As I tweeted the other day, I want a better way to let students schedule meetings with me, but I don’t want to make my Google Calendar public. And I asked the World Brain for suggestions. I got several: Doodle, TimeBridge (including a tweet from the VP of Marketing and Business Development of TimeBridge), Tungle, and simply blocking out time in Google Calendar. I also saw this post on Prof. Hacker, which reviews Acuity.

Here’s the problem: I want my students to be able to schedule meetings with me, with a minimum of intervention on my part. This has occurred to me in the past, but this semester it became really obvious that something had to be done. It’s advising time now — students are thinking about the courses they want to register for, in the Summer and Fall. So I’m getting a bunch of requests for advising meetings. It’s also coming up on the due date for Masters papers, so I’m getting requests for meetings from my Masters paper advisees, to discuss their methodology, findings, etc. All of that is pretty typical. But this is only the second semester that I’ve been the Field Experience Director for SILS… so the new addition here is that I’m also getting many requests for meetings to discuss field experiences. I’ve spent way too much time in the past few weeks scheduling meetings with students. Too much time on administration, not enough time on actual work.

So, I want my students to be able to schedule meetings with me, without my having to explicitly suggest times, and then half the time play email-tag as we repeatedly suggest times that don’t work. I have to say, most students are very good about accommodating me — I am the faculty member after all, even though I try not to exploit or even acknowledge my position of power — I think students generally cave to the idea that they need to adapt to their professor’s schedule. Still, as I often say, tools are available, we should use them. So, how to do this?

As I said, I don’t want to make my Google Calendar public. I know that I could share only my free/busy information. But if I make my Google Calendar public, I then have to block off times that I don’t want people to schedule meetings with me — times like 8 AM, time I’m riding the bus to & from campus, all day Monday when I want to work at home, etc. And I’d really like the events on my Google Calendar to be actual events, and not just “me time.” I have enough cruft in my personal information space, I don’t want non-events visually cluttering up my Google Calendar.

Despite the personal outreach from TimeBridge — by the way, nice use of social media, guys, if you’re reading this — I decided against it. My problem is not finding a time for a multi-person meeting, as it would be in an office setting. My problem is how to let someone else schedule a one-on-one meeting with me.

Doodle is a good idea: it’s easy to use, it’s probably familiar to most of my students, it integrates with Google Calendar. But I’d have to change the poll pretty frequently, to allow students to schedule meetings weeks in advance, and also to adjust for my time commitments that I didn’t schedule through Doodle.

Acuity does what I want, but I found the interface to be kind of cumbersome. And it has some unnecessary (for me) functionality around payments. I’d love to be able to charge for my time for meetings — “So, how much is that PIN worth to you?”… “I’ll come to the faculty meeting, but it’ll cost ya.” — but really, no.

So far, Tungle wins, and I’ve set it up. That post on Prof. Hacker is right though — the step where the student has to verify their email address is annoying. I also suspect that, like Doodle, I’ll have to tweak my availability in Tungle pretty frequently, to adjust for various unforeseens.

Anyway, the upshot is that I’m trying Tungle, as a better way to let students schedule meetings with me. If you want to schedule a meeting with me, please do so here. Or, even if you don’t want to schedule a meeting — even if you hope to never set foot in my office again — please just try it out. I’d welcome the feedback.