University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Using Google Calendar as the primary "events calendar" for a university...any pointers?

We're currently evaluating various options for event calendaring, and the result we keep arriving at is that we should look into using Google Calendar for such a purpose. It's available as part of our Google Apps for Higher Education package, and from what we've found so far, it appears like it is probably the most user-friendly both on the end-user side of things and on the back-end implementation/configuration side of things.

The question being...has anyone run into (or created) any "best practices" type documentation for how best to undertake such a project?

I did some rudimentary searching online, but didn't turn up anything all that meaningful. And, there are a few calendar threads in the forum here on UWebD that mention Google Calendar in one way or another, but they're mostly "in passing" comments rather than details about the hows/whys of implementation.

If anyone can provide me with more info about this sort of thing, that would be great.


Doug Thompson
Manager of Web and Electronic Communications
Ohio Wesleyan University

Views: 1086

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Doug,

We just started using google calendar last month when we relaunched our site. I don't have any best practices to share, but I can say it's been really easy for our small office to manage. I couldn't find a good open source calendar system that had any better features. While I didn't want to get into bed with google, this seemed like a good move for us. Since it's free and we didn't have to invest a lot of time at start-up, I don't feel like there is anything lost if some day there was an integrated solution that our campus wanted to use. It would be easy to move on from google with not much lost. Make sense?

Also, our department assistant keeps the calendar up to date and likes the interface much better than updating HTML pages.

Here's a link to our calendar page.

Bob Rafferty
Director of New Media
Wittenberg University
Hi Bob, do you know if there is a way to add a link for more information (i.e. news release, buy tickets, web page) under the event details?
Hi Khristine, From what I know, there is not a way to do that, but I've not tried. I know that there is not a wysiwyg editor in the program.
The most coveted tool in Google Calendar is a WYSIWYG editor. The event description section does take HTML so yes you can add links - you just have to manually code the < a href >.

NOTE: if you EDIT or COPY an event event from one calendar to another the HTML you added to the original does NOT copy. This means you should copy the HTML in a txt file & store it, then save the event. If you have to go back later to edit the event you will have to re-code the all the details so its better to have the HTML stashed somewhere.

Work around: Google added Event options to GMail, so you could create the event in GMail to use the GMail editor. However, the note above applies - you will lose editing if you go in to edit that event from Calendar.
I have been using Google Calendar since 2007 for my department calendars. I did the poster session at HEWEB08 on it (see showcase info here). I have drafted a few documents for users on my campus that I would be happy to share. Shoot me an email at and I will FWD them to you.

I use Google Calendar to manage events pouring in from 14 divisions within my dept - some divisions add/edit their own events (shared cal, with editor access) but most send in their info to me. Using separated calendars for each divisions makes it easy to manage all the info. Each Monday morning I turn on 'Agenda view' and pull a 'this week in Medicine' event list, choose the highlights, and shoot out a dept email blast with the must-attend lectures and seminars. It works. My dept chairs love it.

With the embed calendar feature, I use Google Calendar for dept website:,, and include 'feeds' from selected calendars into Blackboard courses.
Carrie's presentation is the reason I took a good look at Google Calendar for our campus and ended up with a successful implementation that spans 15 calendars over several departments with about 10 calendar managers splitting duties across multiple calendars. I use a lot of iCal feeds to pull automatically updating events lists into department sites and the homepage. If we ever migrate to an enterprise calendaring system I'll use those same iCal feeds to automatically import events.
Aw, shucks, Shelley! That's awesome!

I did 4th quarter student orientation today and showed them their course Google Cal. Their eyes just light up and the heads start nodding when I ask if they have Google accounts and inform them that they can sync the course cal to their regular calendar. Quite a shift from the 'oh, no! not Blackboard!' shock and horror when I first walk into the training room. : )
Hi Carrie - great to hear.

We have set up Google Calendar and are interested in the approach you took to promote use of it by students. Stick, carrot or just be patient and hope / expect that students will just find it so useful that they embrace it?

You mentioned orientation presentations - what other tactics and resources do you use? Thanks
I use the cal for my department - it's not the university's primary calendar, so bear that in mind. Students who use it do so because they have an interest in our events and/or are currently rotating through our program. Faculty and medical residents use it, too.

The university uses an old ColdFusion calendar for course schedules. Students can download their course calendar to .csv and import it into their calendar tool - or they can select individual events and receive individual invites (Outlook Meeting Requests). Not very good for 2010, but it was great in 1999!

I think that buy-in isn't really the right word; I think it sells itself. The real time updates is a beautiful thing - with the ColdFusion calendar they are supposed to check it every day to see if there has been a room change or something. With Google Cal they can set up alerts - an email or SMS message 10, 15 or 30 minutes before a lecture. If the calendar is up to date, the alert will be accurate. Their schedule comes to them, they don't have to go to it. As I said, I think it sells itself.

A downside is I have no way of knowing how many people are linked to my calendar. Adding event editors is one thing, but having a public calendar is another.

Oh, which is another point: the fact that it is a public calendar if shared at this level and embedded in a web page. Practice good FERPA adherence and do not publish any student specific info in the events, such as full names, birthdays, dorm room locations, etc.

