Mattermost Instructor Guide

Mattermost Logo

Mattermost is a chat tool that facilitates real-time and asynchronous communication and collaboration. Your class can chat publicly or privately with each other and in groups, share files, and tag messages for easier searching later. An open-source tool hosted by UBC, Mattermost securely combines the real-time and asynchronous conversations, meaning instant messages and threaded discussions can coexist in one, “anytime”, privacy-compliant communication environment.

Cost Partial Departments provide funding per teaching team member
Bandwidth Yes Low
Canvas Integration No Works outside of Canvas
Privacy Yes Mattermost is FIPPA compliant and data is stored securely in Canada
Similar UBC-Supported Tools Microsoft Teams is another chat and collaboration option

What can I use it for?

You can use Mattermost for a variety of activities:

  • Collaborating in an organizable online space with a class and/or group
  • Enabling synchronous chat among yourself, your teaching assistants, and your students
  • Creating areas called channels for discussing specific topics, questions, assignments, and projects
  • Sharing information and files

What to know about Mattermost

A Mattermost formal pilot took place during the 2017/18 academic year. After the pilot concluded, the LT Hub gathered feedback from instructors, teaching assistants, and students to evaluate the tool’s perceived strengths and weaknesses. The evaluation led to recommendations for how Mattermost could best be implemented to maximize benefits and minimize shortcomings as a pedagogical tool, most of which have been incorporated into this guide.

You are welcome to review the summary of Mattermost’s pilot evaluation outcomes or read the full Mattermost evaluation report for more information.

This tool guide is for version 5.37.0 of Mattermost. Information and instructions may differ slightly for other versions of Mattermost.

What do I need to use Mattermost?

Funding for Mattermost

Note first there is a cost associated with using Mattermost at UBC. The cost is charged per staff user per year, where a staff user is any instructor, teaching assistant, support staff, or other UBC employee who will use Mattermost. Please check with your Instructional Support Unit to see if funding is available for your department or faculty.

Once staff-based funding is secured, an unlimited number of student users may be added to Mattermost at no extra cost.

A supported web browser

Mattermost has a browser-based interface and supports using Microsoft Edge or the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Mattermost will not work with Internet Explorer.

A Mattermost account

Active UBC employees should not need to do anything additional to get access to Mattermost. You should automatically be able to log in using your UBC CWL (Campus-Wide Login). After you log in once, an active Mattermost account will be associated with your CWL.

A Mattermost team

A team refers to a specific group of people in Mattermost who want to collaborate together. Each team gets access to a private virtual space where members can interact and share content. Teams must be requested through us at the LT Hub, as outlined in the instructions below.

Tips

    • Some departments may ask you for a budget to fund your Mattermost teaching team (i.e., the cost for you, your co-instructors, and teaching assistants). You are welcome to contact us to inquire about this estimated cost.
    • Mattermost also offers mobile and desktop applications to download for iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux. Check out how to install Mattermost apps from UBC’s Educational Technology Support for help.
    • Mattermost supports some older web browser versions and operating systems. Review Mattermost’s software and hardware requirements for more details.

How do I use Mattermost?

Once you’ve secured funding for Mattermost, you can request your course team and get started on collaborating.

Click any bar below for instructions and tips for using Mattermost.

Request a Mattermost team (aka set up a course)

A team refers to a specific group of people in Mattermost who want to collaborate together. Each team gets access to a private virtual space where members can interact and share content. To request a team (e.g., a course space), you will need to submit a form.

Mattermost teams can be created in one of two ways: as a credit course team (if you want it tied with a credit course) or as a self-enrolled team (if you don’t want it tied with a credit course).

These teams are linked to a credit course (or multiple courses cross-listed into one team). Students that enroll in the course are automatically added to the Mattermost team, and they can log in and access the team using their CWL.

  1. Sign in to UBC’s Mattermost at least once to ensure there is an active Mattermost account associated with your CWL.
  2. Access our LT Hub contact form and complete the following:
    • Select Mattermost as the “Support Requested”.
    • Under “New Mattermost Team”, click Yes.
    • Specify details about the credit course you want linked to your new Mattermost team in the text box under “How can we help you?”. Include course identifiers (i.e., course name, code, number, section, session, and/or term) and staff members who will be part of the Mattermost team (i.e., any instructor, TA, support staff, or other UBC employee).
    • Fill out the rest of the required fields, and click Submit.
  3. Once the Mattermost team is created, you will be notified by us through email.

Membership in these teams is managed independent of course registration. After creating the team, you will be provided with an enrollment link, which you can share with your team's participants for them to self-enroll. Anyone given the enrollment link will still need a CWL to access Mattermost.

  1. Sign in to UBC’s Mattermost at least once to ensure there is an active Mattermost account associated with your CWL.
  2. Access our LT Hub contact form and complete the following:
    • Select Mattermost as the “Support Requested”.
    • Under “New Mattermost Team”, click Yes.
    • Specify details about your new Mattermost team in the text box under “How can we help you?” Include the purpose of the Mattermost team and staff members who will be part of the Mattermost team (i.e., any instructor, TA, support staff, or other UBC employee).
    • Fill out the rest of the required fields, and click Submit.
  3. Once the Mattermost team is created, you will be notified by us through email. This email will include the enrollment link that you can share with your team’s participants.

