Students are Slacking—and professors are OK with it

Professors can use Slack for quicker, more reliable communication with students

Professors are finding that the team messaging platform Slack is a useful way to improve communication in the classroom, Stacey Forster writes for EducationShift

Forster, a professor of journalism and strategic communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, discusses how Slack helped students in her magazine capstone class work together to produce a magazine. 

Slack, which streamlines communication within groups, proved to be an excellent tool for helping the students collaborate more effectively. Students used the platform to instantly chat with one another, share files, and keep tabs on progress. Forster also used the app to quickly respond to student inquiries instead of digging through her inbox for time-sensitive questions.   

Forster isn't the only educator using Slack in the classroom.

"Out of its 3 million daily active users, there are many other instructors like me who are using it to organize and share information with students—and give them a platform for sharing with each other," Forster writes.

Asking her fellow instructors, Forster learned that they use Slack in a variety of ways, including:

  • Coordinating students from different classes;
  • Coordinating student media organizations;
  • Creating discussion boards on topics from class;
  • Managing large-scale projects;
  • Managing teaching assistants; and
  • Teaching large classes. 

Related post: What do students want from technology?

Loyola University New Orleans visiting professor Lisa Collins used Slack to bring students from a TV news production class and a capstone journalism class together to produce a newscast. Students dedicated a Slack channel for each newscast and used the platform to upload elements such as scripts, video packages, and photos.

"What I really appreciated about it was I could see discussion happening or not happening," she says. "I could go in and… see who was contributing and who was not participating in the conversation, and that was really helpful as an educational tool where I could track student involvement."

Paul Bush, associate journalism professor at Franklin Pierce University, uses Slack for curating stories to share and discuss with students. He also says it's a helpful alternative to email, which students don't always read (Forster, EducationShift, 8/18). 

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