. Meeting organizers need to piece together availability across multiple stakeholders (sometimes, both internal and external). On top of this, long email chains trying to get agreement on a meeting time can be a slow process and cause confusion when you’re coordinating across different time zones. Doodle’s Group Meeting feature solves this issue by allowing everyone to easily indicate their availability without the need for back and forth emails.
- View the most convenient time at a glance: Even when individuals respond with their availability, it can be difficult to ascertain what time works for the greatest number of people. And if you’re using email, that requires having to filter through your inbox (which is likely quite full) to find every participant’s response and then cross-checking to confirm what day and time works for everyone. Doodle’s Group Meeting feature makes it simple to determine the time slots with the greatest availability at a glance.
- Increase meeting attendance: Given the traditional coordination difficulties of finding a convenient time for multiple faculty members whose schedules are extremely busy and already overloaded with meetings, it’s not uncommon for a coordinator to set the meeting times without first surveying availability. Having a convenient way of gauging availability for multiple possible time slots, that’s simple for both the organizer to set up and faculty to respond to, helps identify a time when the greatest number of faculty are able to attend.
Meeting Type 2: Office Hours with Students
Doodle offers a dedicated Bookable Calendar feature that is perfect for scheduling office hours. The tool allows faculty to configure a series of bookable appointment slots that students are able to sign up for, without having to wait for them to respond to emails and cross checking your calendar to avoid double bookings. Students will automatically receive a calendar invite once they’ve selected one of the available time slots in the Bookable Calendar, which can include a link to the virtual meeting space for remote office hours.
Some of the key advantages for students include:
- Inviting sign-up process: The process of finding mutually convenient time by email can be difficult and off-putting, especially those students most in need of help. The ease at which meetings can be booked using Doodle’s Bookable Calendar helps make office hours much more inviting and accessible to everyone.
- Details automatically confirmed: Booked meeting slots are automatically confirmed with a calendar invite – helping students keep track and remember their appointments.
Some of the key advantages for faculty include:
- Simplify the signup process: Bookable Calendar can help save considerable time involved in emailing all of the students in your classes. By using Doodle’s Bookable Calendar feature, the entire process is automated and doesn’t require much work or time to confirm and even reschedule their office hours appointments.
- Be in full control of your schedule (and time): You can set specific rules for how you want meetings to be booked. For example, you can set a minimum notice period if you want to avoid last-minute meetings (and allow yourself to fully prepare ahead of time). You can also set the available work hours (i.e. 9 am – 6 pm, or 1-5 pm might work better based on your priorities and workload). Now, if you tend to have meetings run over their allotted time, you can set a buffer time (i.e. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, etc.) so that back-to-back meetings are no longer possible.
- Collect information about the meeting in advance: The Custom Questions feature allows you to collect details about what students want to discuss in advance. You can set the custom questions to be mandatory or optional. This will help you prepare for the meetings ahead of time and ensure that the meeting stays on track.
- Book on behalf of others: Imagine your school is interviewing candidates for an open faculty position. Before a final offer can be made, the top candidates need to be vetted by senior executives and officials on the board. That requires booking a panel-style group meeting between several internal stakeholders and each candidate. With Book on behalf, you can now sync the calendars of all your internal stakeholders to show everyone’s availability before sending the Bookable Calendar link to each candidate. Simple, fast and effortless.
Meeting Type 3: One-to-One Meetings with Colleagues
Another way Doodle can help in scheduling appointments is by using the one-to-one meetings feature. This is a great way of sharing possible meeting options with a colleague, allowing them to then select the most convenient day and time for them.
Some of the key benefits of scheduling one-to-one meetings with Doodle include:
- Identifies mutually convenient meeting times: With Doodle’s 1:1 feature, you can offer up a variety of time slots that are available in your calendar.
- Integrates easily with your calendars: Because your Google and Office 365 calendars are connected through your Doodle account, you can ensure that only available times will be shown to participants. This means you can say goodbye to double bookings, which is a win-win for you and anyone you meet with. And you don’t have to worry about then going into your calendar and sending an official invitation – Doodle takes care of that for you once the meeting time has been confirmed.
- Automatically sends calendar invitations: One of the ways that scheduling one-on-one meetings on Doodle helps save time is that it automatically sends out a calendar invite and optionally a link to your video conferencing meeting, ensuring that you both have details of the meeting.
Meeting Type 4: Appointment Sign Ups with Guests
Another way that Doodle can simplify the meeting creating process is to create a sign-up slot schedule for meeting with a guest speaker or a job candidate. Creating an itinerary for visiting faculty often involves a lot of coordination. There’s a need to balance all of the faculty who want to meet with the guest and ensure that the guest’s itinerary is full.
A publicly viewable signup sheet makes it easy for faculty to sign up for slots at the time that best suits them, allowing the majority of meetings to be filled, while also allowing adjustments to be made to help finalize the schedule. Once most meeting slots are filled, it’s easy for faculty to coordinate amongst themselves, potentially swapping meeting slots or pairing up to accommodate more individuals.
Some of the ways that this can help streamline the scheduling of guest meetings include:
- Create a schedule with limited oversight required: Trying to coordinate a meeting schedule among multiple participants by email can be a lengthy and difficult process. Using Doodle to coordinate booking meeting slots can significantly simplify the need to compile availability information and shorten the time it takes to finalize a guest’s itinerary.
- Flexibility for faculty to adjust and reschedule their slots without involving the coordinator: Adjustments can be made informally, directly by the faculty wanting to make the change, without needing to involve the host.
- Removing politics in meeting scheduling: One of the real issues of scheduling a series of meetings is navigating the politics of determining who is on the schedule if it’s not possible to accommodate all meeting requests. A shared, first- come, first-served online signup can help increase transparency in how the meeting schedule was formed, reducing the need for the coordinator to decide who should and shouldn’t be on the schedule.
If you’re looking for a scheduling tool to improve your education meeting processes and want to compare Doodle to other solutions, visit our competitor comparison page.