Sunday, April 19, 2015

An Experiment in Educator Communication: Join the SlackEDU Slack Chat

*This piece originally appeared on the Medium publication The Synapse on Friday, April 17, 2015.


Believe it or not, educators are pretty cool people. Trust me, I’m a teacher and a lot of people in my professional learning network are equally hip. Therefore, I deduce our group is an awesome lot.

For some reason, the general public doesn’t feel this way. We teachers get a bunch of slack (pun intended) for being old-fashioned, boring people. Educators are stereotypically straight-laced and rather dull. So what if I like tweed and prefer my coffee black? Curse you, Ferris Bueller.

 I can wear a sweater vest and use the same tools as Silicon Valley! - — Image source, Pixabay


 People find it hard to believe that many educators are actually innovative, early adopters. Teachers rule the Twittershpere. Half a million educator pins are posted to Pinterest each day. Teachers have been podcasting way before it was cool. There are actually lessons that incorporate Instagram.

Teachers have a history of hacking nascent online tools to communicate with each other. As I recall, I wasn’t the only person on an education Ning. This very publication (The Synapse) is proof that educators are innovators, using the same platforms as tech startups, writers, and founders.

So with this in mind, I propose an experiment. I started an open Slack Chat for educators called SlackEDU. Why not use one of the hottest communication tools in the tech industry to build community in education? I think we are cool enough, and history shows we will probably gain from it.

Image by Unsplash, Pixabay
 
What is Slack and why Slack Chat for education?

Slack bills itself as team communication for the 21st century. Slack allows teams to keep all their communication in one place. Teams create channels to monitor and complete projects, each channel’s content is searchable on any device. Via Slack, “Channels include messages, files & comments, inline images & video, rich link summaries and integration with the services you use every day, like Twitter, Dropbox & Google Drive.” Basically, Slack is like a private Twitter on steroids.

Intentioned for private teams and companies, Slack is used by big players like Medium, Stripe, Airbnb, and Yelp because email was so five years ago. Fortunately, you don’t need to be in Silicon Valley to use Slack. In fact, more and more “public” communities are using Slack to communicate about common interests including music and whiskey. These “public” communities bill themselves as Slack Chats.

As I heard more and more about Slack Chats, I was shocked to see that there was not a home for educators on Slack. So I figured why not start SlackEDU? Why not create a place for teachers to come together and communicate over a new medium (pun intended)?


A peak at SlackEDU

How to get started with SlackEDU?

I am launching the SlackEDU community with this post, and I have absolutely no idea what to expect. I am currently the only person in the SlackEDU group. It may turn out to be the next big thing for building educator PLNs. It may be something where I write messages to myself. It may be something in between. I don’t know, but I really think there is potential. This is why I used the word experiment.

To join SlackEDU go to www.slackedu.net. You will need to fill out a very, very short form and I will add you. Because Slack is supposed to be for private groups within companies, I need to manually add members. Filling out the short form will give me the information needed (basically name and email) to send you an invitation.

I want to make it clear that I don’t know what is going to happen. I just thought it would be a cool thing to try because, well, teachers are cool. I do not benefit financially from this project, or have any ties to Slack. I just like communicating and meeting other passionate educators.

I look forward to seeing you on SlackEDU.

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You can also follow SlackEDU on Twitter. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas sent me a Tweet or add a note to the post.

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