I have been using Google calendar to manage my student worker shifts the past few months. We were using paper with a grid like system (like a printed spreadsheet) and the students would pencil the hours in when they signed up for the shift or subbed for another person. It got messy, fast. It was hard to read, others would erase other people’s names from shift, and it has walked off on some occasions. I thought Google Calendar would be a great way to have the students sign up for shifts and sub for others, plus in my world, the less paper the better. Here are some of the advantages that occurred when we made the switch from paper to digital:

1. Always up to date. You know who’s coming in for that shift, even if the person needed a sub the last minute.

2. It is accurate for time collection. This is nice to have an easy to access way to see if the hours entered in the time collection match the shifts they worked.

3. It emails you an agenda in the morning (you know who to expect and what times they are coming in) and you can set up reminders to your mobile phone or email, so the student doesn’t miss a shift. The student has to set the reminders up but a few have and love it.

4. It’s always online. You can always view it and make changes from anywhere. My students use to have to walk over to sign up or change shifts. Not anymore. Everybody has access at the same time to sign up, so it’s also a fair way to do the new semester sign up process.

5. The students are in control. They sign up, and they change the shift if they need a sub. It fits in with their lifestyle and it gives them more responsiblity and power by having to manage the schedule/calendar this way.

6. Easy to read the shift times. No more eraser marks. And if you need to print it, you can.

7. It didn’t walk away. Since it’s online, there’s no potential for it to walk away.

Some bugs that needed to be worked out:

1. Some students never used Google Calendar, so it was hard for them to use it the first time. They also deleted the invitation emails and Google calendar only let me send out one per a person, per a calendar.

2. Some did not want to sign up for a new Google account to the email (school email) I sent the invite to to join the calendar. They wanted to use their Gmail account (I can’t blame them for that).

3. Signed up for the wrong calendar. They signed up for their personal Google calendar instead of the one I set up because it was the same color.

4. Wrong time zones. Some students have their settings in the calendar set to a different time zone.

We are continuing to use this method for signing up and managing substitution shifts for work. The students like it once they got the hang of it. we also embedded the calendar into a website that only they can access. The calendar is not public. If you do decide to go in this direction, I recommend some basic training before you switch over to the calendar. I hope this helps!

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