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Mattermost makes it easy for students and instructors to communicate and stay connected outside of the classroom. This online chat-based application allows for real-time or asynchronous communication and collaboration between users. With its user-friendly, chatroom-style interface, students can participate in an unlimited amount of large or small-scale discussions that extend learning beyond lectures and course material.
How does Mattermost work?
Similar to Slack, a widespread asynchronous chat application for group collaboration, Mattermost allows students and instructors alike to create public channels, private group discussions, and one-on-one direct messages to facilitate communication. Users can be part of multiple discussions (channels), where they can share files and links as well as search and filter through past messages. The application can be accessed through the web or the mobile app through any device, so message notifications can be customized to suit the user’s preferences: email alerts, mobile push notifications or desktop alerts, for example.
To make large discussion groups more organized and searchable, users can use hashtags to label their messages. The hashtags can be clicked to filter by relevant messages in the discussion. Users can also directly address other users in the discussion by using the mention tag (@username), which will send a notification to the username addressed. Finally, users can even start threads within discussion groups by directly clicking “Reply” to a message. This differs from standard chatroom-style applications.
How can Mattermost help me?
Mattermost provides a flexible and intuitive discussion space for the whole class. Students can facilitate group communication and collaboration for projects. Instructors can create a general channel for their course, where students can ask questions, discuss course material, and share files. Users may find it convenient to use familiar social media attributes such as mentions (i.e. @username) and hashtags to send alerts to specific individuals and add tags to important messages. Users can always search and read through conversations that they’re part of, so there are no concerns of missing messages while offline.
For group activities, students may find the application helpful for communicating with their peers without needing to depend on external social media applications that requires friend requests or creating an entire profile. Additionally, instructors and TAs can create office hour-like discussions for students to access at any or specified time and pose questions. They can also create activity or topic-focused discussions where messages from students count as participation. Real-time messaging means that students can receive and send responses immediately, while also having the opportunity to write and edit their responses before sending them.
- Mattermost provides a real-time and asynchronous, chatroom-like discussion space (similar to Slack) that is intuitive and easy to use.
- It is hosted at UBC, meaning there are fewer security concerns with using the tool on a day-to-day basis.
- It is mobile-friendly, with apps available for both iPhone and Android as well as the option of using a desktop web version.
- Control is available over message notifications such as on-screen alerts on a desktop computer or laptop, e-mail alerts sent to your inbox, or push notifications on your phone.
- Different discussion groups of varying sizes can be created for different purposes, and users can be a member of multiple different groups and channels at once.
- The setup of multiple discussion groups works particularly well for subjects that require frequent communication and collaboration amongst group members.
- Mattermost is not integrated with current course management systems at UBC, meaning that users will have to access the application separately.
- Not 100% FIPPA compliant, as push notifications for messages go through the United States.
- Mattermost is currently not integrated with other teaching applications at UBC, as it is still being piloted by select faculties and courses.
- Further boost online communication in your course by using Piazza in conjunction with Mattermost. While Mattermost can be used effectively for group collaboration and communication among students, Piazza can be used for course content-related questions that instructors TAs and students can directly answer.
- Organizing a topic-focused discussion group can be a great way to encourage participation and detailed responses from students, especially for those who do not usually get an opportunity to voice their opinions during lectures/seminars. The conversation history afterwards would give a clear view of who is contributing to the discussion and who is not.
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