The Calendar

Although I've written about my use of Google Calendar before, I want to revisit this topic to clarify some things, help you use it better, and offer a cautionary tale.

I am still using Google Calendar a lot. It helps me keep track of where I need to be, where I am, and where I was. Yup, where I was. Like, when was the last time I saw my dentist (Dr Xing Wu, highly recommended, BTW) for a cleaning? I look it up in my calendar. Last oil change? Look it up. Last haircut? It's all in there.

But most of the time, I don't actually go to

Although the events in my personal calendar live somewhere in Google's cosy cloud data centres, the calendar itself can be accessed as a standard ICAL (.ics format) calendar. That means you can use whatever app you want to access your Google Calendar--or any other publicly accessible calendar.

For example, in addition to my personal and family calendars, also I subscribe to CanadaHolidays. To see my calendars on my phone, I use Calendars 5 by Readdle, which shows all of my personal and subscribed calendars. On my computers, though, I prefer to use Thunderbird with the Lightning Calendar add-on. Or, yes, sometimes I go to Google's calendar website. But I don't have to.

Subscribing to a calendar is not hard. You just need a link to the ICAL URL. Here, Google tells you how to Add someone else's Google calendar, if you're using Google calendar yourself. No? S'ok, there are also instructions on how to Sync calendar with a phone or tablet (Android or iOS). One of the greatest strengths of subscribing to another calendar is that you can get notifications of events via SMS texts or email.

For a few years, I've been creating a custom calendar for each class I teach. You can subscribe to it, and get notifications of exams and assignments. Useful! If you don't use a calendar app, or don't subscribe to the course calendar, well, you won't get notifications and will have to rely on your brain.

Here's the cautionary tale. This past term, despite information on my syllabus, in Bear Tracks, in eClass, in my course calendar, and even in an email reminder I sent out, a student missed the final exam, thinking it was the next day. Oops. Your Faculty is not going to approve a deferred exam for that reason, and you will end up getting a zero on the final--and maybe even failing the course.

Why not just figure out how to subscribe to calendars? If any of your courses don't have custom calendars, you can manually enter important dates and events, set up your own reminders, and never miss an assignment again--or a dental appointment.

(I've written a bit of Javascript that updates the calendar icon on some of my course pages. Now the icon will show what day of the month it is. Sorry, it doesn't show the month. Or the year. You're on your own there.)

Why aren't you studying?


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