The Academic Technology, Support Services and Accessibility teams in ITS have started to test a new, easy to use appointment and meeting scheduling tool called Calendly (https://calendly.com). The Financial Aid office and certain members of the faculty already have implemented this tool as an alternative to the Office Hours Scheduler. Calendly is easier to use and has a friendlier interface for potential appointment makers to find times to meet with you. Calendly can also be used by groups or teams to schedule round-robin style with the next available person, or to find times to meet with a team of people all together.
Calendly does integrate nicely with Zoom and with Google Calendar. You can offer your potential visitors the option to schedule either in-person or Zoom meetings. When you give it permissions to access your Google Calendar and Zoom accounts, Calendly can check potential times against things you already have scheduled, so you don’t get overlapping bookings. Another really useful feature is that you can offer your potential meeting participants the option of meeting in one of several physical places (such as your office, a common space or an outdoor space) or over Zoom. It will automatically, with the Zoom integration, set up that Zoom meeting and add it to your Google calendar. You can block out the times and days that Calendly is allowed to book times, as well as which calendar to check against.
So far, the Financial Aid folks tell us that parents find it very easy to use and effective in finding meeting times for their team. In our testing, it’s been effective too. With Calendly, you have a lot of control over your appointments. Calendly lets you set a bunch of conditions for appointments, such as how far ahead folks can schedule with you. It can limit how long before a possible time you can be scheduled so you don’t suddenly have new meetings, and you can set buffers before and after meetings to allow yourself time for preparation, breaks and recovery. You can also set up secret event types so that only folks, such as a class, or specific group of invitees that have that link, can set up times with you. And Calendly is smart about time zones. There are some quirky elements to the interface for the person setting up Calendly, but it’s very easy for the appointment scheduler to use.
While we are testing this software, it is simply too expensive for ITS to deploy broadly. The cost is under $100/year per person, but that can add up for a group or department, and has to renewed every year.
While we can’t buy it for you, the ITS team will be happy to help you get this tool set up and working, if you choose to try it out. We remain concerned, however, that this tool does not yet fully meet some common accessibility standards, but we’ve been assured that this is a development priority for the company, even if their timeline is a bit long for our preferences.