Mattermost for Teaching and Learning

👋 I'm Ian Linkletter, I work in the Faculty of Education as a Learning Technology Specialist 👋

Follow along with my presentation:

UBC Faculty of Education Since 2011...

  • 1000 fully online course sections

  • Cohort-based Masters programs

  • Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education MOOC (30k students, 80% Canadian, 15% completion rate)

  • Bringing Mental Health to Schools self-paced course (2000+ registrants)

Join the conversation in Mattermost:

Follow along with my presentation:

What's Mattermost?

Mattermost is an open source communication tool that facilitates collaboration in a chat-type environment.

Does this look familiar?

(Slack + Mattermost)

  • Direct Messages

  • Online Status

  • Private Channels

  • Topic-Specific Channels
  • Public and Private
  • Anyone can create
  • Multiple teams are supported
  • Search
  • @ mentions
  • File/image upload
  • Typing status
  • Timestamps
  • Threads

+ Open Source

+ Hosted at UBC


FIPPA Compliant


Integrated with CWL


Students can design their own experience

What do we think of when we think of "chat"?

Group Activity

Chat is...

  • distracting or focused
  • interruptive or just-in-time
  • real-time or anytime
  • inclusive or intimidating
  • a rising flood or a flowing river
  • casual or intimate
  • meaningful or shallow
  • never-ending or always-there
  • Provide efficient and timely instructor-student communication option

  • Create opportunities for students to collaborate, provide encouragement, and support each other
  • Build and foster a sense of community

Used effectively, chat can:

All important! See Chickering and Gamson's

Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

Not "just chat"

  • Asynchronous and synchronous

  • Persistent history

  • Threaded replies

  • Mobile apps

  • Custom notifications

  • Extensible

  • emoji picker 😎

Master of Education (online)

  • Cohort-based
  • Average time to completion: ~3 years
  • Oriented to teaching professionals
  • Every spare minute counts

Online cohort shells

  • Building community
  • Status updates
  • Clarifying questions
  • Encouragement

Online course shells

  • Mattermost "as an option" didn't usually spark
  • Students use other platforms and those have inertia
  • Pilot evaluation gave insight

MET Social Laboratory

Current MET student created a forum for students and alumni to socialize and share ideas.

MET Social Laboratory

Who are we?

What are our shared concerns?

Can we together create a stronger network of teachers and education technology specialists?

Do we have information and experiences that others in our community might find valuable or interesting?

Do we have ideas of things we might create together or ways that we can improve our shared experience in MET?

Pilot Evaluation Report Made 7 Recommendations

How could Mattermost be implemented to maximize perceived benefits and mimimize perceived shortcomings? 

Recommendation #1

Set up for smaller groups of students at once

Starting students off in smaller groups may help reduce feelings of being left out or overwhelmed by a large number of posts. It could also help develop community and connection.

Recommendation #2

Organize content into clear channels and guide shared organization

Chat isn't intuitive to everyone. Some guidance about the purpose of each channel and which ones are most important to check is helpful. A "getting started" guide would also be beneficial.

Recommendation #3

Set expectations around instructional team availability

One of the most personalized ways people can engage with Mattermost is through notifications and apps. Everyone has a different preference - students should know whether to expect an answer in 2 minutes, 2 days, or longer. It's entirely up to you to decide this and communicate it.

Recommendation #4

Integrate or regularly prompt to promote use

The courses with the least activity were the ones where an instructor created the space without committing to using it. Students are sensitive to extra platforms (especially when they require another account) and quickly stop checking if they detect it is not a good use of time.

Recommendation #5

Set loose guidelines for student participation

Students didn't always know what was expected of them. Did they need to read every post? Was perfect grammar a requirement? Must they reply right away before a conversation changes course? Setting expectations (but being open to surprises) is a good idea.

Recommendation #6

Emphasize private communication options, especially for fully online

If the purpose of Mattermost is to enable students to contact their instructor privately, showing them how to do this and encouraging them to do it is important.

Recommendation #7

Explain why Mattermost over other more established chat tools

Students are already using chat. Whether it is Slack or WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, there is no shortage of options. This is an opportunity to have a conversation about how privacy and academic freedom are linked. Do we want to contribute to the feeling that Facebook is too important to delete?

How to request a team for teaching and learning

  • course teams automatically register students
  • non-credit teams also available

Over to you

How could chat be used to support teaching and learning?


Questions for me?

EOASC and Mattermost

By Ian Linkletter

EOASC and Mattermost

November 2018 presentation to the Distance Learning team in the Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric department in the Faculty of Science at UBC.

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