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Use appointment slots in Google Calendar to automate office hours scheduling

If you're anything like me, you spend too much time emailing back and forth with students to schedule meetings (and let's be honest - any time that you're spending doing a menial task that could be eliminated with technology is time that you aren't being productive or relaxing). Today, Google announced a new feature of their Calendar web app that will seriously simplify office hour scheduling.

The new feature, dubbed 'appointment slots,' appears when you click on a free time space while viewing your calendar.

Like a regular events, you can schedule recurring times every week when you hold office hours. Google also provides the option to specify appointment length. Provide your students with the URL to your personal appointment sign-up page (the personal URL will appear when editing details of an appointment slot), and they'll be able to see your available slots and sign up for an appointment.

When a student schedules an appointment, the slot he or she selected will disappear from the appointment sign-up page.

You'll see student appointments auto-populate your calendar and appear on top of your scheduled office hour blocks.

Ready to try it out? Book an appointment with me!

Additional Tips

  • Consider using a URL shortening service ( is my favorite) to create a short (and memorable) URL that redirects to your appointment page. You can paste the short URL on your syllabi, your course website, or even print it out and post it on your office door.
  • Traditionally, instructors offer office hours during the same times each week. However, using Google Calendar to automate student appointment scheduling opens up the possibility of having variable office hours, since students can always look online to see when the next available times are and reserve a slot.
  • You may need to remind students to put their name in the "Description" field when signing up for appointments. Many people have Google account IDs that are something other than their name (e.g.,
  • If you manually create an appointment during your scheduled office hours, the concurrent appointment slots will still be available through your appointment sign-up page. Don't forget to change duration of the block so you don't end up double-booked.

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Reader Comments (2)

Great post, Dr. Yale and sorry I'm just now finding it. Did they discontinue that feature inside Google Calendar? I see you're using now but was wondering if that was a personal choice or because Google phased it out?

September 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLucy Barber

Lucy - Google still offers the Appointment Slots feature through Google Apps for Education accounts, but it has been phased out for regular Gmail and Google Apps users, which is why I've switched to

October 22, 2013 | Registered CommenterRobert N. Yale

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