Tuesday’s Tools: Calendars & Appointments

One of the best parts of starting a new year is to break out that fresh, new calendar you just picked up for half-off at the store only selling calendars for December. Calendars help us get organized and refreshed with each new calendar year. The clutter that accumulates leading to the end of the year is now forgotten as we move forward.

We should all take advantage of this opportunity to try out an online application or two that will make our schedules easier to maintain in 2012…

Google Calendar is the premier online calendar that lets users share their calendars with the world or just a select few. The sharing options make it possible for one to share a calendar with others in their Google contacts list. For public sharing, there is an active URL and even an embedding option for those who want their calendars to accessible from any site. Users can manage multiple calendars using Google Calendar easily through a seamless color-coding system. I am able to share calendars both for work and family without crossing the two. Additionally, these calendars are accessible from any online device.

For those looking to break free of Google’s grip on their online lives, there are other options available. Yahoo! has an online calendar. Calendar tools from the likes of Keep and Share, Clock Share, and Famundo all feature similar usability without requiring a Google account.

Just looking for some basic calendars to check dates and other timely events? Try TimeAndDate.com. Besides some basic and printable calendars, Time and Date also offer weather, sunset, sunrise, timers, and calculators. Plus, users can customize their own calendars.

Sometimes, we need a way for others to schedule appointments or meetings. As with online calendars, there are several tools that can also make these tasks easier. ClickBook and CheckAppointments are free and easy-to-use online scheduling tools intended for small businesses, but there could be many uses in terms of scheduling meetings with parents or colleagues. Other online scheduling tools include GenBook and Acuity Scheduling.

Of course, maybe the most popular online scheduling tool around these parts is Doodle. With Doodle, users the ability to schedule meetings with a variety of people and schedules in one place. Simply set up a “Doodle poll” to figure out what times and dates are best for your participants. The results will help you schedule a meeting time that will work for all those involved.

Of course, many of us still use our desktop calendar and email tools for all of our scheduling and calendar management. There’s nothing wrong with this practice. It may even be the most efficient use of resources for you. To get the most out of your Microsoft Outlook software, check out the tips from Microsoft’s own site. For iCal users, try iCal World’s list of tips. If you’re still in the hunt for the best desktop calendar tools out there, check out Lifehacker’s top-5 desktop calendar applications.

What tools do you use to maintain your schedules and calendars? How could these tools be used to improve communication between you and students, parents, or colleagues? Are there ways in which teaching students to use these tools valuable to their own time management?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: Google Calendar

It was recently announced that Google Calendar has added color coding for events. Now, you can code certain kinds of events with particular colors. This is just one of many ways Google Calendar (a free tool) makes it easier to organize your life personally and professionally.

Below are some other features Google Calendar (GC) has in store for you:

  • There is a sharing feature on GC that allows you to keep a calendar with one person or even a group of people. You may even decide to make a calendar public so that anyone can see it.
  • Embedding is available so that you can display your calendar on any website the utilizes html code. I have posted calendars on blogs and in Moodle portals as well as helped teachers insert them into their class websites.
  • With so many electronic devices at our disposal, it’s good to know that one can sync a Google Calendar with any computer using Microsoft Outlook or Apple iCal. Plus, there are apps for accessing GC from your smart phone.
  • One can maintain multiple calendars on a single Google account. So, if you want to keep two separate calendars for school and home, it is possible to that and more.
  • For those who need an agenda that doesn’t necessarily come in calendar form, GC features an agenda view that lists the events for your day or week ahead. Additionally, you may set up a calendar to email your daily agenda when you’re on the move.
  • Among the many great add-ons available in Google Labs, GC has a “jump to date” tool which allows users the ability to simply go directly to a date instead of scrolling or searching through calendars.
  • Desktop or mobile notifications can be set up to provide reminders just before an event so that you don’t lose track of time.
  • For those who work best with lists, GC provides a to do list tool that can keep you on task.
  • Often, a meeting or other event requires a certain spreadsheet, document, presentation, etc. With GC, you can attach documents to an event with ease. Either by simply uploading a file or connecting to a Google Doc, this feature makes it simple to come prepared.

Do you use Google Calendar? What are some different features that make Google Calendar a useful tool for you?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Thursday’s Tip: Preflection

One of the great things about working for eMINTS is that you are constantly exposed to some great teaching and facilitation ideas. Today’s tip comes from PD4ETS participant Delyn Bogle of Cameron, MO. Delyn calls his idea “preflection.”

A “preflection” is a reflection one writes for one’s future self. Delyn suggested that after a year of professional development training, it would be interesting to have teachers reflect on all their accomplishments over the year. He suggested using an online tool such as Google Calendar or FutureMe.org to send a message containing one’s preflection. The preflection is a sneaky way of getting teachers to set goals for the coming year. The online tools insure that the teachers are able to revisit these goals in a year.

The same can be done for students at any point in a school year. Google Calendar could work, but FutureMe sometimes contains some adult content. So, be aware. You can always have your students write their preflections the old-fashioned way as a letter on paper and put them away to be opened at a later date.

What other possibilities do you see for preflections? Are there other online tools that could help in sending preflections?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.