OK. I decided I had to learn how to use Microsoft Bookings so that I could save the College $95 on my annual Calendly subscription next year. I plan to offer some of my office hours online next year even though I expect us to return to face-to-face teaching. I think it would be convenient for students to avoid a trip to campus to just ask a couple questions. If no one takes the appointments I can take drop ins.
I found this as easy and intuitive as most Microsoft products. I say that in the same tone that I used to say, “My pass rates in online Math 080 are as good as my pass rates in face-to-face Math 080” to describe online success to those unfamiliar with our developmental pass rates at the time.
The real key I finally figured out is there is a Booking Page that is where you set your general settings and a Services page where you set up the actual office hours. You can see these titles on the left pane navigation. At the Booking page:
- You can set the length of your appointments.
- You can set the lead time- unbooked appointments can no longer be booked if you get within the lead time in hours. This can be helpful if you have office hours right after a class.
- You should select general availability to be Custom hours (recurring weekly). Choose your office hours in the region below there using x to remove a day and + when the hours are not contiguous.
- Exclude dates like Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s Birthday (Observed) and spring break by selecting those dates and choosing Not bookable.
At the services page you can set up difference kind of appointments called services. Each is a box that students can select. I just made one kind of appointment so no selection had to be made.
- Service name: I changed this to office appointment
- Description: I used 20 minute sessions to discuss the course
- Default location: used Zoom and my personal Zoom room
- Buffer time: I turned this off. If your appointments require time to regroup between meetings you could add a 5 or 10 minute gap.
- Let customers . . . : I turned this on, but I doubt I ever schedule one for a student.
- Default price: I picked free. I didn’t think I could get away with a fee.
- Notes: I ignored this field
- Custom Fields: It was hell to figure out how to use this. Eventually I figured out that clicking on the name made things appear or disappear. I made email required, phone optional (so they could get texts), turned off the default text box, and use the menu at the top to add a drop down question about the student’s course (required) and a text box question (optional) about what they hope to accomplish in the meeting. Click every OK and save you see anywhere in your house and expect to lose half the work anyway.
- I did set up reminders and customize the confirmation to remind students of my Zoom room.
…is not a thing. But, it can be faked. Do not turn on “Add Online Meeting” at your booking page unless you want to set up Microsoft Team meetings. (If you do this is very convenient!). If you want a Zoom meeting having this on will just add confusion about where to meet. Instead add your personal Zoom room as the meeting location and turn on the waiting room in Zoom so that you can control who is in the appointment.
EMBED in Hfconline
I did some work in my sandbox section of HFCOnline (I have a co-requisite course and do not use the shell for the support course) to see how this looked. I put a link at the top of the page. Then I wanted to embed this directly. On the Booking Page of Bookings you can find embed near the top of the screen. I copied this and pasted it into a section using the HTML editor (</> button) and not the default what-you-see-is-what-you-get-editor. I was not happy with the size that height=”100%” gave when I pasted the iframe in as HTML in the edit section area. I changed it to height=”900″. The huge drawback to this is that if a student leaves the section open then they have to scroll a lot to see other content. I will probably just train them not to leave the relevant section open. Maybe I will add a “Use the arrow to close this section when not in use to save screen space.”
This will now put the appointments in your HFC calendar. Good luck. If your brain works like mine it will take time to master. But, you will save yourself $95 or the College $95 or allow the $95 to be diverted to other expenses to improve student learning.