Scheduling Office Hours with Google Calendar Appointments

You can use to Google Calendar’s Appointment slots feature to make scheduling your office hours easier: students can schedule themselves for an available appointment, and you’ll get an automatic email telling you your time has been booked. With Zoom’s recurring meeting feature, you can also use the same setup to manage your virtual office hours.

Creating Your Virtual Office

If you don’t plan to hold virtual office hours–just physical, in person ones–you can skip down to the next section.

The first step is to create your recurring meeting space in Zoom. While you can do this a number of ways–using the web portal, or with a browser plugin–we’ll cover using the Zoom desktop client, which is the simplest and most reliable. (If you’re unfamiliar with the client, here are basic written instructions on scheduling with it, and here are video instructions on scheduling a recurring class meeting with it.)

  1. Open the Zoom client on your computer.
  2. Select the Schedule button.
  3. In the Schedule Meeting dialog, set the following settings:
    • Topic: give the meeting a name of your choice, such as “Virtual Office Hours”
    • Under Date and Time, check the Recurring Meeting box
    • Under Security, we recommend selecting Waiting Room, so students don’t interrupt one another
    • Under Calendar, select the Other Calendars option
    • For other settings, you can use your preferred/usual ones
  4. Click the Save button
  5. This will open up a dialog with the meeting info:
  6. Click the Copy Invitation button, but I also suggest leaving this window open for now, until you’re done with scheduling

The virtual meeting space now exists for you to use; your next step is to connect it to your calendar.

Scheduling Appointment Slots

You now need to specify when your office hours will be on your calendar.

  1. Go to Google Calendar (you may need to log into your Macalester account)
  2. Go to the first day you’ll be holding regular office hours, and start to create the appointment by clicking and dragging over the times you’ll be blocking off for office hours (you could also click the Create button on the top left to get started)
  3. In the dialog box that pops up, instead of making an event, select the Appointment slots option (it’s right under the Add title field):
  1. Click the gray More options button
  2. Specify the following settings:
    • Make sure the date, time and duration of the appointment block is correct
    • Next to slots with duration, specify how many minutes you’d like each appointment to be
    • If you’d like this your office hours to repeat on a regular schedule, select the drop-down menu that says “Does not repeat,” and specify the schedule you’d like. The “Custom…” option gives you the most control, including specifying an end-date for the semester.
    • If you’re making virtual office hours, click on the description field, and paste in the invitation information you copied when you made the Zoom meeting. (You could also add the Zoom link to the Location field above it.)
  3. Click the blue Save button when you’re done.
  4. The appointment block will now appear on your calendar. Check if time and recurrence are correct.
  5. To see the actual appointment slots, click one of the appointment blocks, and then click “Go to appointment page for this calendar” link:
  1. In this public calendar, you should see each block broken up into appointment slots:

Please note: if you (or your students) don’t see any appointments on the appointment page, make sure you’re looking at the right week. The page defaults to the current week (which you might not have any appointments scheduled for). To move to another week, use the blue arrows at the top right.

  1. This appointment page is where students will schedule appointments, and what you need to share with them in order to do so. While on the page, go to the browser’s address bar, and copy the URL there. Send them the link whatever way works best for you: a digital version of the syllabus, the Moodle page, email, etc.

That’s it! Students just need to visit that appointment page, pick a slot, and it’ll automatically send both you and them a Google Calendar event invitation for that time.

If you added the Zoom link above, that email will include the Zoom link and meeting invite information.

Notes and Tips

  • We recommend that you keep the waiting room on during office hours to manage entry /departure and preserve privacy. Tell your students that they might need to wait a few minutes before you invite them. Consider setting a custom waiting room message, and enabling the enter/exit chime (so it’s more obvious when people are waiting). Here’s more info from Zoom on the waiting room.
  • Feel free to schedule a test meeting with yourself to verify that it’s working (and get to know what the process is like).
  • If that appointment page URL feels unwieldy, use a service like TinyURL or TinyCC to shorten it (or hide it behind a link’s display text).