Regarding Slack

Zach Whalen is team teaching a course using Slack at the moment. He writes up his initial observations on using it here. It’s a face-to-face course with Slack serving as the catalyst bringing all of the different sections together. I quizzed him and Lee Skallerup Bessette this morning on Twitter, to see how their experience has differed from my own.

That’s given me much to think about. Once the dust cleared, and my student numbers stabilized, I have about half the course who will engage with (or have engaged with) each other on Slack. Some of that 50% are power users and whom I see a lot of, some are once or twice’ers. Then there are my ghosts. Lord knows what they’re up to. But Slack is certainly not what they’ve been trained to expect in terms of online courses round here. I suspect I might be the only one using Slack in the context of a fully online course at this university. When round two of this course runs next year, some things to modify:

  1. More energy into explaining how Slack works, my expectations, some guided exercises to get students into the habit of using Slack. I need to ween ’em off discussion boards, mutliple choices, short answers, and the rest of the Moodle bag of tricks. This is a really big issue that needs serious consideration and unpacking. I expect there’ll be some more posts on this eventually.
  2. Total rookie error: I assumed that what I was seeing on Slack was what my students were seeing.
  3. I only discovered the /feed command today as a result of reading Zach’s piece. I would’ve used that right from the start to grab everyone’s feed from the domains (we’re set up with Reclaim Hosting) into an appropriate channel, to make that hum that signals a vibrant space.
  4. My students most emphatically do not want video chat. The /appear and /hangouts integrations are never used. I promised folks here I’d use Big Blue Button as well; those sessions have been …poorly… attended. So you’d think they’d be all over the text based interactions of Slack…

Anyway. Things are improving. Next time round will be even better.