Missionary Dinner Calendar

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jds580s
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Missionary Dinner Calendar

Postby jds580s » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:04 pm

Hello all. I would like to ask for some community feedback on a tool I built to help coordinate missionary dinner appointments.

http://demo.missionarydinnercalendar.com

I love the features available with the official church calendar on LDS.org, but the problem I had was that members in general can not sign up for appointments without going through a calendar administrator. I wanted to setup a simple site that could work as a stand-alone replacement to the common paper calendars that get passed in many wards, or in conjunction with a traditional paper calendar for members who are not technology inclined.

Here is how our ward plans to use it:
There are 2 account types for a unit. A general ward membership account which is protected by a shared password. The password is freely shared among ward members, investigators or anyone else interested in feeding the missionaries. The password also appears at the top of the printed calendar and in emails sent regarding missionary meals.
This password lets you see what days are available and sign up for an appointment but does not let you see who has signed up for other to protect those who may not want their name appearing online.

The second account is for administrators and is intended to be shared with Ward Mission Leaders, Asst Ward Mission Leaders, Missionary Meal Coordinators, Bishoprics etc.. and allows those individuals to:
Retrieve appointments for the month
Change or remove names from the calendar
Print or save a PDF of the calendar for circulation at church.
Change the member password
Change the administrator password
Name the companionships serving in the unit (helpful for units with more than one set of missionaries)

Though the calendar is publicly available on the web, I have tried to follow the church policies regarding projects like this. No membership or other data from the church is used.

I have built and tested this to be friendly for phone, tablet and desktop use. Though I have not tested it on an android tablet yet.

The plan is to roll this first out to my ward, and work out any issues that might come up, then make it more widely available if there is interest.

There is one known issue that I have decided to live with because I can't see a great solution. I would welcome any input on it. If you pass the printed paper calendar at church and also have people signing up from their devices while at church there is the potential for collisions when the paper calendar is collected but someone already signed up for a particular day since the time the calendar was printed. There really isn't any way I can see around this without suspending online appointments during church hours but that seems counter productive. My hope is gradually to wean people off the paper calendar, or have them contact the WML/Meal Coordinator directly to make appointments.

Thanks!
Attachments
Public-small.png
Screenshot of the public calendar
Public-small.png (48.23 KiB) Viewed 4731 times
Admin-small.png
Screenshot of the administrator interface
(152.74 KiB) Downloaded 1427 times
Print-small.png
PDF printer friendly version of the calendar
Print-small.png (47.6 KiB) Viewed 4731 times
Try these free tools:
MissionaryDinnerCalendar.com - Online calendar for members to sign up and feed the missionaries in your ward.
CallingManager.com - Tool to visualize and manage callings in a ward

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sbradshaw
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Re: Missionary Dinner Calendar

Postby sbradshaw » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:48 pm

First of all, nice work!

jds580s wrote:There is one known issue that I have decided to live with because I can't see a great solution. I would welcome any input on it. If you pass the printed paper calendar at church and also have people signing up from their devices while at church there is the potential for collisions when the paper calendar is collected but someone already signed up for a particular day since the time the calendar was printed. There really isn't any way I can see around this without suspending online appointments during church hours but that seems counter productive. My hope is gradually to wean people off the paper calendar, or have them contact the WML/Meal Coordinator directly to make appointments.


Maybe you could pass around an iPad instead of paper; and have a simplified interface for that iPad that's passed around (names showing, no password) to make it easy to use so the class isn't interrupted with questions about it...

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sbradshaw
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Re: Missionary Dinner Calendar

Postby sbradshaw » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:03 pm

The colored triangles and key are confusing to me and I had to click on a few dates to figure out what they meant. Also, the weekends being darker colors makes me think that they are "disabled" or something. How about three links that appear?:

English Sisters...
ASL Elders...

Both companionships...

If one companionship is already claimed:

English Sisters ✓
ASL Elders...

