Slack for Students

Introduction

Slack is a workplace environment for team communication. It has many advantages compared to traditional email and instant messaging, but it should not be confused with them. People do not get instant notifications unless they are tagged and have slack downloaded on their phones. Most tech companies use it at work, which offers an opportunity for CYF trainers to be available (as they can switch among workplaces).

Slack should be kept tidy and organised to maximise its usefulness.

Fundamentals

  • Use threaded communication (replies to a topic should always be in a thread)

  • Edit your entries instead of adding extra information that you forgot in a message

  • Learn to tag people and groups (every class is in a user group)

  • Tag people only when you need their attention

  • Use plain text names instead of tags if you don’t require a response from people

  • Start a new thread if you are talking about a completely different topic

  • Know what channels to use to make posts and ask for questions

Student communication

  • Learn to use thumbs up to confirm announcement has been read

  • Communicate in advance if you want to work with another classmate and specify time and topic (you can tag the class)

  • Ensure you reply in threads to communication and tag relevant people to get their attention to arrange on working together

  • Use the student channel for organisation and non-class related discussion

  • Start calls in the channel so that other students can join you.

    Ensure that it is titled with clear description of what are you working on

  • Delete any failed group calls to keep the channel clear

  • Inform the class as soon as possible if you are not planning to come or able to come to class

Asking Questions

In order to make is easy for people to answer your questions when asking for help it's important that you have the following information

  • The homework that you're working on

  • What isn't working in your code or what you don't understand

  • What you expect to happen

  • A link to your code on Github

You should use this template:

Homework:
Problem:
Expected:
Code:

For example

Homework: Create a Website
Problem: The Headings on my website don't look right.
Expected: The heading should be much bigger than the other text on the page. I've tried to use a H1 tag but it doesn't work
Code: https://github.com/CodeYourFuture/my-website/pull/46

You can read more about asking good questions here

Volunteer communication

  • Make sure to tag students and graduates for events and create user groups for core volunteers

  • Share social meetings and pictures in public channels

  • Summarise meetings in minutes using assigned shared document

Effective Slack for Beginners

Slack is a powerful messaging platform, rich in features and lots of additional extensions. Here we collected some basic tips and hints for new users how to use it effectively and utilize its capabilities.

Take note: The description is based on the user interface in desktop Slack. It varies on different platforms.

Conversation threads

Threads keep discussions in Slack organized usually within a channel but it also can be used in direct messages. They let you ask questions, add context, or give feedback on a specific message, all without disrupting a conversation's flow. A thread will remain connected to its original message.

Why use threads?

  • Clearly tie your feedback and thoughts to a specific message or file.

  • Organize conversations and preserve meaningful context.

  • Encourage open discussion without distracting others.

To initiate a new thread on a post, hover over the message you'd like to reply to, click the "Start a thread" icon.

See more for how to use threads.

Mention to grip members' attention

Sometimes you’ll need to get the attention of another member when having a conversation in Slack. When you send a message and include an @mention, the person you mention will be notified. 📣

To mention a member or a group, start typing the @ symbol followed by a member’s name that will give you a list of members to choose from. To mention a member or a group, start typing the @ symbol followed by a member’s or group's name. You will see a list of matching members or groups to choose from. When you find the name you want to mention, select it from the list.

You can also mention user groups if you would like to reach a whole group.

See for more how to mention members.

Making calls

Sometimes it helps to talk things out. With Slack calls, you can make a voice or video call to any member of your workspace.

To start a call from direct message, open a direct message then click the 📞 phone icon in the top right corner. Your call will start right away, and the member you're calling will receive a pop-up notification.

To start a call from a channel, open a channel and click "Details" in the top right then choose 📞 Call button. Slack will post a message to the channel and any member (up to 15 total) can join by clicking the Join button.

See for more how to about calls.

Bookmarking messages

You can save messages and files in Slack to bookmark them and reference them later. This helps you to find them later, without having to delve into the comment tsunami!

To bookmark a post, hover over the post and click the “Save" bookmark icon.

To remove a bookmarked item, simply click on the star again, and it will disappear from your list.

To list all saved messages, click on the "Saved" menu on the menu bar.

See for more how to save messages.

Edit and delete messages

Quite often we end up sending a wrong message or a message with a typo in a hurry. Thankfully, Slack lets us correct or even delete such messages.

