Another productivity app… but a good one

Nowadays it’s a bit naïve to ask people to install and try new apps in their phones and tablets. Or at least that’s not my style. Firstly, because the amount of apps we’re offered every day and everywhere is just ridiculous. Secondly, because apps as well as the mobile devices we use for accessing them are a ‘personal experience’ shaped by personal and contextual factors. Having said that, this post is to ask you to install and start using Slack.

Slack is a multiplatform digital tool for ‘team communication’. It was co-founded in 2013 by a team that includes Stewart Butterfield, the person who created the photo sharing site Flickr in 2004. Slack got 8000 companies signed up 24 hours after it was released, and last year it reported more than one million of daily active users.

In my view, what makes Slack so successful is the fact that you can use it across several platforms and devices. Although I use it mostly on my Android phone, my favourite version of this software is the app developed for Windows 10 devices. Apart from that Slack offers functionalities that other messaging apps don’t have such as sharing and storing files (including PDF), integration with other software and apps (including Dropbox, Asana and many, many more), and the combination of individual and group conversations. These features are what make of Slack not just a mere messaging app, but a productivity tool. It even has a default #random channel (my favourite) for the type of conversation you have in the coffee room, the lift and corridors. Here’s a funny video explaining how Slack operates in a working environment:

Slack was introduced to the Industrial Design staff last year, and I started using it a couple of months ago. We have a Slack team for Industrial Design where we have channels for different topics and projects. What I like of this team is that all conversations and files associated to them are stored, so I don’t have to go somewhere else (my laptop or my Google Drive) every time I need something (and because the conversation is archived it’s easier to remember what we’re talking about).We also have a Slack team for the LTIF ‘I Love Blended Learning’. In this LTIF Slack has been great for managing a huge team that involves program managers and teaching staff working simultaneously in five different projects.

Beyond being productive at work, what most has impressed me of Slack is its applicability in the context of learning and teaching. This semester I created Slack teams for two of my classes, one is a Design Industry Studio and another is my Honours Supervision.

Slack screenshotScreenshots of my Design Industry Studio Team

In both courses Slack has not just improved the communication between myself and students, but has allowed me to manage each class as a ‘real’ team working in a design project. But what most impresses me is the way in which my students, most of them ‘digital natives’, have appropriated the app and took over each team. I see them messaging each other using Slack, sharing files and links related to their projects, and creating new private channels where they discuss their work independently. Apart from that Slack is great for sharing and storing files and pictures of work that has been done in class (I’ve even heard expressions such as ‘slack me that picture’ or ‘slack me the file’ a couple of times).

So please do yourself a favour, get Slack and start using it: