Utilizing Appointment Slots in Google Calendar

During the first of four days of Google sessions at Google Days in Minot, ND this week, the Gmail team announced a new feature in Google Calendar. This new feature would allow people to view available time slots that you have set up on your calendar. They are able to select that time slot and it will be both reserved on their calendar for you and will conveniently appear on your own Google Calendar as well.

For step-by-step directions, visit http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/introducing-appointment-slots-in-google.html.

Source: http://http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/

It was finally on Thursday, during the 3-hour working session at the end of the day that I finally got a chance to sit down with some of the attendees and work with this new feature.  Using Appointment Slots was relatively easy. The directions at http://www.google.com/support/calendar/bin/answer.py?answer=190998 took us through the steps to develop the schedules for each of the labs.

We used Appointment Slots at #gdminot to set up Calendars for teachers to sign up for the different computer labs in the building. So, we actually needed to make a unique calendar for each of the labs, yet we wanted to have all the calendars showing together when we embedded it on the Google Site. The issue that we ran into was that Google Sites  wouldn’t allow us to embed multiple calendars.

How to embed multiple Google Calendars:

  1. Click to the right of your calendar, click the drop down menu and click calendar settings
  2. Click the link for Customize the color, size and other options
  3. scroll down to the bottom of the page and on the left select all the calendars you want to include
  4. Scroll back up and click the update HTML button
  5. Cope the code to your clipboard
  6. Open your Google Site and go to the page you want to embed the calendar on.
  7. Click edit
  8. Click the Insert menu and scroll down to More Gadgets
  9. Click on the Featured gadgets and select the “Embed Gadget”
  10. Click the “select” button
  11. Paste the HTML code in the blank box
  12. Change your width to 800
  13. Change the height to 600
  14. Click the checkbox that will include the scrollbar
  15. Click OK
  16. Save your page to view changes.
I know this seems like a few too many steps, but it was worth it to see all the calendars in one place. Give it a try!
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2010 in Review

If you blog at WordPress.com as I do, you received a helpful e-mail informing you of some of the stats for your blog from 2010. I found some of this intriguing as I begin planning some topics for 2011. I typically post on timely information and items that are of interest to me, so it surprises me which were the top visited posts and what searches bring people to ThumannResources.

Image Source http://www.risesmart.com

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were

  • twitter.com
  • Google Reader
  • edcommunity.apple.com
  • cmsce.rutgers.edu
  • delicious.com

Some visitors came searching, mostly for

  • itouch
  • children’s internet protection act 2009
  • njecc
  • lisa thumann
  • you get what you get and you don’t get upset

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Who Owns Your Data? September 2010
12 comments

2

10 Steps to a Gmail Makeover March 2010
30 comments

3

iTouch the Future…I Teach – Music May 2008
13 comments

4

What My Droid Does – Part 3 February 2010
4 comments

5

Web 2.0 Smackdown at TechForum October 2010
10 comments

I have not yet decided if I will continue posting about the Droid and I haven’t blogged about the iPod Touch in about 2 years, but the other popular posts were information that I was interested in and therefor wanted to share. My prediction is that I will mainly post about:

  • 1:1 laptop initiatives
  • Steps towards systemic change in schools
  • Google Apps Education Edition and how it improves teaching and learning

Thanks for reading, subscribing and commenting in 2010. I hope to see your voice here in 2011.

10 Steps to a Gmail Makeover

It all started a couple of weeks ago at the Google Teacher Academy for Administrators. Hank Thiele and Cory Pavicich did a fifteen minute segment on how to effectively use your Gmail. I have to admit, that even though I’m a major Google Apps user, I was still pretty much relying on Microsoft Outlook to keep myself organized. I must have been crazy.

When Hank and Cory started speaking I had over 14,000 e-mails in my inbox. I am happy to report that as of today, just about 14 days later, I am at inbox zero. Here’s what I did:

1. Archiving
I was not archiving my e-mails at all. When you archive an e-mail it moves out of your inbox, yet it will still come up in your search results. All you have to do is click the Archive button when you are in an e-mail or select a group of e-mails and click More Actions – Archive.

2. Delete
Once I started searching through my e-mails, I realized how much junk was in there. I deleted all the Mailer-Daemons and the solicited coupons /ads / catalogs that had expired.

3. Labels
I created three Labels (or folders) for my mail. The easy ones to quickly lower the number in my inbox were Labels for Twitter, Facebook and my administrator. I started with Twitter and did a search for anything from Twitter and then created a label named “Twitter” and moved it all there. I then did the same thing for Facebook and for my boss.

