We used a new product for our district collaboration at the conference we attended this weekend: Slack. Learn more here.
It was really easy to get started on slack. It felt very comfortable and was easy for everyone to be added to the group. We set it up with our district email addresses, so everyone just used their work email address and it was a piece of cake.
Everyone could participate at their level. Not everyone wanted to add to the stream. That was OK. Those who were interested were able to. 20 people joined the slack instance, and 5 of those changed their profile picture. I'll have to wait a week to see if there are some interesting stats to publish.
It is really easy to start using, and will probably get better with time.
We wanted to use it as a way to have some institutional memory of what we did this weekend. Hopefully there is some there.
Slack provides a way to share really good information with my team right away without the complication of email or knowing everyone's phone numbers.
Integrations. Integrations allow you pull things into slack. If you have used IFTTT, then you know exactly what I am talking about. If you haven't then it is basically integrating with other web services. One integration I would love to see is some integration with Moodle, which would probably be pretty difficult to do.
and @. The basics of communicating via Twitter with @ replies and # makes it really easy. It is a little confusing because each "channel" has a # in front of it, and the # is not just for sarcastic commenting. ;)
You can see all the links that were shared in a specific channel which is really cool. That could come in really handy for how we used this tool this weekend.
It is always hard to get people to try new tools, but this seemed easier for some reason. Not everyone is into using a backchannel, but this was a good, private way to do it, with a chance for something to last.
There are no likes and no replies. Maybe that isn't a con, but sometimes, you want to say "right on" with a tap. That is not possible. Also, it is possible to get lost in the conversation. Maybe there is another way to focus on that deeper conversation, or maybe this will work.
So far, I am really excited about the possibilities with this new tool. It may save me from some headaches down the road.