Tips

  • Unlike many other informal messaging platforms, Mattermost is FIPPA compliant and centrally supported by UBC. Explaining this difference to your students can be helpful in educating them about the importance of privacy in online settings.
  • Add the link of your (credit course) Mattermost team to your Canvas course to make it feel like a cohesive part of your online environment.
  • All users will need a UBC CWL to access a UBC Mattermost team. If needed, you can sponsor an outside member for your team through a guest CWL account.
  • Additional teaching staff can be manually added to your team during the academic term, upon request. Please contact us for support.
  • Your (credit course) Mattermost team will be archived two months after your course’s end date. To request longer access to your team, contact us.

Organize your Mattermost team using channels

If you manage a UBC team (typically a course) in Mattermost, you will have the ability to create channels for the team to organize the content. Channels are themed areas for discussion, communication, and file-sharing that can be made public (anyone in your team can “join” the channel to participate) or private (participation is limited to invited members of the team).

Once channels are set up and students join them, everyone can begin interacting in real time or participate asynchronously as suits them.

Public channels can help in organizing team-wide conversations into topics or projects (e.g., assignments, exams, presentations). Anyone in your Mattermost team has the ability to join these channels and see and post content to them.

  1. Sign in to UBC’s Mattermost with your CWL and access your course team.
  2. To add a new public channel, click the + icon next to “Public Channels” in the sidebar navigation.
  3. Give the channel a descriptive name, purpose, and header to make it easier for students to understand what this channel should be used for.
  4. Click Create Channel to add the channel to the team.

Private channels can help in organizing your students for group work or to discuss topics that don’t call for the whole course’s participation. Only invited members of the private channel will be able to see and post content in them.

  1. Sign in to UBC’s Mattermost with your CWL and access your course team.
  2. To add a new private channel, click the + icon next to "Private Channels" in the sidebar navigation.
  3. Give the channel a descriptive name, purpose, and header to make it easier for its members to understand what this channel should be used for.
  4. Click Create Channel to add the channel to the team.
  5. Open the channel, and click Invite others to this private channel to select the members.
    • Try to avoid splitting students into groups of smaller than 10. This minimum increases the likelihood that each group will have varied participation from its members.
  6. Select all the members and click Add.

Tips

  • Mattermost's “Town Square” and “Off-Topic” channels are created by default and are meant for team-wide communication (e.g., asking and answering general questions) and humour/non-course-related conversations, respectively. You can rename or edit these channels’ purpose and header as needed.
  • You and your students can personally "favorite" Mattermost channels that you consider most relevant, to pin these to the top of your view of the team sidebar navigation. Open a channel and click the star icon to the left of the channel’s name to favorite it.
  • Label public channels to clearly indicate their purpose, e.g., announcements, specific topics, or projects in your course. Organizing your team’s conversations this way will make it easier for students to find information and engage meaningfully with the Mattermost space.
  • You can archive and unarchive Mattermost channels to organize and clean up your team’s sidebar navigation as the term progress. Archived channels cannot be viewed, shared, or searched.

Chat privately in Mattermost

Mattermost allows you to chat privately with individuals or groups of people in real time using what are called direct messages. Students can connect with each other and the instructional team to ask questions, seek clarification, collaborate, and build a virtual community.

  1. Sign in to UBC’s Mattermost with your CWL and access your course team.
  2. To start a new chat, click the + icon next to “Direct Messages” in the sidebar navigation.
  3. Enter a username, nickname, email, or full name in the search bar to find the person or people you want to privately chat with.
    • If you plan to converse with more than seven other people, use a private channel instead of a chat. A group chat under “Direct Messages” has a maximum of eight members, yourself included, whereas a private channel does not have this limitation.
  4. Once you’ve added all the names you want, click Go to launch the chat.
  5. Enter your text in the message bar, and use any of the additional options for chatting there:
    • File Sharing: Click the paperclip icon to upload a file.
    • Reactions: Click the emoji icon to send emojis or gifs.
  6. Press Enter to send the message.

Tips

  • Set explicit expectations around instructional team availability to help students identify how and when they can interact with instructors and teaching assistants in real time. When outside of real-time availability, indicate an estimate for the length of delay in response so everyone is on the same page.
  • Ask students to set up their full name in their profile to make it easier for others to find them and to send messages to them.
  • Click the top right corner of any direct message to reveal additional functions for messages such as options to react, save, reply, pin, and delete.
  • In the Mattermost mobile app, you can take pictures and directly upload them to your direct messages.
  • Private chatting is particularly beneficial for distance education courses, as it provides an important one-on-one communication point between you and your students, replicating the face-to-face interactions of in-person courses.

Where can I get more support with Mattermost?

Technical support

If you have trouble with Mattermost:

Learn more


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