Welcome to Day Thirteen of Digital January. Today we're going to take a look at Slack, a group messaging and workspace tool which is becoming increasingly popular among students and work colleagues. It's aimed at gathering small teams around a single online location where they can talk, exchange ideas and share resources.
If you've got a moment and you're enjoying Digital January - and lots of people are, according to our statistics - why not give us some feedback on our Padlet (and see Day Three for an introduction to Padlet).
What does it do?
Team work and collaboration are key in work and in learning, and teams are always on the look out for smarter ways to work and to communicate and share information. Slack is one tool that supports team communication and collaboration that’s come to the fore over the past 18 months. You can create a team or group on Slack and invite others to join and then create channels, essentially different chat rooms, around different topics or work streams. It runs on the web, but works best in the desktop versions for PC or Mac and on the mobile App versions. Users can control how much information they receive from Slack - for instance, they can set up notifications so that they are only notified when they are mentioned in a task or discussion taking place on a Slack channel.
When would you use it?
The beauty of Slack is that it also integrates with other tools like Box (for file sharing) and Skype for Business (for video and audio conversations in real-time) which the University uses, making it easier to link and share to documents and to set up virtual meetings, whether you're a student or a member of staff. Owners of groups can set up differing levels of permissions including whether a group is open or private which is useful if teachers want students to use it privately to support group project work either on-campus or with distance learners.
The private private messaging function also means teachers can provide individual feedback to students, and students can choose to interact on an individual basis if they wish. Slack is an attractive alternative to Facebook for group discussion as 1) there are no adverts and 2) because it separates work and study from your personal life.
Students take note - Slack is now reportedly being used in many businesses and organisations, so using it to support your learning and study can also help introduce you to the tools you might be using in the workplace once you graduate.
Here's a short introductory video on using Slack
And here is an interesting 45-minute video on how the Slack company uses Slack internally for teamwork - lots of great insights into features of Slack and potential uses of the tool.
How do you access it?
The free version of Slack will probably work for most users allowing you to browse and search your group’s 10,000 most recent messages. It also comes with 5GB of file storage and allows you to integrate up to 10 other apps. If you want to use it to support team-working and project management then one of the paid subscription plans might be more appropriate. You can join Slack by going to the Slack website where you’ll also find links to useful Slack guides and video guides.
You can also access it as an App for Android and Apple smart devices.
Where can you get help to use it?
Here's an overview of how to use Slack from Winthrop University;
There's also a well-developed support area on the Slack website - click here to access it.
What Digital Literacy skills will Slack help you to develop?
The University of Dundee has a Digital Literacies Framework which sets out what sort of digital skills you should have, whether you're a student or a staff member. It's unlikely you'll have all the skills contained in the Framework (yet!), but this project can help you get started in developing some new ones. To see the Framework click here and click on Digital Literacies Framework at Dundee University to download a copy.
Using a collaborative messaging and teamwork tool is an aspect of DIMENSION 4 - Manage & communicate information and DIMENSION 5 - Collaborate and share digital content as outlined in the Framework.
COME BACK TOMORROW AND THROUGHOUT JANUARY TO LEARN MORE ABOUT GOING DIGITAL