If you have admin rights:

English Sisters ✓ (John Smith, 555-555-5555 edit)
ASL Elders...

I would recommend putting the dinner policies somewhere from the handbook/mission, such as requiring someone else of the same gender to be present, dinner appointments to be an hour, or whatever requirements the mission has. Also, is there a way to view and/or change a dinner you've signed up to provide, after it's scheduled?

russellhltn
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Re: Missionary Dinner Calendar

Postby russellhltn » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:06 pm

Quick usability question - how likely are members to sign up for dates at home? What is going to be their "trigger" to do that? I'd hate for someone to go it all the development work and then find out it doesn't get used.

A clipboard/iPad passed around in PH/RS meeting is a "trigger". Speaking for myself, outside of church it would probably take a email to "trigger" me. If an organized family has "council meetings" that could trigger things. It might be worth doing an informal poll of the members to see how they see themselves using it.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

jds580s
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Re: Missionary Dinner Calendar

Postby jds580s » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:42 pm

Thank you for the feedback!

sbradshaw wrote:Maybe you could pass around an iPad instead of paper; and have a simplified interface for that iPad that's passed around (names showing, no password) to make it easy to use so the class isn't interrupted with questions about it...

I like that idea of having an electronic version that could be passed that wouldn't require a password and would show names. That would make things much more user friendly.

I decided to change the password from required to optional but recommended. We gave this a test run and that seemed be a point of confusion.

sbradshaw wrote:The colored triangles and key are confusing to me

I agree. I first tried a similar layout on our printed calendar a year or so ago. It was visually too much. I thought it would work better here using color to provide context but perhaps it should be rethought. The link idea is intriguing. My only hesitation is that all that text appearing in each block may make days appear full at first glance. If you only have one set of missionaries it automatically does away with the triangles and goes to just one color with solid or blank squares.
I setup the colors to be customizable but decided it cluttered in the admin interface unnecessarily. By adding that back in it would be easy to turn off the darker weekend days, but perhaps that would be better site wide.

sbradshaw wrote:I would recommend putting the dinner policies somewhere from the handbook/mission, such as requiring someone else of the same gender to be present, dinner appointments to be an hour, or whatever requirements the mission has.

I love the idea of adding the policies! I know our mission has some additional mission specific policies. Perhaps those could be amended at the end of the general policies by the WML.

sbradshaw wrote:Also, is there a way to view and/or change a dinner you've signed up to provide, after it's scheduled?

No not directly, but I was unsure about my decision to handle it that way. The risk is that if a week fills out and the appointments are provided to the missionaries on Sunday, then a member cancels their appointment allowing someone else to sign up, the missionaries have no way of knowing the change was made. Unless the WML or meal coordinator checks daily to see if the names still match those they provided on Sunday there is a chance for a mix-up or confusion. It also seemed to imply that the appointments were less of a commitment. As it is now, if you need to make a change that is fine, but it requires a call/email to the WML or whoever administers the calendar. Friction-less to make appointments, and just a slight discouragement from cancellation was the goal.

russellhltn wrote:Quick usability question - how likely are members to sign up for dates at home? What is going to be their "trigger" to do that? I'd hate for someone to go it all the development work and then find out it doesn't get used.

A clipboard/iPad passed around in PH/RS meeting is a "trigger". Speaking for myself, outside of church it would probably take a email to "trigger" me. If an organized family has "council meetings" that could trigger things. It might be worth doing an informal poll of the members to see how they see themselves using it.

Good question. The way we are using it is by:
1. Reminding people during meetings that they can sign up online.
May do this on the spot as I can see the dates fill out by the end of our block.
2. Then during the week if there are still openings a reminder email is sent out (manually) that contains a link to the calendar and brief instructions including the password.
Looking at the traffic Sunday is day it sees the most use, followed by Tuesday and Monday, but there is more combined total use during the week than there is on Sunday alone.

