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THE NEW MEDIA CENTER: Meeting Mania or Mayhem? Scheduling Software Can Help

By Mary Alice Anderson - Posted Jan 1, 2013
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Tired of endless email threads that accumulate if you try to schedule a get-together by email? Finding a common meeting time for just three colleagues can be more work than it should be. It gets worse if phone tag is part of the problem. Solve the problem by sending a Doodle!

Doodle is one of several easy-to-use scheduling tools that make scheduling easier for organizations needing volunteers and for the volunteers who want to help. Media specialists who rely on volunteers for a variety of tasks will find it worthwhile to spend a few minutes becoming acquainted with these tools. We’ll look at Doodle, VolunteerSpot, and SignUpGenius. The focus will be what you can do with the free versions of these web-based tools.

Doodle

Let’s schedule an event with the streamline Create, Invite, Confirm process.

1. Register for an account.

2. Select Schedule an Event. Enter general information: the name of the event, location, and any directions or notes.

3. Select a possible meeting date using either a basic month/day calendar or a detailed calendar view.

4. Enter the possible times that work for you. This can be for a group meeting or other event.

5. Choose settings from a choice of yes/no/if need be, confidential responses, the number of options a participant can choose, and how many participants can choose each option. The latter could be used for setting up multiple small-group meetings on a given day.

6. Send the invitation using your email account or have Doodle send the invitation along with a message from you. (With the Doodle Sends setting, only the people you have invited via Doodle can participate in your poll, and invitee responses are tracked.

Recipients only have to click the password/login free Doodle participant link to view a table of choices and then click the dates that work for them. They can also select “Can’t make it” or add an optional comment such as “I’ll bring the coffee.”

You, the Doodle administrator and originator of the invitation, can view results in a simple visual format and announce the meeting date. If six of nine people are available at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, that’s when you meet!

Doodle’s Make a Choice option makes filling volunteer time slots as easy as 1-2-3. Do you need a group of volunteers to assist students with a special technology project in the labs or to help at the book fair?

1. Log in to your free account.

2. Enter a list of times and tasks in the slots provided.

3. Establish settings as described in Schedule an Event.

4. Invite participants.

Schedule an Event and Make a Choice are interchangeable for many situations. Results can be printed, saved as a PDF, or exported to Excel, a good choice if there is a need to use the information later.

Calendar Connect is another free option in Doodle. Connect is integrated with many standard online calendars including Google, iCalc, and Outlook.

VolunteerSpot

VolunteerSpot is another scheduling option. The free version is more robust than Doodle, but getting started is a bit more complex. However, video tours and a sample sign-up activity make it easy. I selected a kindergarten volunteer sign-up and sent myself the demo invitation. I only had to select a clipboard representing the day I wanted to volunteer and choose a time slot. After a couple more clicks, I could add the date to a choice of calendars. A confirmation with options to change my commitments appeared in my mailbox instantly. VolunteerSpot is volunteer-friendly.

Here is how you can create a VolunteerSpot sign-up:

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This article is available in its entirety in a variety of formats — Preview (free), Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — on a pay-to-view basis, courtesy of ITI's InfoCentral. CLICK HERE.


 
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