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Lessons Learned Using Slack in Engineering Education: An Innovation-based Learning Approach

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Computers in Education Division Technical Session 1: Topics Related to Engineering - Part 1

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count

13

DOI

10.18260/1-2--34916

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/34916

Download Count

135

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Paper Authors

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Enrique Alvarez Vazquez North Dakota State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-7257-0817

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Experienced Systems Engineer with a demonstrated history of working in the electrical and electronic manufacturing field. Highly skilled in Embedded Devices, Software Engineering, and Electronics.
Extremely motivated and self-reliant with a great believe in autonomy, new ways to solve problems and ROWE approaches. Team player and devoted to create superb working environments through dedication and team culture.
Strong information technology professional with two MSc's and working on a Doctor of Philosophy - PhD focused in Electrical Engineering from North Dakota State University.

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Manoel Cortes-Mendez Georgia Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-5041-5042

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I'm a software engineer at Class Central and a graduate student in computer science at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where I'm specializing in machine learning. My research interests include artificial intelligence, education, technology, and their intersection.

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Ryan Striker P.E. North Dakota State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9058-5636

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Ryan Striker is a life-long learner. Ryan has over a decade of professional experience designing embedded electronic hardware for industrial, military, medical, and automotive applications. Ryan is currently pursuing a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Dakota State University. He previously earned his MS in Systems Engineering from the University of Saint Thomas and his BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Minnesota.

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Lauren Singelmann North Dakota State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-3586-4266

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Lauren Singelmann is a Masters Student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Dakota State University. Her research interests are innovation-based-learning, educational data mining, and K-12 Outreach. She works for the NDSU College of Engineering as the K-12 Outreach Coordinator where she plans and organizes outreach activities and camps for students in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

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Mary Pearson North Dakota State University

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Mary is a Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering with research focused in the area of bioelectromagnetics, specifically designing electronics that can be used as medical devices. She obtained her B.S. and M.S. degrees at NDSU in electrical and computer engineering. Mary is also interested in STEM education research.

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Ellen M. Swartz North Dakota State University

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Ellen Swartz is currently pursuing a M.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering at North Dakota State University. Her research interests include STEM education, innovation-based learning, agent-based modeling of complex adaptive systems, and bioelectromagnetics. She previously received her B.S. degree from North Dakota State University in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

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Abstract

In Fall 2019, we taught a Cardiovascular Engineering course using a blended approach: a mix between online instruction and face-to-face environment. This course is an interdisciplinary Innovation Based Learning (IBL) class that combines both undergraduate, graduate students, face-to-face and distance education students from different institutions. To foster student collaboration, we decided to use Slack for both instructor-to-student and student-to-student communication. This paper explores the impact of Slack on the course. First, we compiled Slack analytics over the semester, such as the number of messages sent, channel activity, and student engagement. Second, we shared a comprehensive survey about Slack at the end of the course. Finally, we interpreted the latter in light of the former to draw our conclusions and formulate a number of recommendations regarding the use of Slack. Our analytics showed students engaging on Slack throughout the semester, with activity intensifying as course deadlines approached. Other findings indicated students favored direct messages over public ones and a custom engagement metric highlighted the importance of informal Slack channels. Our survey showed that students found Slack had a positive impact on the course. Students appreciated Slack being an all-in-one communication tool, they liked some of its features, and they thought that it struck a good balance between formality and informality. However, students disliked certain aspects of Slack channels, reporting they had trouble finding older messages, and faced various technical issues. Most notably, students reported preferring email over Slack when it came to course announcements. In light of our findings, we formulated a number of recommendations regarding the use of Slack in an educational setting. These include teaching students how to use Slack early on in the semester, having a predefined student-focused channel structure, and practicing “tough love” — that is, deliberately delaying feedback to encourage students to collaborate on solving problems.

Alvarez Vazquez, E., & Cortes-Mendez, M., & Striker, R., & Singelmann, L., & Pearson, M., & Swartz, E. M. (2020, June), Lessons Learned Using Slack in Engineering Education: An Innovation-based Learning Approach Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34916

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