Information Technology Launches New Calendar
By Karen Yeh '13
The College’s Information Technology department has designed a new calendar that will make keeping up to date with the numerous events around campus much easier.

The calendar was launched to students on March 2, though certain departments have had access to it already.

The new feature will allow users to add upcoming events to their calendars. In addition, the calendar will also give students the ability to subscribe to student groups, allowing the groups to communicating news about their events to interested students by updating their own calendars.

The observant Amherst student will have already noticed the new ‘My Calendar’ tab discreetly tucked between the ‘My Portal’ and ‘My Profile’ tabs in their ‘My Amherst’ page.

The first thing to note about ‘My Calendar’ is that it is a bit of a misnomer; users can create multiple calendars and control the privacy settings for each one individually.

It may take some time to understand the workings of the Calendar. Clicking on ‘My Calendar’ will bring a student to a calendar already filled with their academic schedule, which has been uploaded by the Registrar.

The calendar can be viewed in day, week, month and year orientations. Clicking the ‘Add Event’ link allows you to, as can be expected, add an event to your own calendar. Having clicked ‘Add Event,’ there is a yellow bar titled ‘Settings’ that you can go to in order to edit the settings for your calendar, such as who has the authority to edit or read it.

Once someone grants you permission to read their calendar, you can integrate those events into your calendar as well. For example, a club will need to authorize you to read their calendar before you can access it. Otherwise, trying to view the calendar brings you to a ‘Password Required’ page.

Authorizing students is very simple and not nearly as tedious as it may first seem — no one from the club will need to add every single club member one-by-one.

There is, in fact, an option that allows you to simply allow ‘everyone’ to read your calendar.

When an authorized reader clicks on the club calendar (via the club homepage), he will be able to see all the events the club has planned.

Users can add single events from the club calendar to their own calendar by holding their mouse over that event and clicking on the ‘Add to My Calendar’ option that shows.

Alternatively, there is a button that will add all of the club’s events into the user’s calendar.

The inspiration behind this new feature came mainly from faculty and clubs. Professors can make calendars and allow their students to schedule meetings during designated hours.

Here, the option of multiple calendars can be very useful since professors can make a different calendar for each class.

Professors have asked for ways to make scheduling meetings easier and the IT department has delivered: instead of emails (which can get lost or be opened too late), students will now be able to see whether or not time slots have been filled already.

Clubs have also been asking for a calendar feature in order to alert club members about meetings or events.

One of the shortcomings of the calendar is that it does not seem as though users are alerted when changes to their calendar, or their subscribed calendars, have been made, meaning users will need to periodically check club or sports calendars to make sure they are up to date.

The IT department is very interested in hearing feedback on this system and will be continually updating the feature to make it more useful to the College community.

Issue 17, Submitted 2010-03-03 05:03:14