Create a private Slack Workspace for your course with Canvas

Beginning March 26, 2021, instructors in most schools can create a Slack workspace that is limited to course membership. If you are familiar with Slack and think it could help your course, using the Canvas Slack tool to create a course workspace has several distinct advantages over requesting one through UIT if it is intended for the whole class. Here’s how you can add the Slack tool to your course.

Set up a Slack account (new users only)

Complete steps 1-4 described in How Do I Log Into Stanford Slack For The First Time?

Enable Slack tool in the Canvas course navigation

  1. In your Canvas course, click Settings > Navigation.
  2. Drag Slack up to enable it (if you do not see the Slack tool, it may not be available to your school).
  3. Save your changes and refresh your browser. The Slack tool will now appear to you and your students.

Create the workspace

  1. Click the Slack tool in your Canvas course.
  2. Click the Create Workspace button to create a workspace named after your course code, e.g. Su21-AAA-111-01 (If your staff has already created a workspace, click Join Workspace instead and skip to step 4).
  3. Your workspace has been created! All other members of your course will be prompted to Join workspace when they click the Slack tool in Canvas. Instructors, TA, Course Admins and Designers will join as owners, while students and waitlisted students will join as teammates. 
  4. Choose to launch the Slack Desktop App or Web App.
    launch slack in desktop or web app
  5. You should now be in the workspace’s #general channel and subsequently can visit the workspace directly from the Slack app of your choice, rather than from Canvas. Read on to learn more.
    slack default channels

Ask other course staff to help you

Your course workspace is unlisted at but is joinable via Canvas by those with the Teacher, TA, Course Admin, and Designer roles. They can now join your workspace from the Canvas Slack tool and will have ownership rights upon joining. They can help you customize the workspace and set up channels, which can be joinable or restricted to particular members (see below).

Change your workspace icon

The default workspace icon is the first letter of the term and first letter of your department. To help distinguish between multiple workspaces, customize this by clicking the name of your workspace > Settings & administration > Customize <name of your workspace> to upload a file.
settings & administration to customize icon

Create channels in your workspace

#general and #random are the only two channels everyone who joins the workspace becomes a member of by default, but typically, people create additional channels to have ongoing conversations on more specific topics. These can be private or free to join and by default, they can be created by any member. Instructors might create channels for individual assignments or sections, while students could create channels for project groups. 

Instructors using the Canvas Slack tool have two ways to create a channel

  • Roll over the Channels label to see the “+” button that allows you to add a new channel.add channels icon
    These channels are only owned by the person who created them. Unless you convert new channels to default channels before all students join, you will have to invite students to your channels each time.

  • Use CourseBot (see below) to create default channels that 
    • are automatically announced in the #general channel
    • all teaching staff automatically become owners of and 
    • can be used as templates of channels in future quarters. 

Creating channels in CourseBot

CourseBot is a Slack app that appears in Canvas-initiated workspace that allows creation of default channels. If you think you might reuse your channel names and settings in a future term (e.g. assignment channels), use CourseBot to set up default channels.

Find CourseBot home

  1. Click CourseBot under “Apps”.
    CourseBot under Apps
  2. You will be in the Messages tab from CourseBot.
    Messages tab in Slack screen
  3. Click Home (to the left of Messages).
    Home tab in slack screen

Create default course channels in CourseBot

  1. On the Home tab of CourseBot, click Create Default Course Channels.
    button to create default channels
  2. Name your course channel and click Submit.

    popup screen of default channel name and description
  3. Your new course channel shows in the CourseBot Home tab, where it can also be removed, and the left navigation of all owners in your course who have joined; if it doesn’t, use ⌘ R (Mac) or Ctrl R (Windows/Linux) to refresh your view.
    Newly created default-1 channel
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for additional default course channels. Note: you can create more default channels after students and other staff join, but they will need to click on the channel announcements that CourseBot makes in the #general channel before they are visible in their left navigation. 

Publish your Canvas course

While you can create a workspace without publishing your course, students won't be able to join your workspace unless you do so.

Invite others to join the workspace via Canvas

Now that the course is published, send enrolled students and waitlisted students instructions on how to join your workspace from Canvas. Your Slack workspace will be unlisted in the Stanford Slack directory for student privacy and anyone you might add directly via Slack will be removed if they don’t have an approved role in your Canvas course. 

Roles not listed above will not be able to join the course workspace. 

Workspace members may attempt to add others to the workspace from the Slack app, possibly even from outside your course, but these requests to join the workspace will need your approval. If you receive requests in the Slack app to approve someone’s membership, you should deny them; members of your course should be able to self-join your workspace via Canvas.

Archiving the workspace

While students can always leave your course workspace sooner, students will be removed automatically from these Canvas-initiated workspaces 180 days after the conclusion of the course (the term end date, if no custom course date entered). Students will lose access after the workspace is archived, but teaching team members will retain access. If you want to completely archive the workspace so that even you, the owner, no longer has access, please submit a help ticket to UIT Help.

Reuse course channel names in subsequent terms’ workspaces

  1. When you create a workspace in Canvas in a subsequent term of the same course (e.g. AAA-101-01), you will see a slightly different prompt: create slack workspace with default channels as options to select
  2. Check the boxes next to the channel names you wish to reuse in a future course. Channels with these names and settings will appear in the new quarter’s workspace. Content from the previous quarter’s workspace will not carry over.
  3. Click Create Workspace.
  4. Launch the Slack Desktop or Web app to view your newly created workspace. You will see the channel names from your previous course.