Jan 11
Office Hours in the 21st Century

Q. When is an hour not an hour at all?

A. When it's an office hour! badhon-ebrahim-1169302-unsplash.jpg

As Instructors, we have a responsibility to be reasonably available to students outside of class. What does that look like in your teaching practice?

In my area, the course outline includes a spot where I can insert my specific office hours. I state that I am available “by appointment only", so that students know I'm accessible to them outside of class time, but they must book time with me in advance. In addition, I tell students they are welcome to email me with questions or concerns about class work or assignments.

In Janine's department, where multiple instructors teach many different sections of the same course each term, the course outlines include neither instructor name nor office hours. Instead, those details are posted on LEARN, and/or instructions about office hours are posted outside instructor offices.

How does it work in your area?

  • Do you hold regular office hours, during which your students can drop in for one-on-one time with you?
  • Do you offer office hours through booked appointments?
  • Do you offer virtual one-on-one time (via email or WebEx, for example) instead of offering face-to-face time in your office?
  • Do your students take you up on your offer, regardless of its format?
  • Or are office hours a thing of the past in your teaching world?


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Image source: Photo by Badhon Ebrahim on Unsplash


Two years ago I attended th...

Two years ago I attended the Disrupted conference (which was amazing btw) and had the pleasure of hearing the keynote discuss office hours in today's world of digital education. She stated that learners may or may not be physically on a campus so that may leave them scrambling to meet with instructors for the very reason they are not in the same place at the same time. The solution? To identify online office hours! I have started doing this on my course outlines. I identify when I will be online, for instance 8-9 am and 4-5 pm as online office hours and then by appointment at other times. This allows for learners to contact me via email and know that they'll get a response (I always respond to emails!). It has worked really well with my teaching schedule which is from 9 -4 most days.
Picture Placeholder: Ruth Lindsey-Armstrong
  • Ruth Lindsey-Armstrong
 on 1/11/2019 8:55 AM

Ruth: What an innovative ap...

Ruth: What an innovative approach to office hours! I communicate by email with students all the time and have a pretty good turnaround time from query to reply, but I have not thought about actually designating time during which they can definitely expect a reply in real time. Thanks!
Picture Placeholder: Amanda  Le Rougetel
  • Amanda Le Rougetel
 on 1/11/2019 10:56 AM

Good question! I like Ruth'...

Good question! I like Ruth's innovative approach too (virtual office hours).
Picture Placeholder: Andrew Warren
  • Andrew Warren
 on 1/14/2019 12:45 AM

I also have to thank Ruth f...

I also have to thank Ruth for the tip! 
I've been trying to navigate making myself available to students via email, while managing expectations that I cannot always respond within an hour in the middle of the night or weekend.  I'm looking forward to trying out your strategy Ruth!
Picture Placeholder: Lindsay Mulholland
  • Lindsay Mulholland
 on 1/14/2019 8:43 AM