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 Friday before classes start, 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 MADA-2023. 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.
One useful thing to know is that people will get a specific notification if you either send them a direct message or use their Slack handle in our message, e.g. by writing @personname can you take a look at the figure below…. Specifically, if you want to get my attention, you need to do it that way. I have too many slack workspaces going on to be able to monitor all activity. While I try to stay on top of the messages in our class workspace, I likely won’t. To ensure I don’t miss something directed at me, use the @ notation (or DM).
I will use the announcements channel in Slack to post any important course related announcements. Check regularly.
Use Slack 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.
To make things more personal, I suggest you update your Slack workspace profile by setting your name (and if you want, preferred pronouns) and uploading an image. It will help make things a bit more social, even if it’s not quite the same as in-person.
I will offer weekly synchronous meetings through Zoom. Those are completely optional. 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.
I want to emphasize that there is nothing covered in the meetings other than me addressing questions from individuals. I will not record these meetings to ensure students feel comfortable asking “dumb” questions (they are rarely “dumb”, but I don’t want anyone to feel limited out of fear of “looking stupid” in the recording). If any topic comes up that I think is worth sharing more widely, I will afterwards post a message to Slack and/or add content to the website. Therefore, if you can’t make these Zoom meetings, you are not missing anything (other than the option of asking me questions that might be tricky to discuss on Slack).
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.
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.
We will also use Github for some specific communications, related to exercises and projects. More detailed instructions on that are provided at the time you are asked to use GitHub.
We will not be using eLC. I might occasionally use the email everyone feature in eLC to send out an email to the class in the first few weeks until everyone has settled into using Slack. After that, I do not plan on using eLC. I don’t plan on posting any materials to eLC, they will all be on this website, or if it is confidential information, in our group Slack workspace.
In some semesters, I have a TA for the class. If there is a TA the semester you are taking the class, they will be another point of contact for you to ask questions. The TA will be posting an introduction in the Slack workspace with details of their availability and preferred modes of communication (Slack/Zoom/etc.).