How to Communicate With Students on Slack

Table of Contents

Starting from September 1, 2022, Slack will be making changes to its plans. Please be advised that the contents of this article are based on the previous version of Slack. For information on “UTokyo Slack,” which is provided by the University of Tokyo, see the page on UTokyo Slack (in Japanese). Note that some of the features offered by UTokyo Slack will differ from those explained in this article.

Highlights of This Article

This article introduces how to use Slack to communicate with students and more.

Applicable Situations

Limitations of Slack

What is Slack?

App Description

Slack is a messaging platform that allows you to communicate in real time. In the platform called “workspace”, you can exchange and manage messages in separate “channels” for different topics and people.

(1) Sharing Information via Channels

You can create a “channel” for each theme or content to communicate. (For details, see the “How to create a channel” section.) Separate channels allow you to share information within your team by topic, and organize information as well as interactions. (For details, see the “How to Use Channels in the Classroom (for teachers)” section.)

There are two types of channels: public channels and private channels. If you set a channel to private, you can create a closed space where only authorized users can search and join the same workspace. (For details, see the “Have Private Conversations Between Faculty Members and Teaching Assistants” section.)

(2) Using DM and Mention Functions to Send Messages

You can also use Direct messages (DM) to send private messages. (For details, see the “Contact Students Individually” section.)

If you want to respond to a specific person in the channel, or if you want to notify them, you can use the mentions function to make it easier for them to see your message. (For details, see the “Receive Questions” section.)

(3) Using Emoji for Casual Communication

Emoji can be added to react to a message. You can ask students to react when they read an announcement, which can be used to prevent communication from going unanswered or to conduct surveys in class. (For details, see the “Class Communication and Casual Surveys” section.)


How to Install Slack and Create a Workspace

Installing the Slack App

Below, we will show how to use the app version. (The procedure is mostly the same for the web version.)

How to Create a Workspace in Slack (Creating a Workspace for Your Class)

  1. Click “Sign in to Slack”.
  2. You will see the following screen in your browser. Press “Continue with Google” and sign in with your ECCS Cloud Email account (or your personal email address).
  3. Press “Create another workspace” at the bottom of the page.
  4. Set up the workspace (e.g. class name). The “company or team name” will be the name of the workspace. It is recommended that you use a workspace name that makes its purpose easily recognizable (e.g. which class the workspace is for). In this example, the workspace is named “xxxx Seminar”.
  5. “What the team is working on now” is the name of the “channel” in the workspace. If using in a class, it is useful to set up channels such as “Basic Information” (For details, see the “How to Use Channels in the Classroom (for teachers)” section. Here we created a “questions-on-assignments” channel.
  6. Next, you will see a screen that asks you who the users of the new channel are, “Who do you email most about?”. This is where you enter the email addresses of the people you want to invite to your workspace. Steps on sending invitations will be introduced in the next section. 7.The class workspace setup is now complete.

How to Invite New Members (Inviting Students to Your Workspace)

How to Use Slack in Class

Here we introduce how to use Slack effectively in class. As an example, we will use a fictitious course called “Political Science”.

How to Use Channels in the Classroom (for teachers)

Class Communication and Casual Surveys (#announce-all)

Compile and Organize Course Information (#introduction)

Receive Questions (#questions)

Tips: We encourage you to receive questions in channels.
If you discuss questions about the class on a “channel”, the questions will be visible to other students. This helps reduce the number of similar questions and hence the burden of responding to many questions. It may also lead to new discussions and promote interactive learning. (DM is recommended for communication of students’ personal matters such as grades and assignment submission.)

Have Private Conversations Between Faculty Members and Teaching Assistants (🔒 team-professor).

Share Materials Within Groups (#group-01, 02, 03, …)

Contact Students Individually (Direct Message)

If you need to contact a student individually, such as when an assignment has not been submitted, you can do so via DM.

(Advanced) Link with Zoom

You can find out how to link in (Zoom for Slack (Slack help center)). By linking, you can start Zoom smoothly from Slack.

How to Use Channels in the Classroom (for students)

Ask a Question to the Teacher (#question)

To make sure you get a response, it is a good idea to mention the teacher. You can do this by putting @ in front of the teacher’s Slack name as shown in the red circle.

Chat With Other Students (#chat)

You can also create channels for casual chat among students. It is suggested that you avoid talking about topics unrelated to the class on other channels.

Tips: Creating Class Rules

When using a Slack workspace in class, it is a good idea to set class rules for using the workspace, and to share the rules with students in advance. In particular, please be careful of handling personal information such as email addresses (See Manage email display (Slack help center).).

Good Practices and Examples of Applications

We would like to thank Slack Japan K.K. for providing us with images and other support in creating this article. Thank you for your kind cooperation.