How to stay sane in online transition – Slack


By Salome Pachkoria, Anna Phillips and Jasmine Wang

Everyone agrees that communication has become even more important in this online transition. No longer can you simply run into your classmates on campus to agree on your next meeting for the group project – now, you have to communicate about it online! Did you know that a growing number of companies are using Slack as an alternative to emails to streamline this communication? 

Would you like to become a professional Slack user in 15 minutes or less?

Slack is a great communication tool that can be used by either a small group of coworkers or a big company. We at the META Lab use Slack, as does CTEC, so if you work there now or plan to work at any of the amazing offices at MIIS implementing this program, it would be very beneficial for you to learn more about it. Also, fun fact: more than 100,000 companies around the world use Slack, so understanding it could be advantageous for you after graduation!

Take a look at a great short video introducing Slack

Below are some useful functions in Slack that you might want to know how to use to streamline your work and improve your productivity: 

  • Do you have important messages that you would like to be able to reference easily? Worry not, Slack has got you covered with the “Pin Messages” option. 
  • How to set up shared channels (a function for companies) 
  • Searching for a certain message has never been easier. Do you want to filter your search results? That’s easy as well! 
  • Quick navigation is one of the nicest features of Slack. You can customize shortcuts to your liking! 
  • There are a lot of ways to customize the sidebar to fit your needs! 
  • Want to make sure you have everything under control? Set up reminders!  
  • Set up new feeds of your favorite blogs to make sure you won’t miss anything! 
  • Slack is not only an alternative for email but for video conferencing tools as well! Need to have a virtual meeting? It is easily done with Slack! 

Customizing your Slack video goes over some other ways you can customize your Slack space, including other tools you can integrate into Slack. Some examples are given, but there are many more – including many of the ones we discussed in previous blog posts!

How to stay sane in online transition – Zoom


By Salome Pachkoria and Anna Phillips 

Have you counted how many times you have heard the word “Zoom” over the last month? Too many to count? This is why, for our first blog post, we have decided to give you a quick introduction to Zoom in the form of links to short (1-4 minutes) videos!

Just one thing – what even IS Zoom? Zoom is a video-conferencing software that allows individuals and groups to meet and work together productively. As Zoom is going to become our new best friend this semester, let’s explore what fun features are available!

To start, we’d like to highlight a few functions we discovered in Zoom that we thought would be incredibly useful for faculty and students alike. They are as follows:

  1. Break-out groups on Zoom:

This impressive feature makes it possible to have in-class group discussions. The host can assign co-hosts and decide the number of rooms as well as members of each breakout room. The host can join any breakout room, and broadcast messages to everyone. 

  1. Screen sharing options:

This is very helpful for anyone who wants to do a presentation, or actively show a step-by-step process to others in the call. There are different screen sharing options including sharing a specified screen, a certain file, and more! 

  1. Recording:

This can be a very useful feature, especially since recordings can be directly uploaded to the cloud for sharing purposes.

Here are some other really important (and fun!) things you can do in Zoom:

  • There is a chat room available for every Zoom meeting. Make sure you can use it if necessary – for example, if you don’t want to interrupt a lecture but need to ask a question. 
  • Make sure that you use the Mute/Unmute function properly. (It’s a good idea to put your audio on mute when you are not talking, if you think there might be some ambient noise that will disrupt your classes/meetings).  
  • Here is a video on how to join Zoom meetings (this way you aren’t late due to “technical difficulties”)
  • Here is how you can schedule a meeting
  • Some META Lab GAs have been having fun with Virtual Backgrounds! Try it! 
  • In this 10-minute video, you will see many different ways to customize a meeting so it is exactly how you want it!  
  • Syncing Zoom with your calendar might be helpful. (That way you are not watching Netflix while you are supposed to be in class or a meeting!)

By the way, many of the features mentioned above require use of the desktop app. Downloading it is super easy – go to the download center, download Zoom Client for Meeting, and install it. This will also give you the ability to customize your preferences (for example, you can make sure that for every meeting you join, you will be joining with muted audio and no video). So, go ahead and download the app so you can start playing with all the fun things we showed you above! 
We understand that some people aren’t as enthused by video instructions. Here’s an article that goes over many of the same things