One tool, many solutions: the fine art of using scheduling software at CIA
Having online scheduling as an option in the toolbox gives the Cleveland Institute of Art the right solution for a wide range of challenges.
5 min read
“YouCanBook.me is a really flexible tool in our toolbox that has been very helpful with a wide array of needs.”
How they use it:
The internationally recognized college of art & design sees YouCanBook.me as an important component of their toolkit to help create seamless student services across a variety of departments.
Multiple booking pages
Cancel & rescheduling options
Booking form questions
Matt Minnich Associate Director of Online Services
The Cleveland Institute of Art is one of America’s leading accredited independent colleges of art and design.
CIA’s 600 students can take advantage of 13 majors, from Animation to Sculpture + Expanded Media, Printmaking, and Photography. And just as each student’s path is unique to their talents and vision, so are the needs of the faculty and staff at CIA.
Matthew Minnich is Associate Director of Online Services. His job is to help faculty and staff use technology to solve issues and better serve students.
He doesn’t impose one-size-fits-all solutions on his colleagues.
Instead he works with them to understand exactly what they are trying to accomplish and find the right tool for that job.
“My motto is ‘empower and support,’” says Matthew. “I try to provide the best solution for the job and then work with each person to ensure it does what they need it to.”
Over the years, he has been able to recommend scheduling software YouCanBookMe for a wide variety of situations, and has had particular success using it to organize resources.
“I originally found YouCanBookMe back in 2015 to solve a very specific need. Back then, we had a process where at the end of their first year, students needed to apply for a major. Part of that was in-person interviews with their portfolio, and they needed to interview with three different departments.
“Up until that point we were posting the time slots on a piece of paper on a door of the room so people could add their name.
“But if there were no slots left, sometimes a student would just put their own time and their name next to it. Or, even worse, they would scratch out someone else’s name and put their name in. So there was no integrity to those interview slots.
“We had 15 departments trying to meet 150 students and everybody had different availability. So I was looking for a solution that was going to meet our needs at a manageable cost. YouCanBook.me solved that problem easily.”
“I didn’t have to give the interviewers full access to the account. I just needed to explain about keeping the correct availability phrase in the calendar event - and they could easily control their own schedules.”
YouCanBookMe was just one element of the wider solution to the student interview process, but its effectiveness meant staff were able to see other ways that it could be used.
“The interview process was being managed by our team of four academic advisors. The natural next step was for them to have appointment scheduling, so we moved to using YouCanBookMe for our advisors.”
Students are able to be very specific about the help they need - choosing as many of the options as they want - which lets advisors know ahead of time exactly what they will be discussing, how long they will be with the student, and what resources they should prepare in advance.
The page also uses the Teams feature so students can select the advisor they need to see. Or they can select ‘no preference’ to find the first available person.
The college’s Fabrication Studios were next to identify a need for school scheduling software.
Photo credit: Cleveland Institute of Art
The half dozen different fabrication studios offer space and equipment for students to work on their projects and get advice.
They’re open to individual students whenever they need it. But sometimes an instructor wants to bring an entire class to the studios for a larger session.
The studio administrators wanted advance warning of these large groups, but they also needed to understand what the instructor was looking for in the session.
They realized that YouCanBookMe’s customizable booking forms could be a solution. It would allow them to ask relevant questions at the time of the booking, so they could have that information ahead of time.
“They might need to schedule for a set amount of time,” Matthew explained. “Or maybe they’re working on a project and need some fab studio staff to assist with it. Or sometimes they just need the space, but they don’t need any assistance.
“So the staff were able to collect that information in advance.”
Matthew quickly saw the connection between person-to-person scheduling and scheduling certain resources, and why YouCanBookMe works so well for both.
“I think it's the flexibility that lets us treat a resource as more than just a location. We have another system that we use for scheduling event spaces. But it’s a different dynamic when you’re dealing with a space that has a set purpose that is the reason you’re going there.
“Just like I go to an advisor for certain reasons, I go to the fabrication studio for certain reasons. Being able to be clear about that ahead of time is really helpful.”
A pandemic-related pivot to scheduling group sessions
The COVID pandemic raised other reasons to consider YouCanBookMe.
“We had a pop-up exhibition in our gallery to display the work of some elementary school students. We wanted families to be able to come, but because we were still dealing with COVID, we needed to limit how many people came at certain times so we could control the flow.”
Matthew knew that YouCanBookMe’s group sessions feature would work well here since they could set a limit on the number of people who could attend in each time slot. But he was surprised to see how flexible that feature was.
“When I’ve used the feature in the past, it was to let people sign up at the same time as somebody else. I always removed the booking form question that allows people to say how many spaces they needed because I didn't want them to choose more than one.
“But with this pop-up exhibition, I finally understood the power of that. A family could say they want to bring two people or four people. It allowed for easy management of those controlled numbers.”
When COVID lockdown started, CIA students were on Spring Break. Many of them had projects and other personal items they needed to pick up before heading back home.
“We didn’t know when we’d be going back to classes so students needed to get their stuff. Our Student Life + Housing director was able to pivot really quickly to using YouCanBookMe to stagger the arrival times.
“The students picked a time that they would come to the building. They told us which floor they were on and any other areas they needed access to. The reminder emails, and the ability for students to cancel or reschedule themselves, were really strong elements of that.
“Another very helpful thing was being able to include someone else’s email address for notifications. So whoever is picking up or dropping off got the information too.”
Other CIA departments find uses for YouCanBookMe throughout the term.
“Student Life has used it for scheduling fun activities. For example, they might have a masseuse come in during exams, or plan an escape room activity students can sign up for.
“Financial Aid has scheduled in-person and virtual appointments with YouCanBook.me, using the Teams feature to list all the members a student can meet with. “The Admissions team has used it for campus tours. The Writing Center has used it for virtual appointments. It’s just a very flexible tool.”
Matthew tries to emphasize to any staff using YouCanBookMe the benefit of having customized messages.
“Some people underestimate all the communication that happens in-person. When you hand the student a form, you know they’ve received it. When they turn it in, they know you’ve got it back. You might mention when you see them that they’ll hear back next week, or that they need to remember to bring their portfolio. You have to be careful not to lose those interactions.
“But online scheduling can do all those things as well - as long as you set up a good flow of emails with the information the students need. That can give the same confidence, for both sides, that an in-person interaction would.”
One tool fits many
Over the course of 7 years, the Cleveland Institute of Art has changed existing processes, developed new ones, and endured the disruption of a global pandemic.
Through it all, Matthew found that YouCanBookMe has the flexibility and customization needed for staff to adapt it to their individual requirements time and again.
“YouCanBookMe is a really flexible tool in our toolbox that has been very helpful with a wide array of needs.”
What CIA did
YCBM features used
Organized interview availability for 15 different departments
Multiple booking pages
Offered a variety of services for students to meet about
Scheduled large groups & prepared staff ahead of time
Booking form questions
Socially distanced group sessions
Controlled the number of people visiting an exhibit at one time
Student Housing visits
Managed how and where students entered residence halls
Flexible cancel / reschedule options
Scheduled in-person and virtual appointments
Flexible cancel / reschedule options
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Kate was an early YouCanBookMe employee and loved supporting our Customers for almost a decade. She's now focused on spreading the word about online scheduling, how to improve productivity, and the Oxford comma.
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