Goodbye, Group E-Learning

Let’s create collaborative classrooms in Slack.

One of the ways to measure success is by seeing how fast and how furiously your competition tries to imitate you. As it relates to collaborative team communication tool Slack, recent weeks have been furious indeed. Microsoft Teams, Facebook at Work, and most recently BroadSoft all are crowding into the market. The competition is moving quickly to try to overtake Slack’s dominant market share—seemingly with a little help from Slack itself in the form of a recent full-page New York Times ad—which many have said was a bit blissfully unaware of its competitors’ determination and commitment to create an even better collaborative mousetrap. Slack would be wise not to suggest that we all eat cake.

So why are so many people in the education field so interested in Slack as a platform for learning? After all, it wasn’t created specifically to be a platform for learners, yet every day, more and more educational professionals see it as an alternative to boundaried e-learning software, which is created with designs in the aggregate for groups of learners without the full capabilities of personalization and access.

What does Slack—a collaborative team software created for groups to have better, quicker, more seamless communication and access to resources—have in common with learning platforms? Everything.

Slack is like a drug created to treat one illness, but is found in its test trials to do something else really well. If you are interested in new models of learning that are social and constructive, and align with individualized learner resource curation and just-in-time mentorship, Slack is a great way to house all of your wants for learners, including data, analytics, and measurement in a robust and agile platform. It is, on its free tier, an open platform to pilot a new form of group learning and curation. And free, as they say, is a great way to transition into a paradigm of new learning.

In my new book, “SlackEduRooms: Learning Design for the Future,” I see the future as a place where designers can create fertile ecology environments for discovery, administrators can follow and metricize social and outcome data, and learners can control their own paths and resources—to meet their own needs. We learn by doing. We learn as we are in the flow of tasks, in collaboration with others. There is no longer a need to separate information from the task itself in an ecology—communication, collaboration, resources, and tasks are more seamless. #slacknewlearning.

But wasn’t Slack created so teams could essentially get rid of e-mail hell? Yes. But now it does so much more: It functions as a learning ecology environment, or even an adjunct collaboration space to a course, depending upon the goals of the designer. It’s all up to you. And did I mention it was free?

I will be presenting “How to Create a Slack Collaborative Learning Environment with xAPI Compatibility” February 1 at the Training 2017 Conference & Expo in San Diego. I will go over simple implementation strategies all the way up to the fancy utilization of Bots, xAPI, and workflows. Even artificial intelligence (AI) if we have time. See you there!

In the equation of technology and learner, Myra Travin believes the key element is how humans develop a relationship with the tool they are using and how together they co-create a future state of resourcefulness. She is an innovative LX designer with experience in corporate, higher education, and nonprofit environments.