If any of you have integrated or are using apps such as Slack, Pronto or What's App in your courses, we would love to hear what you are using it for, has it increased student and/or faculty experience, and how satisfied are you with it!
Thank in advance for sharing your experience!
We've been testing out Pronto. I really like the platform--they solved some interesting problems by allowing both "in class" messaging and out of class messaging (i.e., being able to not have to log into Canvas to message, but instead just open the app up on your smartphone). Some students and faculty love it.
However, I think it may create an unrealistic expectation that faculty respond immediately. Probably, this can be mitigated with training and setting clear ground rules.
Slack would be awesome, but the model doesn't work out to well economically (I've asked them to consider this, and they were receptive, but (not surprising) non-committal). You could use guest-accounts in slack for students, but you only get 5 guests per 1 paid user.
Not sure about What's App, it doesn't offer any institutional controls. It would exist entirely outside your eco-system, seems like a potential recipe for disaster (FERPA, privacy, harassment, etc.)
Thank you, Nathan. Do you have any other networking tools that you are looking to test, besides Pronto? We are interested to hear what other schools are using to encourage such collaboration. ~Heidi Makela, eCornell
We recently moved to Zoom (from big blue button) for our class video conferencing. The persistent "rooms" for faculty are a big plus, they can set those up like virtual offices. Also, Zoom is clearly improving their chat options--I really hope that can be integrated into Canvas. I believe they see themselves as taking on Slack. I think some unified communications center would be awesome, but I haven't seen anyone crack that code yet (RingCentral comes close maybe, which is interesting b/c they use Zoom as their video platform).
I'm still considering testing Slack and setting up the students with free/guest accounts. Perhaps putting them all into a "student center" channel, but that wouldn't allow for class discussion very easily.
Twitter is an interesting option, I had some English faculty use it extensively. But using it in classes is idiosyncratic, so I don't see a mass roll out to be very effective. For now, I'd just encourage individual faculty to try it out. I've successfully embedded twitter feeds on a canvas home page in the past--it's not too hard.
Last, I think collaborating on Google Docs is underutilized. it can be quite fun, and using the chat tool when you are in a doc collaborating works really well-but it's strictly synchronous, unlike tools like slack and pronto which can straddle both realms pretty well (can be used synchronously and asynchronously).
I haven't found anything else yet.
Of everything, I really think Pronto has a great model and implementation and fills a missing hole in the communication realm.
have you thought about using Remind? My school licenses the paid version of Remind and we are testing their integration with Canvas. So far we are really happy with the texting capabilities in the LMS.
Here is another document that I found regarding Remind + Canvas. http://bit.ly/rmdcanvas
I believe that Remind is FERPA compliant and the nice thing is that students do not have to download any app to start receiving text messages from instructors. They can also reply back via text which is great!
Nathan, are you finding Pronto cost effective at your school? We tried a free pilot this Fall and had a couple of instructors who were enthusiastic, but the overall cost to continue after the pilot for the number of faculty who might potentially use it was not sustainable. I'd be interested in knowing more about other alternatives.
Hi Sheila, I'm still optimistic about Pronto, and we found ourselves in a similar position as you. I think the faculty who didn't jump in fell into two categories: those that didn't get it working (most of which I think is solvable), and those who just didn't make the effort (understandable, another tool to test out can occur like a big commitment).
I think the cost is reasonable, but it's not a priority over other things right now, and our situation is that our budget is maxed out, so any new thing has to take the place of an old one. We've not found any reasonable alternative.
However, since I last posted I'd mention that Zoom potentially offers unlimited chat rooms and chat participants--it the chat option was better integrated inside Canvas, I would move to it! If I had more resources I might ask a hotshot programmer to build an integration (or at least see how easily if could be done).
I've not found any alternatives. Coincidently, there's been a lot of chatter amongst some of the community groups at Educause about adapting a chat/communication system that would be better than just email listervs, a lot seem to want Slack. I'm not sure how it would directly impact this conversation, but I would like it to!
Thanks, Nathan. I have a good programmer who I might ask to take a look. I really appreciate your feedback.