About Slack for Canvas

What is Slack?

Slack is MIT’s Canvas integration for messaging and collaboration. Teaching teams can create a private Slack workspace for a course. Members of the workspace can chat together in conversation channels for topics, projects, and groups, and send direct messages.

How do I download Slack? 

To join your course’s Slack workspace, first download the Slack app on your computer or phone. Then, navigate to your Canvas course and click on Slack (Beta) in the Course Navigation Menu to access your course’s Slack workspace. You will be prompted to open the Slack Desktop or Web app.

Select your device below to download and install the Slack app on your computer or mobile device:  

I’m new to Slack. What terms do I need to know? 

  • Workspace: A Slack workspace is made up of channels, where members of the teaching team and students can communicate and work together. 
  • Channels: Slack organizes conversations into dedicated spaces called channels. Channels bring order and clarity to work—you can create them for any project, topic, or team. In Slack, channels can be public or private:
    • Public channels promote transparency and inclusivity. Any member of your course’s Slack workspace can view and join a public channel, giving everyone access to the same shared information. Messages or files posted in a public channel can be searched by other members of your workspace.
    • Private channels are for conversations that should not be open to all members. You must be added to a private channel by someone who’s already a member of the channel. Messages or files posted in a private channel can only be searched by members of that channel.
  • Direct Messages: Direct messages (DMs) are smaller conversations in Slack that happen outside of channels. DMs work well for one-off conversations that don’t require an entire channel of people to weigh in, like if you wanted to ask a fellow member of the teaching team to reschedule a meeting. 
  • Mention (@mention): When you send a message and include an @mention, the person you mention will be notified. Type the @ sign followed by a member’s full name or display name. 
  • Threads: Threads help you create organized discussions around specific messages. They let you discuss a topic in more detail without adding clutter to a channel or direct message (DM) conversation. 
  • Notifications: Notifications in Slack keep you informed of the work you care about, whether you’re at your desk or on the move. Use the steps below to customize your desktop, mobile, and email notifications.
    • By default, Slack enables “Do Not Disturb” mode every night from 10PM to 8AM to pause notifications. During these hours, Slack will not send you desktop, mobile, or email notifications. If someone tries messaging you, they will see a warning that you have “Do Not Disturb” on. They can override this by clicking an “urgent” link, but otherwise you will not get the message until after 8AM. You can customize when “Do Not Disturb” is on or turn it off completely in your notification settings.

For a list of all terms, refer to the Slack Glossary. 

How do I learn how to use Slack? 

Slack’s Help Center offers comprehensive resources for new Slack users: 

Using Slack for Teaching & Learning

How do I use Slack to enhance my teaching? 

  • Setting Up Slack for Student Success: Are you new to Slack? Learn how to create your course Slack workspace, organize channels, promote student buy-in, and build community. With some thoughtful effort, Slack can become an invaluable teaching tool.
  • Make Lectures Interactive with Slack Backchannels: Learn how integrating a digital backchannel through Slack can enhance traditional classroom learning and foster more engaging, inclusive, and meaningful learning experiences for students.

What information should I share with my students?

If you plan to use Slack in your Canvas course, consider posting an announcement for students with the following information 

Below is a sample announcement you could post in Canvas. Feel free to tailor this to suit your specific needs:

Hello everyone!

Big news for the upcoming semester: we’ll be using Slack in our course! Slack is a messaging tool that’s going to take our classroom collaboration and communication to the next level. Why use it? Because research has shown that Slack can greatly enhance student engagement, collaboration, and communication in the classroom. Let’s explore together and see if Slack can help us take our learning community to new heights.

To ensure a positive and productive experience, I encourage you to review this Slack etiquette guide. Two important tips to keep in mind are:

  • Default to shared channels: Reserve direct messages for private conversations. Use channels for most communication to foster collaboration and ensure relevant information is accessible to the wider group.
  • Organized discussions: Use threads to keep conversations organized and prevent clutter in the main channel.

Lastly, please note that students will be automatically removed from the course’s Slack workspace 30 days after the end of the term.

I’m excited to incorporate Slack into our course and I look forward to connecting with all of you in the upcoming semester. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.

[Your Name]

Can I grade students on their contributions in Slack?

