Other means of remote communication with students

Helmut Neukirchen, 15. March 2020

Discussion forum: Piazza

Most Computer Science teachers uses since years the discussion forum Piazza.com that is tailored for university courses. Students can ask there, e.g. anonymously to lower the bar, questions concerning lectures, assignments, organisational issues, etc..

Instant messenger: Riot

For your PhD students, you may want to have a means of remote communication between email and phone: a chat/instant messenger.

  • If you are fine with awkward to use software and have money (or your institution used tax money to pay), you can use Microsoft teams,
    • Caveat: Microsoft, one of the biggest cloud computing providers on Earth, cannot deal with increased load due to COVID: check status
    • If you just need the chat and all your team members have anyway access, it is fastest to use Microsoft Team for this.
  • if you sold your soul (and data) to, e.g. Facebook, you can of course use their messengers.
  • if you like easy to use software and have money, you can use Slack,
  • if you like easy to use software and are convinced that free and open-source software is better, you use Riot: https://riot.im. Riot runs in the browser and has mobile apps.

As with all instant messengers: disable instant notifications -- they distract too much. Instead look only after messages when you do a break/switch between tasks. If your PhD students have something really urgent (the lab is on fire), they can still call you.