Hope that helps.
We use Google Calendar for a college level site here:

It's fantastic because it outputs an RSS feed, which you can manipulate with simple php functions, or just embed as is. In our case, I output it as a unordered list and call it a day. If a department feels like they want the added functions of the views, I embed it.
Hold the phone! Charlie- how did you add the RSS feed to your web page? Do tell - in detail. That is awesome. I would love to do that. We use Ektron CMS and I don't have access to anything above the < body > tag so please tell me I can manage without adding script to to the < head > or the CSS.
See attached text file for the PHP. It just makes an unordered list.

I've seen AJAX solutions as well.

By manipulating what you call from the RSS feed by start time, max results, etc you now have everything in the correct order.

Using SimpleXMLElement it becomes really easy to pull variables out of an XML file, like an RSS feed.

Be sure to set the time zone — that's really important.

The other thing to consider is that if the script hangs (Google Calendar is unavailable for some reason) it's going to hold up the render of your page, so always use this near the bottom of your page, after the main content. I've rarely had that occur, but just a tip.

A real PHP rockstar could probably make a more interesting layout and hierarchy, but this has served us well, as simple as it is.



Latest Activity

Profile IconTracey Vellidis and Mikey Greenland joined University Web Developers
Jan 14
Sara Kisseberth posted a discussion

Archived magazine stories

Greetings,What are you all doing online with "old" magazine stories? Do you delete issues after so  many years? 5 years? 10? I'm torn between keeping all on for historical purposes or keeping just a few years online to simplify the site (ala Gerry McGovern.) Curious as to what you see best practices being.ThanksSara KisseberthBluffton Universitywww.bluffton.eduSee More
Jun 10, 2020
Erin Jorgensen posted a discussion

HighEdWeb 2020 Accessibility Summit

The HighEdWeb 2020 Accessibility Summit is a one-day, online conference about digital accessibility in higher education happening June 25, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT.Join in to learn best practices, share stories and connect with your higher ed peers on topics including social media accessibility, web development, user experience and more. Sessions are designed to boost knowledge at every level, from accessibility beginners to technical experts. Conference registration is $25, with…See More
May 29, 2020
Erin Jorgensen is now a member of University Web Developers
May 29, 2020
Christine Boehler posted a discussion

HighEdWeb 2020 Annual Conference - ONLINE

October 19-20, 2020     Join us ONLINE for HighEdWeb 2020, the conference created by and for higher education professionals across all departments and divisions. Together we explore and find solutions for the unique issues facing digital teams at colleges and universities. In 2020, the Conference will be held completely online, offering multiple tracks of streamed presentations, live…See More
May 3, 2020
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Throughout April, we're hosting webcasts exploring how colleges and universities across North America are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Register for the series today!"
Apr 13, 2020
Christelle Lachapelle is now a member of University Web Developers
Apr 6, 2020
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Download our latest white paper to learn how the demographics of today’s higher ed learners are shifting, and how schools can adapt to meet the needs of these new learners."
Mar 31, 2020
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Join our next webcast with Amrit Ahluwalia from The EvoLLLution to learn about the new "modern learner" in higher education."
Mar 30, 2020
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"As we ride out the latest developments and impact of the coronavirus, there's no better time than now to learn the three Bs of crisis planning."
Mar 16, 2020
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Is your college or university prepared to meet the challenges that come with disasters and emergencies like the coronavirus? Learn how your CMS can help."
Mar 12, 2020
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Can’t afford the time and money to launch a comprehensive guided pathways model? Register for our FREE webcast to learn tricks for simulating a digital guided pathways experience."
Feb 21, 2020
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"With college enrollment decreasing for the 8th year in a row, boosting your college or university marketing efforts is more important than ever. Here's how to get started."
Feb 20, 2020
Christine Boehler posted a discussion

HighEdWeb 2020 Annual Conference

October 18-21, 2020 in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA     Join us for HighEdWeb 2020, the conference created by and for higher education professionals across all departments and divisions. Together we explore and find solutions for the unique issues facing digital teams at colleges and universities. With 100+ diverse sessions, an outstanding keynote presentation, intensive workshops, and engaging networking events,…See More
Feb 19, 2020
Christine Boehler posted a discussion

HighEdWeb 2020 Call for Proposals is Open!

The 2020 Annual Conference of the Higher Education Web Professionals Association (HighEdWeb) will travel to Little Rock, Arkansas, this October 18-21 — and the call for proposals is now open! As a digital professional in higher education, we know you have great ideas and experiences to share. From developers, marketers and programmers to managers, designers, writers and all team members in-between, HighEdWeb provides valuable professional development for all who want to explore the unique…See More
Feb 14, 2020
Christine Boehler shared Sara Clark's discussion on Facebook
Feb 14, 2020
Christine Boehler is now a member of University Web Developers
Feb 14, 2020
Brian Bell joined Kevin Daum's group
Feb 14, 2020
Brian Bell joined Mark Greenfield's group
Feb 14, 2020
Kenneth George is now a member of University Web Developers
Feb 13, 2020

UWEBD has been in existence for more than 10 years and is the very best email discussion list on the Internet, in any industry, on any topic


© 2021   Created by Mark Greenfield.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service