What is Slack?
Slack is a collaboration platform for your class. It is a place where all course communication can take place. You can have public collaborations with your class and/or private conversations with your students. Collaboration platforms centralize communication making it more efficient and effective than email.
Why should I use Slack in my class?
To connect with and better understand your students. Slack approaches conversations in a casual manner and provides a higher level of anonymity than face-to-face or video communication. These slight differences make a big difference in a student’s willingness to open up and share ideas. Put simply, this type of communication is more natural for students today.
To increase student-to-student connection. Slack creates a digital community where students can easily recognize other students’ contributions. Micro recognitions can be as simple as giving an emoji. Apps like ClassCred can be used to tie small rewards to these emoji reactions.
To provide a state-of-the-art mobile experience. One of the biggest problems with LMS-style discussion boards is the difficulty in actually accessing and using the board. Typically, students must log-in to interact with the board. Communicating needs to be as easy as sending or receiving a text or students will not engage in the discussion. The Slack mobile platform accomplishes this beautifully.
To better organize communication. All course communication can take place in Slack. Slack communication offers several advantages compared to email: a) All conversations are in one place. Unlike email, conversations are organized around topics not people. It is much more efficient to have all communication in a centralized class workspace rather than buried within an inbox of unrelated emails. b) No spam. Spam has made email too distracting. Only invited participants can add to the discussion. c) Posts are editable. How often do you send an answer to a student and then realize there was an error? These platforms always allow editing, even on direct messages to students. This leads to clearer communication which is critical when teaching.
To manage communication in large classes. One of the biggest misconceptions is that Slack will significantly increase faculty workloads. How can you possibly manage a class with thousands of posts? The answer is you don’t need to manage it. 99% of communication is student-to-student. Think about how much unmanaged communication occurs in and outside of a FTF class. As the number of conversations grows, you can tag users to ensure that students and faculty do not miss critical information. You only need to respond to messages where you are tagged. Often faculty workload can decline, because just like in FTF courses, students answer the majority of other students’ questions.
To be able to track engagement. We talk a lot about engagement in online education, but it is rarely measured. One reason it’s not measured is, without a community like Slack, there is little engagement. Slack with ClassCred allows you to track emojis, posts, questions, and other engagement measures in real time.
To prepare your students for the modern workplace. Currently, 61 of the Fortune 100 companies use Slack and the popularity of this platform is growing. Using Slack in school prepares students for the way professionals are communicating in the real world.
Student discussion on Slack with ClassCred