Handling classroom project assignment using #slack

Slack is a cloud-based set of proprietary team collaboration tools and services, founded by Stewart Butterfield.[1] Slack began as an internal tool used by his company, Tiny Speck, in the development of Glitch, a now defunct online game.[15][16] The name is an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge”

In 2016 Fall semester, We started using Slack with Knowledge and Data Integration (KDI) course, which is the one of the MSc course our group teaches, in an unofficial, low-key experiment — basically just a secondary platform during the course and a place to dump files, give instructions and links.


Slack is very easy to use because you can get up and running very quickly. It’s basically a chartbord with lots of smart, elegantly integrated features that are there when you need them but stay out of the way when you don’t. These include:

  • Direct Messages — like DMs or private messages anywhere else.
  • Posts — longer than a status update, but more pared down than a full on blog or word processor document.
  • Snippets — Chunks of syntax-highlighted code for when that’s the thing you need to share.
  • @replies — much like on Twitter, these can help with conversation threading.
  • emoji — embracing the contemporary digital vernacular. (Slack also lets you create custom emoji, and you can adjust the skin tone of emoji with people or hands.)

Registering students in #slack

For registering students you just need to add the email address (see the figure below). Then they will get an invitation to join the group discussion specially created for the particular course.

From the left panel of the interface, we can check the total number of students who are registered in the course as well as the category of discussion. A discussion could be on a different topic such as general (#general), project related (#projectissues) or random (#random).

Group Discussion

From the below picture, we can see how one specific question asked by a student name @gautamshahi about “Alignment of our Ontology with Top-Level ontology”, was answered by another student (i.e. @katharinannamarie) with one screenshot.

With the help of slack, it is very easy to handle all types of qureies a student wanted to ask. Sometimes students may have some doubt or face some specific issues related to project, whereas some other student may already solve that issue. As slack is a collaborative platform and visible to all students, it may happen that one student can answer some specific question asked by another student before their teacher reply to them.

Time to forget about emailing list and start using #slack