So, I am proud to say that about 30 minutes after Hank and Cory were done with their presentation, I had reduced my inbox from over 14,000 to about 8,000 just with the first 3 steps.

Over the next week or so I took the following actions to further reduce and organize my inbox:

Filter by e-mail address, subject, keywords, etc.

4. Filters
I created filters for mail coming in and applied them to existing messages. I took a look at the mail each day to see what I was receiving and created Labels and then filters based on what was appearing in my inbox. This took a few days as different e-mails come on different days of the week and it’s easier to organize your inbox a little at a time.

5. Mark as read
I went into each of the Labels that I had created and selected all the mail in the Label. I then “marked as read” and Archived all the messages in each of the Labels to ensure that none would remain linked to my inbox.

6. Colors
Since I accumulated numerous Labels, I began color coding them based on my personal system. But the colors are definitely helpful and if you use the filters, much of your mail will appear in your inbox with the colored Label attached to it. This helps me make a decision quickly as to whether or not it needs my immediate attention.

7. Delete some more
It did get to a point that I was not sure which Label to move some e-mails into and I did not want to make a “Miscellaneous” Label, so I needed to either select where to put things or make a decision as to if it was okay for me to permanently delete them. It was tough at first, but did I really need registration confirmations from January 2008?

8. Starred messages
Since I was used to using the feature in MS Outlook that allowed me to flag e-mails for follow-up, I needed to find a replacement in Gmail. The Starred messages feature in Gmail would accomplish exactly what I needed with a couple  of additional features. I took a look at what I had marked in Outlook that still needed attention and Starred it in Gmail. I then click on the “Starred” button and was able to view all of my Starred messages regardless of their Label.

9. Check out a few more things
Subscribe to the Office Gmail Blog to keep on top of new features as they are released as there is an entire Gmail Labs section that is worth taking a look at. While logged in, click on Settings and then on the Labs tab. Here you will see all the Gadgets that have been developed for Gmail. By default, they are set to “disable”, but you can choose those that you would like to enable and then click “save changes”. One that I chose to enable was the “Green Robot“. It changed the icons in the Google Chat window to indicate whether someone was chatting from an Android phone (which I frequently do).

10. Be Decisive
Hank gave a very wise piece of advice. He suggested that when you get a new piece of e-mail, make a decision about what to do with it. Give it a Label. Read it. Delete it. Archive it. But, don’t just leave it there. It took me 14 days to whittle down from 14,000 e-mails to zero. I feel like I’m going to be more responsive to people now as they are not going to get lost in the shuffle. Well, I hope so anyway.

Do you have any Gmail tips to share? I would love to hear them. Please share them here.

Is it information overload?

It’s been a week since Educon2.2. Countless blog posts have been written and the stream of Tweets with the #educon hashtag is still, well, streaming.

So, a week later, this constant stream of information brings me back to the conversation that Liz Davis and I facilitated. I think the quote from Sarah Houghton-Jan that we shared before we began our protocol last Sunday really resonates with me now as we are generating all this content about Educon, and I am curious as to what everyone is doing will all the information.

“We have become far more proficient in generating

information than we are in managing it.”

When people ask you where you find the time to do all that you do and read all that you read about education, do you stop and ask them what they are doing with their time? Do you ask them how many countless hours they spend watching commercials or TV in general? Do you ask them what they listen to while they are exercising or commuting? What do people do with their time?

What options do we have to help us organize and filter the

information that comes to us.

During the conversation that took place at SLA on Sunday, January 31, folks in our session talked about what tools they used to
collect, aggregate and disseminate information. Here are some of the tools our group used:

  • Delicious
  • Diigo
  • Google Reader
  • Gmail
  • RSS

Actually, I took some flack from Mike Wacker and Sean Nash about using a Wordle to give a visual of what the group was collectively using, but oh well. We used Google Forms to do some group questioning and then could have used the Spreadsheet Gadget to do an embedded Word Cloud in the Spreadsheet, but Wordle has so many more options.

  1. Is there something you are doing with your time that you could eliminate or reduce to pursue something you are interested in professionally? Is that so bad?
  2. Do you realize you are not alone?
  3. Talk with people about what they do to manage their information. We would have never heard about how Ben Wilkoff uses Gmail to manage his informaton without the conversation at Educon. Now we just need him to make the screencast or write the blogpost we urged him to create.
Source: Liz Davis's Flickr Stream

We all didn’t have the solution to managing our information, but we took comfort in knowing that we weren’t alone and in being able to talk openly about different ways to manage all the information.
Is there something special that you do?

Is there someone that helps you manage your information?

Is there something that you heard in our session that you have tried and found to be successful?

Please share.