How to set up online appointment booking for advising/experiments in academic department
April 17, 2011 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Recommendations to set up an online appointment booking system for student advising appointments and psychological experiment participation in a medium-sized academic department?

My academic department would like to set up a way for students to (1) sign-up online for academic advising appointments, and (2) sign-up for participating in experiments.

For advising appointments, the system should have the functionality of students being able to sign up for time slots, and they shouldn't be able to sign up for a time slot already taken, but they shouldn't have privileges to change anything other than their appointments (say if they decide to cancel it or reschedule it). Also the staff should be able to set up when appointments are available.

For the experiment participation, I know there are professional services like sona systems and experimetrix but I was curious if there might be other, less high-power (and cheaper!) solutions, especially say, for studies where the experimental participants are being paid only and not receiving course credit.

Finally, I'm wondering if it would make sense to have a system to handle both tasks of scheduling advising appointments and experiments.

Cost is a factor--it would be nice if this were as cheap as possible, while still solving the problem. I've thought about using Google calendar, which didn't seem to be able to handle the different levels of privileges needed (see functionality required for advising appointments), and I've also tried Genbook, which seemed appropriate, but possibly too expensive.

Thank you so much!
posted by KDj82kao to Education (8 answers total)
Have you looked at for scheduling advising? You can make it so only one person can pick a time and that people can't see who has taken other slots. You can't verify anyone's identity, but that may be fine for advising. I don't know if it would work for experiment participation.
posted by about_time at 1:15 PM on April 17, 2011

Mod note: removed the bold because it was making everyone crazy.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:20 PM on April 17, 2011

Best answer: Go talk to the Computer Science department. Many CS programs will have some sort of practicum course where student teams build applications like this as their project. If that's not an option there, they can probably send out an email message to students for your department to offer a summer internship/research credit to build a custom web application for your purposes. This could likely be done through work-study if that's an option (assuming you're in the US). If you ask around, I bet other departments have had CS students do projects like this for them before and can offer suggestions.

My main suggestion would be to be clear at the outset exactly what you want to get out of this, which means that the whole department should be in some sort of agreement. Frequent change requests, or worse, a war between two professors over the background color on the homepage, will drive your developer insane and won't be conducive to a useful product.
posted by zachlipton at 1:22 PM on April 17, 2011

We just trialled Clickbook for a similar use and it worked really well. It can also be set to send reminder messages to cell phones. I don't know if it meets all your requirements, as I wasn't that involved in setting it up, but it is worth a look. It does have a cost (for anything other than a small user), but we thought the cost was worth the staff time it saved.
posted by AnnaRat at 2:58 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

The shared calendaring facility of google apps might suit. Free for academic institutions.
posted by PickeringPete at 4:10 PM on April 17, 2011

I wouldn't ask a CS dept. You'll get software that cannot be upgraded, fixed, or even reconfigured after those students graduate. I would instead hire a CS student or two to build the site and create documentation as part of their deliverable. Or just stick with doodle, google, etc.
posted by about_time at 4:44 PM on April 17, 2011

Best answer: For advising appointments, I've used both Jiffle and Tungle. I like Jiffle's interface better, but it randomly stopped working a couple months back so I switched over to Jiffle, which is fine except I can't figure out how to stop letting students schedule 15-minutes appointments. Both work with Google Calendar, so students can't book appointments that conflict with other things I have scheduled, plus you can specify available times on a recurring basis as well as single exceptions.

The Prof Hacker column on CHE has done a few overviews of scheduling tools, so there may be something mentioned there better suited to experiment scheduling.
posted by MsMacbeth at 5:51 PM on April 17, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you for your help, all of you! I will run these by my department.
posted by KDj82kao at 4:52 PM on April 18, 2011

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