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oh calendar, where art though?

The School of Information is the first place I’ve been in a number of years that doesn’t have a community norm of using a calendaring system. From what I gather, the school’s administrators use MeetingMaker, faculty use nothing, and students use whatever they have with Google Calendar being the most common. Others in the University seem to use Meeting Maker or nothing, except for the lucky few on one of the Exchange servers.

I’m on three teams for courses, with three to five people on each. We’ve gotten pretty good about having regularly scheduled meetings and, when additional meetings are necessary, trying to schedule the next meeting at the end of the previous meeting. That process works okay, but still not as well as when facilitated by Exchange. This also leaves a number meetings which need to be scheduled outside of meetings, as the need arises. For those, we revert to seemingly endless chains of threads of messages.

On one team, we’ve started using a shared Google Calendar, but that’s really only good for keeping track of team meetings we have scheduled. When used as a scheduling tool in groups, the weaknesses — primarily having to seek out other users’ calendars and hoping for appropriate permissions, rather than having the free/busy information shown in context as you try to setup an appointment — quickly make it unmanageable.

I’m whining, I know, but I am going to have to figure something out. After years of taking Exchange’s services for granted, scheduling group meetings by emails back and forth won’t do.

Also: would it be going too far to say that a nontrivial amount of the success we had at Olin, both with involving students alongside staff and faculty in the administration of the school and with student teamwork, was faciliated by having Exchange in our suite of IT services?

{ 4 } Comments

  1. Noor | September 23, 2006 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I believe most of the faculty also use MeetingMaker. Trying to find a good meeting time was always a nightmare at SI. I just learned to demand standing meetings of all of my groups at the beginning of the semester. I’m actually not sure that having Exchange would have helped us all that much. When there isn’t a common free time among four people, there just isn’t! 🙂

  2. sean | September 23, 2006 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    hmm — I think you might be right, and I might have been over-valuing the magic that calendaring software can work.

    When I first wrote, I think I significnatly underappreciated how many more commitments — particularly family and/or part time jobs — the average SI student (including me) has in comparison to my undergrad program.

  3. Brian | September 25, 2006 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Noor’s right, set a standing meeting and cancel.

    The other trick: keep meeting times open in your schedule, and tell other people that this is the time you can meet. Hold court someplace and use the time for yourself if you don’t have the need to use it for others.

    Exchange sucks, meetingmaker that only staff use sucks, etc.

    If you hang out with the right people around SI, they may be using Google Calendar, so you can at least read/feed iCalendar events to and fro’

  4. Eric | September 30, 2006 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Access to other people’s calendars also can shift power relationships quite a bit, which is why I assume the faculty/staff calendaring is kept private. E.g. The only person that has access to my calendar is my wife. For all others, I need to maintain some plausible deniablity of being booked, or else I’d never have any uninterrupted blocks of time to get anything done.

    (For the record, the doctoral students don’t have meeting maker access either, which I find to be a pain, given the frequency of meetings etc that we have with faculty. )

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