Moving to Slack Roadblock

So i’ve been working on getting Slack unblocked by the school’s IT. We’ve had email conversations about it.

The help desk is not willing to unblock Slack due to CIPA:

"Chat and Social media are not allowed per standardized content filtering policy. This ensures compliance with CIPA."

But are willing to if we (Me and club advisor) deem it is essential to the educational mission of the district.

I currently have a ‘resources’ channel for anything I find useful, and/or helpful related to FRC so others on the team can learn outside of hours.

Has anyone ever had this kind of problem? How did you resolve it?
I’m thinking of adding the help desk and/or administration to the channels to moderate. Which case, Slack would need to be unblocked.

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It seems easy enough, just “deem it is essential to the educational mission of the district” in some way or another.

EDIT: Tech support or admin moderating chat channels full of edgy robotics teens is inadvisable, imo. Great way to have a few kids get in trouble for no real reason.

Yes, it is preeetty easy to say it’s essential to robotics education as there is the resources channel… But the district? And then getting the entire team to just be on Slack. (they weren’t willing to move from messenger even though Slack clearly is the better of the two)

i mean… students probably won’t be using it as much, because there are only 3 people who actually have signed up for Slack out of 15.

If slack is essential to robotics, and robotics is essential to the educational mission of the district, then slack is essential to the district. Also, just use whatever messaging system the students want to use unless it poses specific problems. For resources, make a google doc and share it with everyone via a google group.

EDIT: If students wont be using it much, cant you just use it over mobile data?

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Our school has a similar policy… we just don’t use Slack. We keep everything in the school-provided gmail accounts and team drives. It means a LOT of email (I end up with about 1000 email threads per year), but complies with school policy. At events, the students set up an un-official GroupMe to keep in touch.

For your “resources” channel… We essentially have folders in our Team Drive for stuff like that. I can drop in PDF’s or PPTs, add links to a general resources doc, and everyone on the team can access it. We actually have 3 different Team Drives, one with only mentor access (we keep things like notes on Dean’s List or student lead selection, plus financial reimbursement stuff that the students don’t need to see), one for captains (They do a few things that the rest of the team doesn’t need access to, but there’s not terribly much in there), and one for the whole team.

If only 3/15 are on board with it… might be worth exploring other solutions that could get more traction!

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the main problem we’ve encountered with messenger is, a super clouded group chat.
Not everyone is online chatting at the same time. A notification goes out, people start asking questions, 10 minutes pass… and someone who doesnt read anything will ask a question that has already been answered. Which, cannot be combined with putting out resources because (for a fact) no one will look for them.

They won’t download it for a mobile app, they’ve already ruled it to be unimportant irrelevant when they haven’t used it…

The school… does not/ would do minimum effort to support the robotics club. (We aren’t a good team thebluealliance.com/team/1665/history)

I do have a plan… Make another messenger group, totaling 3 (one includes past alumni and helpers, one is just the current team (which gets updated constantly with members), and another for resources. I (think) there’s going to be a huge backfire on making a 3rd mostly because it pretty much clouds up personal facebook. To which my reply would be if we use slack, that group can be taken down.

Not to mention, we do have a couple kids on the team that do not have facebook, and their parents are not willing to consent.

We have a Slack use policy at the end of our team handbook that might be relevant to your CIPA problems. So, privacy, record retention, and unacceptable use. We pay for Slack, which lets the team “owner” export all of the workplace data, including private messages. I’m aware of a team that doesn’t pay for Slack, so they’re only able to export only public channel content, but their workaround is to crack down on private messages based on the Slack usage statistics.

Oh, and we require all our students to use Slack, because it’s our main method of communication. One of the steps to making the final roster is having a Slack account.

Based on your own description of the problem, this won’t be solved by going to Slack. If no one is reading the existing online, chat-based resources, I’m not sure what switching to a different online, chat-based application will do.

Similarly, if the existing messenger groups aren’t being read (and can’t be accessed by everyone based on your later comment), then when exploring other solutions I would consider looking into solutions beyond what’s currently not working.

