The Google Calendar

I took an informal poll of one of my classes this term, asking about students' use of Google Calendar. I was shocked (shocked!) to find that only a small minority of students used it. (Although a few did promise to start trying it out.)

For every class I teach, I've been creating a separate Google Calendar containing important dates and deadlines. For example, I include the due dates for assignments. There are also reminders that will be emailed to you a day before each exam, as well.

I have a hard time keeping track of all the stuff going on in my life--and that of my family. Who has dance class today? Where is the soccer game? When is my dentist's appointment? There's no way to remember these in my head. (Some of my colleagues can really harness the power of their mind, memorizing the first 100 digits of pi, which is great. Me, I don't trust myself to be so organized.)
My wife has used a paper calendar in our kitchen, but that system is flawed. I can't book an appointment for myself if I'm not standing in the kitchen looking at the calendar. I don't know when the dance recital starts unless I'm standing in the kitchen looking at the calendar. It's very awkward. The solution: Google Calendar.

OK, it doesn't have to be Google--any online calendar that synchronizes to your devices will work. I've been using GCal since it came out in 2006, and it works well. You can get to it via the web, but it also syncs nicely with my Android phone and iOS devices.

You can "subscribe" to a whole bunch of different calendars, too. In addition to your personal calendar, you can subscribe to Canadian Holidays, UAlberta's academic schedule, or even the Department of Psychology's events calendar.

Here's a sad story. Despite my Google Calendar--and Bear Tracks, too--giving the time, date, and location of the final exam, one student last term forgot/missed the final, and ended up with a terrible mark. Don't let that happen to you!

Google has killed off other products that don't make it any money, and I can't see the revenue stream for Google Calendar. But the good news is that GCal is part of Apps@UAlberta, so it will likely survive future purges.

Why aren't you studying?


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