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 Sakai for easy meetings with your class or project members. 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. Note: We strongly recommend using the "Waiting Room" feature to ensure privacy during meetings, or sending individual zoom meeting invites with a password (see information on scheduling below).

Due to limitations with the Zoom tool in Sakai tying course information to the Meeting ID, we recommend manually copying and pasting the meeting invitation to somewhere visible -- for example, the Overview page of your Sakai site, or a link to an announcement post that contains the meeting invitation details.

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.

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.

Sakai - Sign Up Tool

If you are using a Sakai site, the Sign Up tool is a straightforward way to set up time slots for office hours. Various scheduling, participation, recurrence, and notification arrangements can be made. An instructor can assign participants to timeslots, or allow them to select their own choices with a convenient "sign up" button corresponding to entries on the created list of time slots.  If a timeslot is full, the instructor can allow participants to add themselves to a wait list, which automatically "promotes" a participant when a slot becomes available and sends an email notification. 
If you choose to have multiple slots during the designated meeting time, it will make each slot 15 minutes. The number of slots and amount of time for each can be adjusted.



Article ID: 818
Sat 3/21/20 5:02 PM
Fri 10/30/20 2:47 PM