Appointments in Penji are scheduled by a Student with a Provider. Providers will input a calendar of availability over a 7-day period that is automatically copied over to the following seven days. Students can request times from this calendar and providers can accept or decline (you can also have sessions be auto-accepted, removing the ability to decline.
Some centers "assign" their providers hours, paying them regardless of if a session is booked, while others give providers control over their availability ("flexible" hours), paying them for any sessions that end up getting booked and worked. More on that in the Assigned vs. Flexible section below.
Appointment Process Summary
- Tap "Schedule an appointment" on the home screen (copy is customizable; reach out to your Penji POC to adjust)
- Select a course (or topic; see here for more on course/topic)
- In your Tutors CSV upload, you'll certify tutors for certain courses. This step acts as a filter to only display times from tutors that can teach the selected course.
- Pick a time - times from all providers for the selected course are shown
- Pick a tutor - multiple providers will be shown if available for that time and course. The student taps a tutor profile and can review their bio before selecting.
- Pick a location - the locations displayed depend on what location availability the provider has set for that given hour chunk (see Provider Calendar Editing)
- Topic - A question with long-response text box, and a question with selectable checklist. All of these elements can be edited for your community by Penji
- Confirm, view session on home screen, and attend the session.
- Receive an appointment request, and confirm or decline (auto-confirm is also available)
- When an appointment is confirmed, this time slot will no longer appear for other students
- Meet with the student
- Log the session
- Tutor logs are customizable, but include Student Attendance, Duration, and an Optional Comment (for admin eyes only) by default
- We usually recommend that you require completion of these logs (they can't use the system until complete), resulting in 100% data submission
Appointment Status Explained
- Pending: These are sessions where the student has requested an appointment but the tutor has not yet confirmed the appointment. Once the tutor has confirmed the status will change to scheduled. If the tutor declines, the session will switch to canceled.
- Note: if a session is pending, but the date/time has already passed, students will not get an alert if the session is canceled through the admin website.
- Scheduled: These are sessions that are at a future date where the tutor has confirmed the appointment.
- Canceled: These are sessions that either the Tutor or Student have canceled. Sessions may be canceled after a session is scheduled.
- Completed: These are sessions that have happened, meaning the scheduled date and time have passed and were not canceled. This status does not indicate student attendance. The student can either be present or absent when the status is completed. Note, the actual student attendance is shown on the Sessions Page.
The appointment status from the student perspective is explained here: Appointments Introduction.
Session Details, Notifications, Calendar Invites
The session is placed on the student and provider home screens, once tapped on opens Session Details. In session details, users can:
- Chat, including file sharing
- Cancel the session
- Open the call link (if a virtual location) or view the call location (if in-person)
Mobile-app Push Notifications and Email Notifications are sent to both provider and student throughout the process, including a 15-minute reminder before the session.
Confirmed appointments will send confirmation and calendar invites via email to all users in .ics format.
Admin-Scheduled Sessions (+ Custom Group Sessions)
Admins can create sessions for students and tutors. This is done on the Sessions tab -> Create Session. This form allows you to input whatever session attributes you want - student name, tutor name, course, location, time, etc... but please note, this form overpowers all restrictions that our system would normally impose! You can "force" a session no matter the situation (the location is full or not open at that time, the tutor already has a session at that time, the tutor is unavailable at that time, etc.). So ensure that your selections work for all parties.
You can also create group sessions, even if your community only usually supports 1-on-1. Select Group for Kind and make the session with the first student; repeat this process with the same exact attributes (course, provider, location) for the second and more students, and these students/provider will see the session as a group in the platform.
Center Design Options for Appointments
Appointment availability is entered by providers directly into the app, or edited by admins in the admin panel (see Provider Calendar Editing for more details).
Assigned vs. Flexible Appointment Hours
"Assigned" hours is our name for the traditional method of scheduling, where you will assign providers certain hours for the week/term, and they will work and be paid for those hours even if they aren't booked. In the "Assigned" case, a common flow is to ask providers to input their weekly availability into Penji at the start of a semester, viewing this in your admin panel (we recommend using the Provider Calendars export at Providers -> Manage -> Export Provider Calendars), selecting some subset of hours for each provider to create appropriate coverage, and then editing these hours directly. See this article for more details on Provider Calendar Editing.
"Flexible" hours refers to giving providers autonomy in inputting their own schedules. Most centers combine this with our feature "Provider Maximum Hours Worked" setting in the admin panel. In this way, a provider can put in many hours of availability (say, 20+ hours) which creates widespread coverage for students, but once they hit their maximum of booked appointments for the week (say, 8 hours booked), they will be removed from the listing for future searched students. You can try flexible appointments, analyze the resulting schedule (as described above), and ask for small adjustments from certain tutors to optimize. This flexible model saves staff a lot of time, and you only pay tutors for what they actually work, saving money. It is also popular with tutors.
Combining Appointments with Drop-in
Many centers choose to support drop-in hours as their "core" function, often staffing an in-person center in normal business hours. With that foundation of guaranteed hours for tutors, you can:
- Allow tutors to schedule Flexible appointment hours in any hour outside of their drop-in shifts (eg. weekend or nights); Penji's data capabilities allow you to easily count the number of appointments a tutor actually ended up working, adding that tally to the tutors drop-in pay for the week.
- Schedule tutors for appointment hours that overlap their drop-in hours; this means that students can book appointment hours during a tutors' drop-in shift. If they do, Penji will remove that slot from the real-time drop-in schedule, so that students viewing the days drop-in hours will see an accurate result.
The vast majority of Penji programs stick with 1-on-1 appointments only and use Sections if to manage groups; that said, in some cases using groups within the appointment mode makes more sense. Group appointments (enabled by Penji) simply mean that more than one student can book the same time/course with a tutor, and if they do they will all be lumped into a group. Once a course/time is reserved by the first student, only other students selecting the same course can book that slot and group up.
You can use "Create Session" to "force" a group together, even if you don't use group appointments as just described. See the "Create Session" section a few headings above.
Attendance Logging, Feedback, and Data
When a session is requested by a student, it goes to your "Sessions" tab within your admin panel. This data can be viewed there or exported to CSV. Once a tutor is done with a session, they must log the session using Penji (completing a "feedback log"). In the feedback log for appointments, the tutor will submit:
- Student attendance (shown in the Sessions table)
- Duration of the session (shown in the Sessions table)
- A comment which can be viewed by admins only (shown in the Sessions CSV export and the Sessions -> Feedback tab)
For more on viewing session data, please review this article.
Key Appointment Settings
Automatic No-Show Handling (Admin Panel)
The student will be suspended for __ days after missing __ appointments (configurable in Settings, including customizable emails automatically sent after each missed appointment).
Lead Time (Penji Controlled)
How many hours in advance must a student book? This setting is often used when combining drop-in and appointment availability that overlaps - with a 12-hour lead time, a student can trust that the drop-in schedule they see for that day will not change (because providers cannot be booked for appointments within 12 hours of a session).