There are currently no built-in tools within Slack for instructors to grade student contributions or view participation analytics. However, instructors can still incorporate Slack activity into overall course participation grades through manual tracking. For example, instructors can let students know that substantive Slack posts will count toward a participation grade and then periodically review Slack conversations to assess students’ engagement levels and assign participation scores accordingly. While not as convenient as automated grade passback to Canvas, manually factoring Slack into participation grades is one way to incentivize and assess student contributions within the limitations of the platform.


Who can create a Slack workspace in a Canvas course? 

Any member of the teaching team (e.g., Teacher, Course Admin, TA) can create a Slack workspace for their Canvas course. 

Note: The Slack integration in Canvas can only be used in credit-bearing courses at MIT. 

How do I create a Slack workspace for my Canvas course? 

Just one member of the teaching team needs to create the private Slack workspace for your course. Once it’s created, other teaching team members will be prompted to join the workspace when clicking on Slack (Beta) in the Course Navigation Menu. 

For step-by-step instructions, refer to How to Create a Private Slack Workspace for Your Canvas Course. 


After I create a Slack workspace for my Canvas course, how do other members of the teaching team and my students access it?

For step-by-step instructions, refer to How to Join a Slack Workspace from a Canvas Course. 


  • Your Canvas course must be published in order for students to join your Slack workspace. 
  • Teaching teams and students must access their Slack workspace for the first time through their Canvas course by clicking on Slack (Beta) in the Course Navigation Menu. Subsequently, teaching teams and students can access it directly through the Slack app of their choice (e.g., Desktop, iOS), rather than from Canvas. 

Is my course’s Slack workspace accessible to anyone at MIT? 

No, your course’s Slack workspace is private and restricted to those who are enrolled in your Canvas site. This includes instructors, course admins, teaching assistants (TAs), and students. To learn more, refer to the Enrollments section below. 

How long do teaching teams and students have access to a course’s Slack workspace? 

  • Students are automatically removed from a course’s Slack workspace 30 days AFTER the end of the term.
    • Refer to our calendar for this year’s term end dates.   
  • Teaching team members retain access to their course’s Slack workspace indefinitely via the Slack app of their choice (e.g., Desktop, iOS).  
  • Slack workspaces for Canvas courses can be deleted upon request. To learn more, refer to the Delete section. 


Do my Canvas enrollments sync with my course’s Slack workspace? 

Yes. By enabling the Slack integration in Canvas, your course roster in Canvas will sync with your Slack workspace every 24 hours or so. That means you don’t have to worry about inviting students or removing them manually if they add or drop your course. This seamless integration ensures that the enrollments in your Slack workspace remain up-to-date without any extra effort on your part.  

If a student drops my course, will they be removed from my course’s Slack workspace automatically? 

Yes. When a student officially drops your course in WebSIS, they will be automatically removed from your course’s Slack workspace within 24 hours or so. 

Can I add my colleague at MIT to my course’s Slack workspace? 

The Slack workspace for your course is designed to be private and limited to individuals enrolled in your Canvas site. To grant access to a colleague at MIT, you would need to add them to your Canvas site using the Membership Tool. Once they are added as a member of your Canvas course, they will be able to join the corresponding Slack workspace and participate in the communication and collaboration within it. 


Can I delete my course’s Slack workspace? 

Yes, private Slack workspaces for Canvas courses can be deleted upon request by a member of the teaching team. If you want to delete your course’s Slack workspace, contact Information Systems and Technology (IS&T) and they will assist you with your request. 

Tip: We recommend informing the rest of your teaching team about your request to delete the Slack workspace for your course. This will ensure that they are aware of the impending removal and can take necessary actions, such as downloading any important content (e.g., files) they wish to keep. By informing the team in advance, you can minimize any potential disruption to the workflow and ensure a smooth transition to alternative communication and collaboration methods. 


Why did I get an “Unavailable” error message as a student? 

Your teaching team may not have created a private Slack workspace for your Canvas course yet or may be in the process of doing so. 

Why am I unable to access the Slack Workspace for my Canvas course as a student?  

There are two conditions under which you will be removed from the Slack workspace: 

  1. If you are no longer a member of the course. For example, you officially dropped the course.  
  2. If it has been more than 30 days after the end of the term. Refer to our calendar for this year’s term end dates.   



MIT faculty, staff, and students can search Slack’s Knowledgebase articles. 

Information Systems and Technology (IS&T)

Submit a support request for any questions related to Slack. 

MIT Sloan Teaching & Learning Technologies

Search our Knowledgebase articles and/or submit a support request for any questions related to using Slack for teaching and learning.

Related Resources