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You may already know this, but you can use Facebook Messenger without having a Facebook profile. I got rid of my profile in 2016 but still use Messenger for team related communications. I’ve also had a couple team members just create a messenger account without creating a profile.

Slack isn’t blocked by our district (one of the few apps it doesn’t block).
Twitch is blocked by our district. We are a Local Kickoff location for the first time in 2020, and need a hardwire connection for Twitch. I started getting approval for the exception 4 months ago. I had to provide the district with FIRST’s specifications. I communicated with the Superintendent of Secondary Schools before I got any traction with my request (he had been our principal just a year before and a huge advocate for the team). We finally got it approved for my school last week (specifically, teachers in my school).
Lesson Learned: Unless you have an administrator or DO personnel in your corner, I doubt that it will get any support for your request - especially if your district offers an alternative solution.

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Gettting a Slack account is part of the process of becoming a member of our team. Of the 45 members, about 20 read the posts on a daily basis with about 10-15 contributors to any single channel.
You will need to make Slack (or your app of choice) part of the team’s conversation.
Unless the program/app is valued, it will wither and die (just call me Capt Obvious).

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For my team, Slack has been essential for a public-facing communication platform between students, mentors, parents, and the teachers. This is particularly notable at events - team-wide broadcasts are much easier to manage via a chat platform than an email. So perhaps you could take that route with IT. Email just doesn’t cut it for “need first aid to the trailer”, when that gets clobbered by “lunch is ready” and “programmers to the pits please” since it’s all in one email folder.

I do not recommend adding admin into the Slack. However, you can address administrative concerns in a different way than most any other platform. Where Slack helps protect youth that other means (email, GChat, Discord, Apple nonsense, etc) don’t is that the workspace owner can request a formal audit of the conversations which have happened and the channels in which they have happened. This allows administration to investigate bullying, inappropriate youth-adult contact, etc.

Similar to what @AJohnson342 said, I would recommend that students and (interested) parents join Slack as part of team membership.

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We can’t really do that as the team “voted” (voted without any prior use of slack) on messenger vs slack (ppl can use both or just one but they must be on one of them), so my mentor kinda went with it.

Usually they go on and see a chat thats not related to robotics and they think whats been happening for the (however long a roast/meme/random chat can go on) and think it has nothing to do with robotics, when really it was clouded by random chats.

If we qualify for the 501c3 upgrade (which i would have to ask) would it export all including private (messages, channels)?

We did have 2-3 students who went this route using a mobile phone number but when their parents found out, they were not happy.

Hmm. Twitch isn’t blocked on the robotics desktop (even ChiefDelphi isn’t)… but slack is…
And i can access reddit occasionally too.

What do you mean? The robotics program?

To anyone else who thought the same:
i was thinking of adding them as full members to only the public channels. They can’t see that there are private ones. If we get an upgrade, they could be guests.

i think i’ve read about this somewhere… does this mean that any plan (or only paid versions) can request a chat history from Slack and they will send it? Then the owner forwards it to the school administration?

Slack for Nonprofits

Pricing Guide

On the Standard plan you can only export public messages. On Plus, you can do the full export.

You were discussing Slack. That was the program/app to which was I referring.

I don’t understand. Did your team decide to use Slack, or not? If it is the app of choice, then you should be able to require the membership to use it.

We have a special channel for memes and miscellaneous comments. We strictly refuse and will delete roasts. There’s too fine of a line between a roast and bullying.

We are currently using both Slack and Messenger, with more of the population using messenger (because A) slack is blocked B) it was always messenger C) there are very few people who want the change)

working on it… When slack is unblocked, i feel like there is a stronger reason over messenger. What really gets me is the unwillingness to even try out a new thing.

I have created a “random” channel for whatever chats but with only 3/15 students, nothing happens there.

I feel your frustration.

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Honestly, get the students to download a free VPN on their phones.

that has a likelihood of a virus?
And honestly, it isn’t about being able to access Slack or not on phones, but more of through the school issued laptops, off of the school’s wifi.

Would anyone suggest talking about this to the superintendent of the district?