Slack is a messaging platform and my courses will be using Slack as our primary form of communication this semester.

All updates about the class, meeting links, Q&A about assignments, etc. – the vast majority of Slack communication – will happen via Slack.

This isn’t a change brought about by teaching online. Even in the semesters when my courses have met in person, we’ve used Slack.

Getting started

  1. Via email, you should have received an invite link to the class Slack. Use that to join.
  2. Add your preferred name and a profile photo; as your professor, I have a strong preference for using an actual photo of your face for this account. 🙏🏻
    • For any other accounts I ask you to sign up for, this is not a requirement, but it really helps me in Slack.

You can use Slack in your web browser, as a desktop app and/or on mobile devices. I have no preference here – do what works for you. What’s important to me is that you see the notifications I post in Slack and participate. A couple of things you should do to make this possible:

  1. By default, Slack notifies you for a variety of things; you can configure the Slack notification settings to suit your needs.
  2. You should also make sure your time zone is properly set in Slack
  3. Finally, you can turn off all notifications either manually or by setting a notification schedule. I highly recommend setting a default schedule so you don’t get notifications at 2am.
    • Bonus: This means that if you send me a DM at 2am, I also won’t see it until after my Do Not Disturb hours. 😴

Getting the most out of Slack

One of the many perks of Slack is that everyone from the class is there – that’s so much better than just emailing me directly because your colleagues may have the same question or – so awesome – may have the answer to your question. For this reason, I recommend that you default to posting in a channel (either #general or the channel for your course) if you have a question. You can always use @christian in your message to make sure I see it, even if you post it to a public channel.

👉🏻 There are, of course, times when it makes sense to DM me directly. Please DM me at any time and don’t take the above to mean I don’t want you to DM me.

There are some additional things you can learn to do in Slack that will help you get the most out of it.

  1. Format your messages. Slack includes the ability to make text bold, italic or to make lists; learn more. Also, especially relevant for this course, you can create and share code snippets in Slack.
  2. You can add emoji reactions to any message in Slack. Learn how. I especially appreciate a thumbs-up to class announcements so I know you’ve seen it. 👍
  3. Send DMs…to yourself. You can make notes to yourself here. I use it to set myself reminders or save links I want to share to the class at certain times.
  4. Speaking of reminders, Slack has a built-in reminder system. See the Slack Help Center for instructions on creating reminders.
  5. Want info on more Slack features? Check out these 19 tips. ✳️


MICA’s guidelines for online etiquette (PDF, 102 KB) definitely apply to this space. Conversation may be casual (I definitely use the occasional emoji myself 😁), but it should always be appropriate and respectful.