As we start the first week, here are some ways to you use Slack that will make class run better. Please apply them or ask questions over Slack if you have them. Make sure you’ve already read the syllabus, the Class Reading Activity (CRA) post, and logged into Slack before reading this post.
Each channel in our Slack workspace is for a particular kind of conversation. The CRA channels should be self explanatory — the work of those activities gets posted there. Here is a list of the other channels, and what we should use them for:
- #announcements will serve as a place mostly for me to post official announcements of blog post links and general class information. All of the posts here will come from me.
- #general will serve for general conversation about the course. Feel to use this channel for quick communication.
- #random is a place to connect ideas from outside of classes to our work. Don’t assume everyone is going to see it, but #random is a good place to let us know about a news story, book, or movie that you’ve seen that you think others might like.
- #help is where anyone can ask questions in a public way for me (or anyone else) to answer. I usually pay close attention to this channel so that I can answer things quickly, but everyone should feel free to jump in and help if they know the answer (example: “I know Pete changed that due date, what was it?” .. “He changed it to Friday; you can find it on the blog”). I just created this channel today, so when you’ve read this, can you click the Channel button on the left side of your Slack screen and join that channel please?
- Other channels will be created later for the major assignments and other unexpected directions that the class might take.
Direct Messages (DMs)
You can directly message me or anyone else the course via DMs. In order to do this, click the plus symbol next to “Direct Messages” in the left hand tool bar and search for the person. This is especially helpful when you are collaborating with someone on an assignment. It’s also good if you have a quick, short question for me about something. I get DMs to my phone, and try to answer them relatively quickly M-F between 9am and 3pm. Outside of those times it might take a couple of hours or half a day. If you have a complicated question, it’s better to email me (pete at kennesaw dot edu). If you’re DMing me a question pause for a second to consider whether other people would benefit from the answer too; if so, put it in the #help channel. You can also put several people on a DM message chain, creating group chat.
Using the @ feature
If you want to tag someone, respond to someone, or get their attention in a public message (in a Brainstorm message, for example), click the @ sign and start typing their user name. Slack should give you a list of people in class matching that user name. My user name on our workspace is @DrPete. Remember: there’s a difference between DMing someone and @ing them — DMs are private and @s are public.
Activity Specific Practices
Depending on what CRA you are completing here are a couple of guidelines about how to use Slack to complete them in the best way:
- Signing up for a job: When you are signing up for an activity, hit the reply button (looks like a small talk bubble on the ride side of the message) to answer “I’ll do this” under my sign up message. This is easiest because Slack counts replies under the sign up message and makes it easy to see whether a job is full or not. Please don’t sign up for a job that already has 13 people signed up for it — move to something else. Also, this is probably the only time it’s generally useful to hit “reply”; otherwise your reply gets buried under the original message and fewer people will see it.
- Brainstormer: If you are using one or more of your Brainstorm posts to respond to something that someone else said, write your post as a general message (not a reply), but include the person’s @username and give some context. That person might have written three posts several screens above, and you want to make sure everyone knows what idea you’re keying into. Here’s an example: “@Shawn When you called our attention to Ward’s uncertainty about identity, I thought about how complicated of a question this is for her because . . . ” If you are using a response to someone else as one of your Brainstorm posts, make sure you are bringing some new, sophisticated thinking to the table — not just “I liked your idea.” It’s completely acceptable to agree with, disagree with, answer a question, or offer some kind of negotiated answer (yes to this, but no to that) in a Brainstorm response post.
- Research: You’re not going to be able to make Slack give you the indentions you need to put something in MLA format; don’t worry about it. Everything else, however, should match MLA format. I know that people sometimes use citation machines on the web (for example Easy Bib) to build citations, but you should put your eyeballs on the citation before you post it. Just because the machine gives it to you that way, it doesn’t mean it’s right. I will be picky about these. If you post a citation that has things in all caps, it signals that you didn’t amend the citation before posting it. Avoid that. When you include the link to the source at the end of the citation, Slack might drag in some new media for the post (a picture and short description); don’t worry, that’s a good thing. Your citation and annotation should be in the same message, not two different ones.
- Analyze: This is the trickiest one, because it involves the most writing. You should always compose your analysis post somewhere else (Word, Google Docs, etc.) so you have time to carefully edit it. When you’re ready to post it, use Slack on a computer instead of on your phone. While you’re in the right channel (#cra_analysis) click the large green plus next to the box where you normally type messages (it’ll turn green when you mouse over it). That will you into a separate screen where you can title and edit your post. Give the post a title that is specific to what you are analyzing. When you’re finished, click the green “share” button in the top righthand corner of the screen and choose the option to share the post into the #cra_analysis channel. This way, longer stretches of writing like this (200-300 words) won’t gum up the channel; Slack takes your post and condenses it into just the title and the first couple of lines so that someone who wants to read it can open it to read more (like a blog post). One quick note: the @ feature won’t work inside the post composing screen, but still use the username of people in class when you are citing them.
- Present: This is an easy one; just type your reflection into a regular message and post to the channel (100-150 words). Be sure to use the @usernames of peers whose ideas you want to reference.
Slack allows you to add a reaction to any message in any of the channels. There are LOTS of emoji looking options; feel free to be creative and inventive. I usually use the space invader one (for lots of reasons, feel free to ask in class) or the big green checkmark one to denote where I left off grading/checking things in. It’s really useful for me if you add a reaction to announcements I’ve sent (any emoji choice you want) to let me know that you’ve seen and understood something. Especially for time sensitive information, it’s useful for me to see how quickly people are seeing information.
If you have not visited the settings in Slack, you may not be getting notifications when I post things. You don’t need to get a heads up whenever anyone writes anything into our workspace (that would be crazy), but the settings allow you to get desktop or phone notifications for a range of different things. The best things to get instant notifications are: anything posted to #announcements, anything posted to #help, and anything posted that includes your @username or @everyone .