Microsoft Bookings is an app in Office 365 that was designed for scheduling appointment for businesses and sales people, but it has some interesting applications for education in general and classrooms in particular. Day 119 of 365 Ideas for Microsoft is the Bookings app.
What is Bookings for, anyway?
The idea for this post started when a colleague sent me an email yesterday.
“A few months ago you demoed a way for teachers to book time with you (or us depending on the situation). Do you have some time tomorrow to walk me through how to set that up for myself? I need to meet with the content coordinators to talk about moving their stuff to (our new LMS) and (Director of Curriculum) thought letting them book time with me was the best way.”
Doesn’t sound like your job? How about scheduling parent-teacher conferences? What about scheduling reading conferences with you elementary school emerging readers? How about Office hours during remote learning?
Like all Office365/Microsoft365 apps, you will find Bookings by clicking on the app launcher, (or waffle) in the top left corner from OneDrive or any other Office 365 apps. It won’t appear in the prepopulated list, because that has the most popular apps like Word, PowerPoint, Teams and OneNote And the remainder is filled in using AI with the apps that you use most often. So you will need to click below that where it says all apps. This opens up an alphabetical list of all of the apps in Office 365 period since booking starts would be, it should be easy to find!
One of the first screens you will need to fill in asks the name and type of your business. Choose this name carefully. This is what people will see when they land on your bookings page. I chose the business name “Appointment with Matthew Nickerson”. That is what they are here for. It removes all confusion. They know they are in the right place.
Set your Availability
When Bookings opens , you will be on your home tab. On your home tab you can add your Outlook calendar. This is what makes bookings functional. Bookings looks at your Outlook calendar, and shows people blocks of time that you have available on the date they select. You are free to set up your work hours , by each day of the week. This puts the outer parameters of your hours in place each day. Monday through Friday, no earlier than 8:00 AM and no later than 4:00 PM, for example.
Within that range, Outlook tells Bookings what times to exclude from your availability, because you already have something on your calendar during those times. You can set these hours under the business information tab. You can also set hours under the staff tab. Notice that my business hours are very broad. From 7:00 AM until 7:30 PM. However, I set my staff hours to be much more limited. When you open my business page, and select me to make an appointment, you can only make an appointment within my personal availability.
Business hours versus personal availability
Notice there is an option to use your business hours here. Is there any reason mine are different? Honestly no, not really. I had the business hours set more broadly, because I used to think I could use more than one calendar here, and use this as a tool for checking out Chromebook carts and laptop carts etc. If you are thinking of using Bookings in this way, you will need an email address for each item you wish to have checked out. That wasn’t possible in my district, so we don’t use Bookings that way.
You can set your personal availability under the staff tab, which is also where you enter details like your name, email and phone number. Make sure the box “Events on Office calendar affect availability” is checked. This is what allows you to block off time.
Establish the “Services” you will offer
Next you need to determine what services you want to offer and set each of those up. This is where most of the set=up occurs. For me, “services” means a 30-minute appointment, 60-minute appointment, 90-minute, afterschool PD, and full day. Each is a separate service a teacher or administrator can select. A couple of things to keep in mind when creating a service- make sure to assign yourself to each service.
Also, if you are specifically setting this up for office hours, you’ll want to set the maximum number of attendees higher than one if you want multiple students to be able to join. If this is virtual, you may not need a buffer. But if you need to travel to a classroom or school, make sure to add a buffer for travel time. One note of caution though. When Bookings fills in your calendar with a new appointment, it will include the buffer, which is good. But it doesn’t differentiate between the buffer and the appointment. If you don’t remember this, you will be very early to an appointment, and you won’t have nearly as much time to work with as you thought!
For each service you also set up email responses and reminders, the minimum and lead time (how much minimum warning you get and how far out they can plan) and specify different hours for a special time period.
Your Bookings Page
Once you have established your services, you are ready to visit your Booking page.
Some of the settings you created on other pages can be modified here, and you can also set whether people making an appointment must be part of your organization or not.
When you are ready, you can publish your Bookings site!
Click on the Open published page button to see how it works for your “clients”.
Copy the link to share with students or staff.
Here’s what mine looks like, with a service (length of time) and a date selected.
Looking for more? How about the
Sign up to learn how to go from a complete novice in Teams to using Teams for your complete solution for remote learning.
If you like this style of directions and screenshots, walking you through ideas for using Microsoft tools in your classroom, check out my new (2nd Edition) book,
All the Microsoft Tools You Need to Transform Your Classroom: 75 Ideas for using Microsoft Office 365 for Education available on amazon in both Kindle and paperback.