Another concern that came up is our WML input the names of the missionaries into the companionship fields which makes their last names public facing. Even though I have the more generic suggestions below the field I will have to add some wording to request that no personal information is included, or allow it to be included in a separate area so it can appear on printed or the private version only.

Thank you each again for the feedback!
Last edited by jds580s on Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Try these free tools:
MissionaryDinnerCalendar.com - Online calendar for members to sign up and feed the missionaries in your ward.
CallingManager.com - Tool to visualize and manage callings in a ward

russellhltn
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Re: Missionary Dinner Calendar

Postby russellhltn » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:49 pm

jds580s wrote:The way we are using it is by:
1. Reminding people during meetings that they can sign up online.
May do this on the spot as I can see the dates fill out by the end of our block.


Ah, a reminder to be small-screen friendly, as they may be using smart phones and tablets.
Have you searched the Wiki?

Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

katyoung1
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Re: Missionary Dinner Calendar

Postby katyoung1 » Sun May 25, 2014 8:23 pm

I LOVE THIS
Please advise when it becomes usable outside of your ward (assuming you are not in New Brunswick, Canada!). Because of geography our branch has 2 Elders in Canada and 2 Sisters in Maine and a small pot of people who regularly feed them. I'd love to find an easier coordination tool than the old list passed around or whiteboard in the foyer.

Any info on usability is appreciated (I'd be thrilled to be able to work with what you've got in your demo!).

THANK YOU for your efforts.

ponypalpokey
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Re: Missionary Dinner Calendar

Postby ponypalpokey » Mon Jun 02, 2014 10:21 am

I agree that a feature like this is long overdue. I would want to keep the interface as simple as possible, and have a few admin options. For example, I would take this calendar and instead of elders and sisters, I would do lunch or dinner for the one set of sisters we have. This could appear as it is with the triangles, but all default to gray until filled, then turn dark blue, for example.

I would appreciate a small note field where the members could add the time of the appt. when they sign up. This would not have to appear on the calendar, but perhaps a simple report that is generated?

I agree that an easy "trigger" for this is to send out the link via email or text. I think it is always a good idea to send it put to the less-active households a week before sending it to the full ward.

Please let me know when it is up!

pcardelli
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Re: Missionary Dinner Calendar

Postby pcardelli » Wed Jun 11, 2014 6:59 am

Another sign-up method might be an e-mail confirmation/notification system similar to how Craigslist works:
Basically you simply enter your e-mail, when signing up. If it recognizes you then it will just send an e-mail to confirm the appointment. If not then it will ask for additional information immediately to help with contact information, then send a confirmation e-mail anyways.

Each time a member confirms their appointment the system should then send a e-mail to the WML/Mission leader to inform them of the change. (Or optionally setup a scheduled job once a day that sends them a list of changes). This would avoid members besides the mission leader signing up other members, and help close the loop for those that were not sure.

Changes can be made by using the same confirmation e-mail link. Another logic suggestion is to not allow changes by members within so many days online (configurable by the WML). With a phone number to the WML/Missionaries available for last minute changes.

Also I have not taken a look myself, but if there is a place for a popup, or message/reminder from the WML that can be posted in notifications/dietary requirements or other helpful information that may need to be passed along.

Finally have a notification e-mail sent out to the member of the up coming dinner appointment, and to expect a call from the missionaries to confirm the time and other details.

Sounds more complicated then it is, on the user side just replace the password with e-mail address. Everything else besides the confirmation e-mail is the same. The rest is logic notifications, and e-mails. Which may help with everything else, similar to return and report (which has been working great in our ward). Also making the site mobile friendly (Layout for iPhone/android, iPad, tablet verse desktop) This last part might be the hardest, but will increase usage. Otherwise it looks like a great start.

lacrosseruss
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Re: Missionary Dinner Calendar

Postby lacrosseruss » Sun Aug 31, 2014 6:18 pm

Outstanding! I want it! When will it be available for use outside of your ward? Please let me know ASAP


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