Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Online Calendar Woes

I had my usual office hours this morning; I'd just finished talking with a student, and moved the computer mouse to change from the screensaver to open email thing, where I saw an appointment pop up. Usually, the only way the computer email appointment thing pops up is when I make arrangements for a class to go to the library for library instruction, and the librarian sends a request, and I accept it, and then it goes on my system calendar. Other than that I don't use the calendar.

Instead, I have this amazing little paper thing that I carry with me and write in. I can flip back and see when I had an appointment; I can flip forward and see when I'm able to give blood again, when birthdays are, all sorts of stuff. (Yes, I have to write that in every year, but it takes about fifteen minutes all told, and it's not that hard. And I get to use different colors for different things, which is fun.)

The people who use the system calendar thing tend to be administrators whose secretaries control their appointment calendar. Everything goes on there, and then the administrator opens their iphone or whatever during meetings and flips through instead of paying attention. (Not that I'd notice, except, yes, it happens way more often than students disrupting things with texting.) But, since I don't synch my life with the computer nor do I have a secretary to control my appointments, I don't use the calendar.

Anyway, there's this appointment that's been made, by someone whose name I don't recognize, and I'm just starting to process that I don't know what the heck this is about, when a person walks into my office and says she has an appointment, that she just made it on the computer.

Um, no. The computer doesn't run my life like that, sorry. But, it is office hours, so I take care of her advising needs (and alas, I'm guessing she thought I was a little brusque).

She said that the office of [administrators] told her to make appointments this way and that she could see my free time, so she made an appointment.

I seriously don't have any clue how she did it. I can't figure out that same information by looking at my calendar, nor could the department admin assistant who usually knows how to do stuff.

I don't know if the office of [administrators] is able to check schedules, including office hours, or if she just chanced to make an appointment during what are my regular office hours.

But I sure wish I could figure it out, because I hope no one else creates an appointment and then thinks I should be bound by it. (There's a lot of time that might show on a computer schedule as "free" that's really totally scheduled into meetings or conferencing or something. Or if it's really free, I might even step out of the office and grade at home in my PJs.


  1. If the office of [people making more than you who also have assistants] continue to do this, you can create a recurring "meeting" for yourself, lasting M-F, 8-5, showing that you are busy. Because you ARE busy, whether or not a computer thinks you are!

  2. that's creepy. maybe time to remind students of your office hours, and [assuming you do it this way] the first come, first served policy.

    but i've got a burr up my nose just thinking someone would waltz in and say "your calendar says you are free now." wtf?

  3. Yeah, I'd totally create an all-day everyday meeting for yourself!

    At the other extreme, I was at a meeting last week with the head of the research office, and this random guy walks in without knocking and takes a seat. The head looked surprised and asked him who he was and what he was doing. He said, "Oh, I teach over in [department]. I saw some emails from you recently and thought I'd drop by and put a face to the name. How're you doing?"

    Fortunately the words "in a meeting right now" and "make an appointment" snarled through gritted teeth had an impact.

  4. Ugh. Ask a colleague how to make your calendar invisible. Is it a calendar through a Microsoft program (like Outlook or Entourage) or through Google Calendar? My experience with Microsoft is that you have to give people individual permission to see your calendar, but in Google, I think the default on this campus is for the calendar to show that you're "busy" but not to give any details. If you put your office hours on your digital calendar in Google Calendar, you should show up as "busy." I like TD's tactic of the 8-5 appointment.

    But you should also be able to hide your calendar from everyone, no matter what the program.

  5. Agree with Leslie above - if it is on your desktop, you can control access. Not to mention, everyone is all in your stuff.

    Talk to your IT personnel.