You might recall that Doodle, which I’ve been using for years, was the first service I covered. But then I fell in love with Jiffle after a reader suggested I give it a try. As I explained in my post on that service, Jiffle has enough advantages over Doodle that I now use it instead.
Since then, however, I’ve learned about Tungle. Conclusion? It combines the features of Jiffle & Doodle and offers some features the others don’t, making it the best choice of the three for academics (though it’s not without drawbacks). In what follows I’ll explain why.
Because Tungle’s interface is pretty easy to understand, I’m not going to provide a step-by-step tutorial (with screenshots) as I’ve done before. Instead, the video embedded below will stand in for such instructions. As always, you should feel free to ask questions in the comments.
Cost: It’s free, but they report that premium features are planned. They promise that “[w]hat is free today will always be free.“
Synchronization & Compatibility: If you already manage your calendar digitally, Tungle synchronizes with a number of the most widely used tools: Outlook, Google Calendar, iCal, Entourage, and Lotus Notes. (Sorry, Jason, no 30 Boxes.) Students or colleagues can request a meeting with you using the Tungle interface, and once you accept the request your calendar is automatically updated. Note that iCal & Entourage syncing are described as “beta” features while Lotus Notes is in “closed beta.”
Your Tungle.me page: Once you’ve signed up for the service, you can personalize your own “Tungle.me” page, with some basic information about yourself, contact information, and links to your profiles on other social media sites. Whenever someone visits that profile, they’ll be able to see when you’re available and to request a meeting with you. And the simplicity of a profile web address that reads “http://Tungle.me/GHW” is much better than the one you’d get on Jiffle, where the address would be “http://www.jifflenow.com/grp/GHW.”
Contacts: One advantage over Doodle and Jiffle is that Tungle will import all of your contacts so that you can invite people to meetings or appointments from within the service’s interface. Just start typing a name and suggestions from your contacts will be made. Of course, if the idea of sharing all of your contacts with a third party does not appeal to you, then this feature will not seem like an advantage.
Social media integration: There are apps for social/professional networks Xing, Ning, and (perhaps most useful for an academic environment) Facebook.
Drawbacks: You cannot embed a Tungle interface on your own web site, as far as I can see. There are times when this kind of flexibility would be desirable. And, as with Jiffle, you cannot make yourself available for appointments less than 30 minutes long. When I’m conferencing with my writing students, I’d like them to be able to sign up for 15-minute slots.
An item for the wish list: If any of these services could be tweaked to work with a campus Writing Center schedule (where multiple tutors are available in many of the same time slots during the day), they would find an enormous audience of potential users on campuses across the country. Just sayin’…
Final thoughts: With an easy-to-use interface for scheduling appointments, Tungle should integrate smoothly with your digital calendaring tools, as with Doodle and Jiffle, take much of the back-and-forth hassle out of such scheduling. I plan to make use of it later this semester when it comes time for 1-on-1 conferencing with my current students about their work for my classes and for meeting with my advisees to discuss their schedules for Fall 2010.
If you’re already using Tungle, let us know what your experience has been like.