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The Autumn TEACH Symposium offers free, in-person, and online workshops and will occur on September 19 (Mon.), 21 (Wed.), and 23 (Fri.). All Stanford community members are invited to facilitate a session on teaching, learning, or technology.

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Setting up a Slack workspace for your students

Should you use Slack with Canvas or separately from Canvas? (Part 2 of 3)

Now that you have considered some of the best ways to use Slack for teaching, you may have decided to set up Slack for your course.  There are two ways to create a course workspace: via Canvas or separately in Slack itself. Consider the following when setting up a Slack workspace and channels for your students.


This article is part of a three-part series that will guide you through the process of integrating Slack into your teaching practice. 

  1. Best ways to use Slack for teaching
  2. Setting up a Slack workspace for your students
  3. Telling your students how to use your Slack workspace

Set up Slack via Canvas

If your workspace will be used by students enrolled in a single section of a course, we recommend this option. When you create a private Slack workspace for your course with Canvas, students can join the workspace via Canvas as they enroll and be added to any default channels you have created. They will be removed from your workspace automatically if they drop the course or 180 days after the course has concluded. If you have further technical questions about integrating Slack into your Canvas course, contact canvashelp@stanford.edu.

Set up Slack directly

If your workspace will be used by students enrolled in multiple sections that aren’t enrolled in a common lecture section, we recommend you request Slack workspaces directly from Slack, one for each section of your course.

Once the workspace is set up, take a few steps to maintain student privacy in your non-Canvas Slack workspace.

Set your channels as default

We recommend you set channels as default before students join your workspace​​​​​​. This will make it much easier to manage the students in your workspace. If your channels are not set as default for all members, you will need to manually add students to each channel

Set expectations for students

Some instructors like the ease with which students can contact them in Slack, while others prefer to reply less immediately. It is up to you to decide what is best for you and your students. Whatever you decide, it is important to communicate to students your intentions about how quickly you will respond in Slack. These strategies can help you manage student's expectations.

  • Set a Do Not Disturb during certain hours; this can be automated using the Outlook app.
  • Encourage students to post to a channel you set up specifically for questions so students can help and learn from each other, not just you or the staff. If students want to post anonymously, you can add apps to your workspace that support anonymous posting. This allows you to enable anonymous posting to specific channels, which you can disable later if needed. 
  • If you expect high volumes of questions, come up with a plan with your teaching team to monitor channels and set up channels and notifications appropriately. But if you want to encourage students to jump in and help their peers or if you are teaching alone, a little delay in your response doesn’t hurt.

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