Asynchronous communication

The main mode of communication will be through Slack. You should get an email invite to the Slack workspace for this class. It will go to your official UGA email and you need to use that email to sign up. If you haven’t received an email by August 20, or if you added the class late, let me know so I can send you an invite. We won’t use eLC, everything is going to happen on Slack or this website.

If you are unfamiliar with Slack, it is essentially a chat/discussion tool. The main area for the class is called a workspace in Slack. Ours is called IDEMA-Fall-2020. If you use Slack for other purposes, you might have additional workspaces. Each of them is independent. Inside the workspace are channels. Each channel corresponds to a topic. The names and descriptions of the different channels should be self-explanatory.

You need to be a member of a channel to see and participate in the channel discussion. If a channel is public, you can see it and join by clicking on the + symbol next to channels and go to ‘browse channels’. Sometimes channels are private, then only those invited can participate. When I create new channels, I try to remember to add everyone by default, but it might be useful to check occasionally if there are channels which you are not a member of but would like to be.

If you have requests for specific channels to be created, let me know.

Inside a channel, you can write messages. To respond to someone’s message, you can type your message just below the previous one. The good thing with this is that everyone sees it easily. The bad thing is that if there are a good number of messages being typed, it can be hard to figure out which ones go together. An alternative, and maybe better way is to reply in a thread.

You can also use Slack to send one or more individuals direct messages. You can use that to communicate with me or each other.

Overall, Slack is fairly intuitive, and hopefully much easier to use than the rather clunky discussion feature of eLC. But some features might need getting used to. If you have not previous Slack experience, I suggest you browse through their starter tutorials to pick up a few more tips and tricks.

I will use Slack to post any course related announcements. Check regularly. They will all be in the announcement channel.

Use the Slack channels widely to ask questions, to answer others’ questions, to notify me and others of things that are unclear/wrong, to post links to interesting resources, etc. I hope we can use Slack to build a community of learners where you help and support each other. So please don’t always wait for me to answer questions or provide feedback! Engage with each other. I will regularly visit and read the discussions and participate, but I hope that I will end up as one participant of many, not the only person providing answers.

I prefer that you use Slack instead of email to ask questions. The reason is that if you have a question, it is likely that others have it too. By asking and answering online, everyone can see it. That said, there might be instances where the question only relates to you. In such cases, feel free to either send me a direct message on Slack or email me.

Synchronous communication

The current plan is to have some synchronous meetings through Zoom. Those are completely optional. Once a week I will start a Zoom meeting. Whoever wants to join can do so, and we will use the meeting for discussions, answering questions, and whatever else you want to talk about. Think of those meetings a bit like virtual office hours or virtual in-class discussions. To ensure everyone will be able to join at least occasionally, I plan to alternate between two times each week.

Tentative dates for Zoom meetings are listed in the Schedule document. Those are subject to change. If we need to move things around, I’ll let you know on Slack and also update the Schedule document. At the designated times, I will start the meeting. I’ll wait around for 15 minutes. If nobody connects, I’ll end the meeting. If people connect, we’ll talk until we covered everything, or until I or you need to move on to our next appointments. The information for the Zoom meeting login will be provided on Slack.

I have not tried using Zoom in this way for an online class previously. So this is an experiment, depending on how things go we need to change things.

And of course, if you have something you want to discuss outside of those scheduled times, send me a message and we can schedule a meeting.

Discussion Guidelines

We can’t have in-class discussions in an online course, but discussions are an integral part of the course. We’ll do our best to get good and lively online discussions going. You will be asked to participate continuously in discussions for the duration of the course. Your contributions make up a good part of the class grade.

I hope that lively online discussions will allow us to create a sense of class community that usually comes more naturally in an in-class course. I want everyone to feel like they are part of a class, a community of students learning together, instead of just being on their own interacting with the course in front of a computer screen. To achieve that, having a lot of discussion activity is vital.

To make sure discussions work well for everyone, here are some general guidelines.

Discussion Assessment

For most modules, you’ll have to do the following (unless specifically directed otherwise):