Author: Amy Edwards-Smith – Lecturer, School of Community Health and Midwifery
I have found that with learning switching to being solely online, students are missing out on dropping into the office to chat, which is crucial to developing rapport and creating a supportive learning community. I wanted to make myself available to students to drop in, digitally. After researching platforms and systems, I found the Bookings app on Teams. The Bookings app allows students to select an available appointment. You can be notified by email, and the Teams meeting is automatically included in both calendars. It works with my outlook calendar to create available booking slots, and you can set your office hours (crucial with regards to flexible working). In addition, you can also add multiple staff members which is beneficial if there are multiple lecturers on a module.
Engagement has been good with students feeding back that the system is simple to navigate. Students are often feeling apologetic for ‘bothering’ staff, and the system avoids this. Furthermore, I am promoting contact, so those students who may not feel comfortable asking for help are accessing support.
Initially it takes a small amount of time to set up, however the time saved in terms of messages requesting availability from which need to be cross checked with calendars (and of course, replied to) has been worth the investment. As expected, I can create these quickly now as I have used it on multiple occasions. I also appreciate the fact it is GDPR compliant as there is not a need to provide students access to your calendar.
Top tip: remember to book your lunch breaks into your calendar, or they could potentially be eaten up with student bookings! It is worth noting that it will use every available slot in your calendar within your office hours, so it is a good idea to create appointments if you need to hold space for tasks.
I have created a very step by step guide which begins by illustrating a student’s view before continuing to explain the set-up process and optional functions. I hope you find it helpful.