When teaching online it is important to know how to schedule your tutoring sessions online as well or let your students pick times. In this article I will show you how you can do exactly that.
Methods of Students Booking:
- Email Calendar
- LMS or CMS
- Third Party Website
- Mobile Apps
When you are looking for a calendar to use for your students to book themselves in for your free time there are many options available. We will dig into the categories above and give you some real examples of what you can use.
The first way you could let your students pick times or for you to do it as well is through your email calendar. Lets look at some of these options now.
While this is a well used platform for creating meetings internally in organisations or with external parties and has all the features you need. If you new ahead of time that all of your students where using Outlook as well you could share your calendar with them if they where on the same email server. This is true for Educational Institutes that provide their students with an email address using the web based version of Office 365.
Then you could make your calendar public with availability only with your students and either book them in for tutoring times or let them request times when you are available. Where it falls down is if you are booking tutoring sessions with anyone online. There is no web based calendar tool that students can book time in with you without having a Office 365 account though. You could still send them a meeting request to any email address though.
Lotus Notes only allows sharing within the same organisation of calendars. It does have a web based email login but only for each organisation and not for everyone on the internet like Office 365.
Apple Calendar in iCloud
You can share your calendar via a link in iCould with apple as well by sending a link via an email. Then they can request to book time in with you. You can either put the link on each tutors online profiles on your website protected student section. Attach it to their email footer. Or have them email it out to students as required. Or even better all three.
Probably one of the easiest to set up and use as a public calendar. Since 74% of people now have an android phone it means most of your students will be able to directly access your public calendar and the rest can be sent a link. This is probably the best method if you have signed your business up with a business account at gmail.
LMS or CMS
If you are using a Content Management System (CMS) or a Learning Management System (LMS) then you will generally add appointment functionality through a plugin. A plugin is basically a single click add on to your website that will give you the extra functionality you will need. Once you have a CMS or LMS installed there will be a Plugin link in your Admin area that will allow you to install these new plugins. You can also search for these plugins either directly on the CMS or LMS website or through your Plugin page of your Admin area of your website as well.
Moodle is the biggest used open source LMS learning platform that is web based. Moodle has two plugins that you could use for students to book in time with you in your available time. The first is Scheduler which is more generic tool for booking time with anyone. The second is Tutorial Booking which is specifically for one on one tutoring sessions. Both of these tools will help you do what you want with students that are registered with your website.
As you would expect with 35% of the worlds websites running on WordPress, which is also 64% of all Content Management Systems being used as per W3Techs. You would expect a lot of Appointment Tools that you could use on your WordPress website. A search for Appointments in the Plugins directory gives you 295 results at the writing of this article and you can look at some of them here yourself. So you have plenty to choose from.
Some of the most popular appointment tools are:
- Easy Appointments
- Appointment Hour Booking
- Amelia – Events & Appointments Booking Calendar
- Appointment Booking Calendar
Other CMS and LMS Websites
There are other Content Management Systems and Learning Management systems that you could use but these are the main three. If you were using Drupal or Joomla you could also search in their plugin directories for appointment plugins you could use as well.
Third Party Website
There are literally hundreds of websites for booking appointments online but we will focus on some of the commonly used ones you can use. These float to the top due to their ease of use and in some cases due to them being free. The free versions generally have ads which pay for the website to run. If you don’t want ads and want to be more professional then you will have to pay for a subscription.
Probably the best know website and one each of your trainers can sign up to individually for a free account. They can get one event type and one calendar for free. Great if you are a single tutor as well as a business. The other pricing plans are here as well. It also has integration with multiple email calendar platforms like Google, Outlook and more.
It is very easy to set up and one that I use for myself.
This website is very similar to Calendly but it does not give you a permently free account. It only gives you a free account for your first 50 bookings and then you have to pay for the service. That being said when you actually pay for the service you have unlimited staff and calendars. So while I prefer Calendly for my personal use for the free account I would use SimplyBook.me if I was going to pay for the service. More information on their pricing and features can be found here. Just like with all of these types of tools there is integration with your existing email calendar systems like google or outlook.
This website is totally free and not only does it allow for Tutor appointments bookings but also for Classroom Bookings as well. Once you sign up you can either use their web page or put booking buttons on your own website. Like all of the other appointment tools is integrates to your email calendar tool like Google or Outlook.
As you would expect there are a whole heap of mobile phone applications you can use to book appointments as well. They either work in conjunction with a previously mentioned CMS or LMS plugin or website or require each user wanting to make an appointment to have the application. So this would mean if students wanted to make a tutoring appointment with you then they would have to download the application. It will then keep you both informed of upcoming events via phone notifications.
If you want something with up to 4 accounts free with their own calendars and with an optional payment system then check out SetMore. It also has a desktop as well as mobile application.
This is another mobile application and web page combo tool but while it looks good on the front end there is no free version and only a 14 day free trial. The plans are more restrictive that the other tools we have looked at.
By far the best to use tools from my point of view are the ones that are part of my Learning Management System and integrate with my personal email account. The web based tools that integrate with my personal email calendar to remind me up of upcoming tutoring sessions is great too. Once you start using one of the two groups of tools you will wonder how you go along with out them. If you use one plugged into your LMS then you can do your payment processing through there. If you use a website version then one with a payment system for each appointment simplifies the whole process of organizing payment as well.
Now that you know one of the possible features of a Learning Management System how about your check out this article on the rest of the features of an LMS.