Project Description

Using Slack for student communication

Organising teams and facilitating communication

Purpose

Slack is a web-based communication tool that allows teams, or groups, to collaborate, communicate and share files through the use of individual channels dedicated to the task at hand. It works in web browsers as well as Android or Apple devices via the Slack app.

Slack works in web browsers as well as Andriod or Apple devices via the Slack app

Learning Outcomes

Improving the classroom experience

Using an authentic industry-based tool such as Slack, is great for organising teams and facilitating communication. This is in line with RMIT assessment processes, which state, when designing assessments, that ‘[g]roup work… reflects collaborative work in the relevant industry or profession’ (RMIT University 2018, p. 6). Slack is ‘proving popular with more and more businesses each year’ (Heath 2016, para 1) and will provide an experience that students can carry with them into their future workplaces.

Ideally, online conversations should happen in an organic, free-flowing manner that simulates the face-to-face experience. The structure and interface of discussion boards or email can disrupt the natural flow of ideas between people. As an alternative, the informal nature of Slack allows people to quickly exchange ideas without the formal conventions presented by other online communication channels.

Wolber (2016) observed that his class ‘had more conversations in Slack than I’ve ever had among a class with email, Google+, or SMS.’ (para 12). The clean, simple Slack interface also promotes easy access and uptake by users.

Slack can be used to organise teams and distribute files, links or other content as well as communicate assessment requirements and provide answers to relevant queries. The simple messaging function allows team members to quickly communicate while retaining conversation histories for further reference. The informal nature of these dialogues is another advantage, opening up communication. As Wolber (2016) notes, ‘… students in my class clearly preferred the quick, informal nature of Slack’ (para 13) over the more formal email approach.

By reviewing the activity within each group’s channel, Slack may also be used to track participation within a group. RMIT assessment processes state that group work ‘assesses the process as well as the product of working in groups’ (RMIT University 2018, p. 5).

The following resources will assist you with understanding and implementing Slack in your course

References

Heath, W 2016, Tips: What are the best ways to use Slack for business?, TechRepublic, viewed 19 September 2018, <https://www.techrepublic.com/article/tips-what-are-the-best-ways-to-use-slack-for-business/>.

Newlands, M 2017, 10 tricks for using Slack to execute your business strategy like a pro, viewed 19 September 2018, <https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/301172>.

RMIT University 2018, RMIT Assessment Processes August 2018, RMIT University, Melbourne.

Slack 2015, What is Slack?, viewed 19 September 2018,  <https://youtu.be/9RJZMSsH7-g >.

Slack 2018, Slack website, viewed 19 September 2018, <https://slack.com/>.

Wolber, A 2016, Slack goes to college: How it can improve the classroom experience, TechRepublic, viewed 19 September 2018, <https://www.techrepublic.com/article/slack-goes-to-college-how-it-can-improve-the-classroom-experience/>.