Hosting "Virtual" Office Hours

Hosting virtual office hours requires a "venue" (Zoom, Teams, etc.), a posted schedule, and a way for your students (or "visitors") to confirm a specific date and time to meet that won't overlap with others. This article will review the methods by which you can offer office hours online.


This article is intended for faculty, staff, and students (e.g. student orgs, etc.)


Windows 10, MacOS 10.13 or higher; iOS, Android. Most solutions will function best on full OS (Windows; MacOS)




Zoom is a video conferencing service, to which all students, staff, and faculty have access. You can host a video conference meeting with up to 300 participants, who may be part of the IC community or outside contacts. The tool includes chat, screen sharing, a virtual whiteboard, breakout rooms, meeting recording, and more. In addition, it is integrated as a tool in Canvas for easy meetings with your class. Relevant features for office hours are a "waiting room" function to ensure privacy in 1:1 meetings, while still being cognizant of those awaiting to meet with you. It also has a registration tool, but is limited in that it does not allow for reserving specific time slots, and the Zoom tool in Canvas is limited in that it does not allow you to import or link one Meeting to multiple Courses.

Note: We strongly recommend using the "Waiting Room" feature to ensure privacy during meetings, or sending individual zoom meeting invites with a password.

Ithaca's Zoom portal -
Zoom's Support and Resources Site
Zoom Knowledge Base Category

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a desktop, mobile, and web-based communication and collaboration platform for Office 365 that brings everything together into a shared workspace where you can chat, meet, share files, and work with business applications. Teams offers group chat, online meeting and web conferencing, audio and video calling, collaboration with built-in Office 365 applications, and OneDrive access. In particular, it integrates with your Outlook calendar-- meeting invitations can have Teams calls built into them, and become a one-button click away for joining. You can invite your students or "visitors" to sign up for a time on your calendar that appears as free, and free/busy time will be shown when they schedule a meeting with you on your calendar.

Microsoft Teams Knowledge Base Category



Depending on the volume of individuals you anticipate meeting with, you may want to offer time slots that they can sign up for. If your preferred platform does not have a method for granular scheduling, or avoiding double-booking, consider the tools or methods below.

Canvas Calendar and Scheduler - Assignment Groups Feature

The Calendar is a great way to view everything you have to do for all your courses in one place. You can view calendar events by day, week, month, or agenda list. The calendar also includes access to the Scheduler, which is an optional scheduling tool in Canvas. You can create appointment groups in the Scheduler, in Calendar. Appointment groups create a block of time where students can meet with you, and can be made available to multiple Courses. Students can sign up for appointment times in their own calendars. Appointments display in your calendar after a student or group has reserved a time slot. Appointment details are also included when you export the calendar using the Calendar feed.

Note: If using this feature, we recommend posting the Office Hours Meeting invitation in an easy-to-access area for your Courses. If you are only posting hours for one course, and are using Zoom, you can put the meeting directly in the Zoom tool. If you need to make this Meeting accessible to more than one Course, then we recommend posting it in each Course -- for example, on the Home Page or an Announcement.

Canvas Basics - What is the Calendar?
Canvas Instructor Guide - How do I use the Calendar as an instructor?
Canvas Instructor Guide - How do I add a Scheduler appointment group in a course calendar?


Microsoft Bookings

Microsoft Bookings is an online scheduling tool that allows customers to book appointments with departments, organizations or an individual. Microsoft Bookings integrates with Outlook Calendar and Microsoft Teams for virtual meetings. As a member of the Ithaca College community (facutly, staff, student), you can request a license to Microsoft Bookings. You may also submit a Collaboration & Business Productivity Consultation request if you would like to discuss how to best use Bookings to meet your needs.


Outlook Calendar Meetings

As a member of the Ithaca College community (faculty, staff, student), you have access to Microsoft Outlook -- on the web, and downloadable to your device. You can schedule meetings with other individuals in the Ithaca College community, or send an invite pre-generated by your platform of choice using email. In both Outlook on the web and the downloaded version of Microsoft Outlook (MacOS and Windows 10), you can add a Zoom add-in or, if you have Microsoft Teams installed, a Teams meeting. This will automatically integrate with Zoom or Teams to "forward" the scheduled meeting information, and include any instructions or links for the participant to join in the description of your meeting. You can set reoccurrences for meetings, and use categories to organize and highlight these different calendar entries, as well.


Article ID: 818
Sat 3/21/20 5:02 PM
Fri 9/3/21 5:36 PM