That time of year is coming up quickly – student conferences. One the biggest challenges I face is dealing with sign up for conferences. In the past, I have had a paper signup that I have brought to the classroom. Often, students are not sure of the time to sign up and put it off. And then I have also had students who see a student signed up for a time and still sign up for the same exact time. I decided to use technology to my advantage and signed up for Doodle.
I have used Doodle in the past with colleagues across the country to find a time to set up a conference call. Doodle is a good tool for that because it has the mechanism to deal with different time zones . It is also useful for student conferences.
Once you have signed up for a free account at Doodle.com, you choose to create a poll and pick the option Make a Choice.
In the next screen, you give a title to the option. Make it specific. In my case, I put “Spring Student Conferences with Mrs. DeFeo.” You also give the location for the conference – the office where students should find you. Then you give the description for the conference. Again, in my case, I put “Please schedule a time with me to have an Instructor/Student conference in which we will discuss your rough draft of final research paper. Please note the day & time that you sign up for.”
After you have set that up, go to the next screen. It defaults to 10 options, but you can add many more. For each option, I put the day and each block of time I have to meet with students. This takes a little time in the set up, but it is not much different than going into Word and creating a table of meeting times for a signup sheet. When you have put all the days and times, you go to the next screen.
The next screen is the key to having the signup run successfully. You want to make some adjustments to the settings. First, you should choose that participants can select only one option. During conference weeks when you have to meet with so many students, keep it simple. Second, you also want to limit the number of participants per option. There you want to choose one since you only want to meet with one student at a time.
In the final option you may choose to type in everyone’s email address, or better yet, you may choose right above it the option You Send the Invitation. When you choose the option and select Finish, you are taken to a screen where you are given a participation link. Copy and paste that link into whatever classroom management system you use. In my case, I use Blackboard, and I put that link in announcements, and I send it out as a class email.
This method has really worked well for me. In fact, I create one poll and use it for all my classes since they all have to meet me during the same two-week period. I just make sure that I have enough times slots for all my students and some extra. I remind my students to sign up early because it is first come, first serve.
If you try Doodle Poll for your conferences, let me know how well it worked for you.