In general, you can edit only the messages that you have sent. The edited messages will have grayed out Edited label next to them.

To edit or delete a message, hover over the message and click on the three dots icon and select "Edit message" or "Delete message" correspondingly. Once you delete a message, it will be removed for everyone.

Tip: Use the up arrow key on PC to directly edit recently sent messages.

See for more how to edit and delete messages.

Direct Message

Another way to save resources is to share them with yourself! By setting up a Direct Message (DM) to yourself you can begin your own personal journal. It can be a place for you to save notes, personal to-do lists, documents and more!

To share a post or resource from a channel to yourself simply hover over the post and click the “Share message” arrow and send to yourself. It will be then saved in your personal DM.

Tip: Edit your message to cross out tasks that you’ve finished or use an emoji reaction to mark the whole list as complete. ✅

See for more how to send DM to yourself.

Keep messages for group

Pin posts or set topic description to keep useful or important messages in view for wider audience in a channel. There is a couple of items in the channel header. Among others, you can see already pinned messages or get an overall about the channel.

To pin a message, hover over the post, clik thre three dots icon (“More actions”) then select “Pin to channel”. Unlike starred messages, pinned messages are visible for every member of the channel. It works like a public board on the classroom wall.

To set channel topic, hover over the current topic, click the topic to edit it. Generally it keeps useful information for the channel members for instance the channel’s purpose, links etc. If the topic is too long, it might be trimmed. To see the whole text, hover over the topic.

See for more

View mentions and reactions

If we have been tagged in a post or someone has added to a thread we were involved in, Slack gives us a notification making it easy to follow along with a discussion.

A way of checking in on posts we have been involved with recently, is to use the “Mentions & Reactions” menu on menu bar. Here Slack shows us all our recent activity allowing us to find recent replies or reactions to our messages. This feature is great as usually Slack does not give us a notification for any reactions to our messages. So to check if someone has left an emoji to your message try checking your activity!

Reduce noise

More channels you follow, more distracting they become that can turn to be very fustrating after a while. If you need focus time or time away from work, there are many options in Slack to help you concentrate. You can pause your notifications using Do Not Disturb (DND) mode, mute channels or conversations, or leave unrelevant channels.

To set DND schedule for routine times you'd prefer not to be notified, click your workspace name in the top left, hover over "Pause notifications", choose a time frame from the menu or select Custom to set your own.

To mute channels, right click the channel you’d like to mute and select "Mute channel". Muted channels will be greyed out at the bottom of the sidebar list.

See for more technics on how to reduce noise.

Reminder

Busy as a bee, or maybe feeling a little forgetful? Send reminders to yourself for important messages, events or anything you might need to come back to later.

To create a reminder to a post, hover the post and click the three dots icon (“More actions”) then select "Remind me about this" to remind yourself to come back to it later.

To create a general reminder, simply open the ⚡ shortcuts menu to set reminder for yourself.

See for more how to set reminder.

Accessing the right information in Slack is key to working smarter, faster, and more productively.

Click the 🔍 search field in the top right to open the search window, type what you are looking for into the search field, and optionally add modifiers to narrow the scope. Slack will suggest relevant channels, files, and recent searches. Choose a suggested option in the list to open it.

Search modifier

Modifiers help narrow the scope of what you are looking for, so you can find information faster. You can also combine more modifiers together to get a more specific search result.

  • Use from:@Name to find text shared by someone, e.g.: from:@Sarah homework

  • Use in:#Channel to find text in a specific channel, e.g.: in:#class-3

See for more search and modifiers.

One-click responses and approvals: Say it with emoji

Emoji can be a lot of fun, but we also use them as reactions all the time to speed up work. Watch for opportunities to use reactions in place of short messages that might otherwise clutter conversations in a channel.

Here are some example.

  • 👍= “Acknowledgement I’ve seen your message”, “I agree” or “I'm in”

  • ✅or ✔ = “Approved” or “I finished the training”

  • ➕or 💯= “I agree”

  • 👏= “Great job!” or “Well done!”

Same emoji can have different meaning depending on the context.

Adjust zoom level

If the text size strains your eyes to read it, adjust the zoom level to make the app and text display larger or even smaller.

To adjust zoom level, click your workspace name, choose "Preferences" then click "Click Accessibility" and finally select your zoom level.

See for more how to adjust zoom level.