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Doodle in the Classroom
The Benefits of Online Scheduling

By Michael Näf / July 2011

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The following article was written by the CEO of Doodle, a free online scheduling tool for individuals or organizations. A customizable version is available with a premium upgrade.—eLearn Magazine

Here we are in the year 2011, and even with all of the advancements in technology that have been made, the majority of people still experience difficulties when trying to find a time to get together with a group of individuals. No matter what the meeting is for, schedules differ, special situations have to be considered, and people's attitudes also have to be factored in to the process. To be honest, when you consider all of the challenges that go against you when you try to schedule a group event, you realize how amazing it is that a planned meeting is ever actually fully accomplished. As soon as you walk out that door or leave that conference call, all you can think about is how painful it's going to be to have to start the process all over again.

I first came up with the idea for the online scheduling tool called Doodle years ago when I was simply trying to get on the same page with my friends about when we could all meet for a meal. I quickly became frustrated with the endless stream of e-mail messages that led nowhere and consumed a ridiculous amount of time. I knew that there had to be a better way, so I decided to create a solution.

Because Doodle can be used to arrange so many different gatherings, it's interesting for us to examine how people are using the tool. Sure enough, a lot of our users are sticking closely to the origins of Doodle and using it for personal reasons to find a time to get together with their friends for dinner or a party. But as you can probably imagine, Doodle is also used a lot for business purposes. Sometimes workdays can consist of one meeting after another, so online scheduling can save the people in charge of scheduling these meetings many hours each week.

Since the very beginning, a large number of educators have used Doodle, and we recently noticed a measurable increase in tweets and blog posts from educators who have been able to use Doodle effectively. Because of this, we decided to take a closer look at how Doodle is being used in the educational arena.

Practical Value

At first, some people may wonder why online scheduling would be such a valuable solution in education, but if you're an educator, you don't need to be told why this is the case. Any educator can tell you that their time is in short supply. Not only do they have to keep up with the material that they're teaching, but they also have to explore and understand new material and teaching tools, keep track of their students, coordinate different activities with the faculty, and that's just the beginning. Teachers may primarily be thought of as doing their work when they're teaching in front of a classroom, but there's a whole host of other activities that have to be handled to make the classroom teaching happen.

Therefore, teachers can benefit from tools and practices that save them time and make them more efficient. For example, with Doodle teachers can schedule meetings with faculty members, plan parent-teacher conferences, find a time for a guest speaker to make a presentation to the class, and so on.

We've seen Doodle used in these ways with great success, but it's not just teachers who are using online scheduling in the classroom. Students are also discovering that online scheduling can help them to do things like arrange times for study groups with their friends. Without us even promoting these usage scenarios, teachers and students have been proactive in figuring out how they can make the tool work to their advantage.

Getting Started

It's very easy to get started with Doodle because the basic service doesn't require you to register or download anything. When you arrive at the Website, you simply click on the button that invites you to schedule an event and you're ready to go.

From here you enter the basic information about the event and your name. After that, you'll select the date options that you'd like to offer and then you can specify the possible times on those dates. At this point, you'll see that there are other settings Doodle offers that can be customized for specific situations, but for new users, the best way to experience what Doodle can do is to just continue to use the basic poll. Finally, to get the word out to your contacts, you can either choose to send the participation link to them directly or have Doodle send the link and keep track of the progress.

As people participate, you'll start to see which time works the best for everyone, and as soon as all of the votes are in, you'll have a definitive answer to go with.

Example

To help you fully understand how Doodle can be used in an educational setting, I'd like to share the following real-life example. When Curriculum Manager Erin Seay at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine first began providing support for a major initiative toward a revision of the curriculum in the spring of 2009, she faced a daunting task—coordinating multiple meetings for 15 committees, each made up of approximately 18 faculty members.

Even more challenging was the fact that not everyone shared the same calendar system. "A member of our faculty recommended I look into using the Doodle online scheduling tool, so I did and was immediately sold. I relied solely upon Doodle to schedule weekly committee meetings throughout the four months it took for us to complete this part of our curriculum revision—I couldn't have done it any other way. The tool is very easy to use; it was great for me, as the administrator, to be able to actually 'see' in a visual representation participants' availabilities and who was confirmed for each meeting. Many of our faculty members were also impressed with how effortlessly we were able to get the meetings scheduled—so much so that several now use Doodle for everyday personal scheduling."

Erin uses the tool's polling and scheduling capabilities and then embeds the meeting links on the school's CERE intranet; all faculty and staff have access to CERE, but many of them have disparate calendar systems. Doodle enabled Erin to close the gap between everyone's calendars and cut what would have otherwise been a laborious and time-consuming weekly scheduling process down from hours to minutes. "We have another major curriculum revision initiative coming up this fall and Doodle will again be critical to our efforts."

Coclusion

I hope this information has helped you to identify ways in which online scheduling can enhance the way you do what you do as an educator. Please contact us if you have any questions about Doodle or online scheduling in general, and we'd love to hear about any success stories that you have while using the tool so that we can share them with other members of the educational community.

About the Author

Michael Näf is the CEO of Doodle , which is the world's leading online scheduling tool. Doodle is based in Zurich, Switzerland and is used by more than six million people per month.


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