Agriculture Communication

Accessibility


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Collaborative Calendars to Use with the Public & Other Agencies

Have you ever had to manage a calendar or signup sheet with someone outside of our organization? Last summer, one of the counties requested help in building an online calendar where volunteers could sign up for the Community Garden. More recently, another county office and local Farm Service Agency wanted a place where either of them could book appointments for the agent to provide Farm Bill education.

Inside our organization (those of us with a @ndsu.edu email) the Microsoft Outlook calendar works great to help manage your time. You can create calendars for scheduling too. In Ag Comm, we have a schedule to book the 5a Conference Room, videoconferencing and even break room clean up.  

Unfortunately, our Outlook calendars are internal-only and cannot be shared with the “outside” world. This can pose a problem for many of you who work with the public and other agencies to collaborate on projects.

A solution is Google docs, which have handy templates ready for you to customize. They are easy to share and collaborate on and use, no matter if you’re inside or outside our organization.

Create Your Calendar

Check out the sample calendar I made from the template. It is actually a spreadsheet, but functions as a calendar. I made up a fictional event “County Fair Booth Volunteer Shifts” for the week of June 14, 2015. I put three shifts on the calendar. The intent is to make this accessible by anyone, so they can review the available shifts and then add their name to a shift on the calendar.

calendar

 

Set Calendar Accessibility

So where can people find this calendar? There’s several ways to get the word out and you do that by hitting the Share button in the upper right of your screen, or on the File menu > Share.

Option 1: Share with others (via email). Just enter their email address and choose what level they can access (can edit, can comment or can view).  

Share with others 

 

Option 2: Get shareable link.

A link will be generated for you and you can set the access levels:

Link Sharing 

In the calendar example for the County Fair booth sign up, I would make the calendar public so that anyone could access it and “edit” or sign up.

Get the Word Out About the Sign Up

Now that we have our calendar that can be accessed and edited by anyone, we need to direct our audience to it. Use the copied link in the previous step to paste into an email or text. Or, you could choose to email them directly from the calendar by entering their email address (you can even add a note).

Calendar Update Notifications

Now that you’ve gotten the word out about the calendar, you’re hoping it fills up with people who want to take the shifts. You could go in and check on progress as often as you want, or you can have updates emailed to you directly by setting up a Notification. Choose Tools > Notification Rules.

You can choose what kind of notifications you want and how often you want the notifications.

Notification rules 

 

Give It a Try!

To put all of this together, go ahead and register yourself for a time slot on the calendar at http://bit.ly/1Hsd2yz. You don’t even have to hit “save” because Google Docs automatically does it for you. Although you won’t be able to get the notifications, I will see them.

If you ever need to collaborate on a calendar with the public or another agency, give Google Docs a try.

For more information or help with this, please contact me or Bob Bertsch.

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403.  

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