29 July 2009

Tech Tip: Meeting Schedulers

Maybe the niftiest, most undervalued tool to emerge from Web 2.0 is the meeting scheduler.

Set aside any auto-pilot assumption that everyone uses Outlook to the extent that makes meeting notices easy. And, of course, keep in mind that the basic email approach only looks like two-way communication. There's still a hierarchy at work. There's a sender and there's a responder and a lot of the time, the sender is notifying, not inviting. When email is used more democratically to invite input about meeting times, it... well, it takes about 20 emails to establish anything.

Contrast the egalitarian meeting scheduler. We're all equal in our access and we all have access to the results. If all of us are willing to select multiple checkmarks, we'll gather the information about everyone who's slated for a meeting and produce a "best time" for the majority.

If you will recall the early days of surveymonkey, you'll probably recall your own or someone else's use of that software as a meeting scheduler. The power of sending a survey with meeting time options extended to sharing the view of results to all the participants. Feedback! Egalitarian!

We moved past the surveymonkey era with a lot of new scheduling tools. Some of them were specific—for activities like choosing a lunch spot with your friends. (Really, it was for that single purpose. And Google bought the smallish web site.)

And this month I experienced the best two online tools for meetings that I have run across. The tall graphic is the results page for a meeting for 8 people (names removed). Source: MeetingWizard.

The smaller graphic below is a segment of the results page for a meeting of 4 people. Source: doodle. Doodle calls their offering a poll.

© 2009 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

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