Submitted by Ian Linkletter, Learning Technology Specialist, UBC Faculty of Education | @Linkletter

What is it?

Mattermost is an open source team chat technology similar to Slack or Microsoft Teams. It is a communication and collaboration technology, combining threaded discussions with real-time chat in an intuitive and flexible way. Features like persistent history, advanced search capability, file sharing, typing status, mobile apps, and emoji reactions add up to a versatile tool that is still easy to use.

UBC’s instance is hosted securely in the Canadian Cloud using EduCloud and is FIPPA-compliant. Mattermost is free to use, but must be installed and configured on a server.

What can it do?

Mattermost supports real-time interaction between members of a team or course. It is equally capable of facilitating asynchronous conversation through the use of threads and a persistent history. I call this anytime communication: any time, any device.

In our experience, effective use of chat can:

  • Provide an 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

Mattermost has been implemented into fully online Masters cohorts and courses in the Faculty of Education at UBC. Students have reported feeling a stronger sense of connection with other students, and an immediacy to interactions with the instructors and TAs. These are important enhancements to the online learning experience of our students. You can read more about how Mattermost has been used at UBC on our website’s Mattermost Education Case Studies page.

The ability to host Mattermost at your own institution means it can be implemented in a FIPPA-compliant way. As with most iPhone and Android apps, push notifications go through the US, but can be configured to exclude the contents of an individual message. UBC has gone with this approach. It is also possible to compile custom Enterprise versions of the mobile apps with a self-hosted push notification service, which would allow for more detailed notifications.

Mattermost also supports imports from Slack. Slack is widespread at all our institutions but isn’t FIPPA-compliant and is limited to 10,000 messages on the free plan. The import feature provides a lifeline for people who have become reliant on team chat to do their jobs. I wrote a Slack to Mattermost Migration Guide for Education which could be used on a Mattermost server of your own to move off of Slack.

How does it work

The first step is to sign up for a Mattermost account on the server by following this link:

This will give you access to the OpenETC community along with many other members of ETUG.

Download the App

Once your account has been created, you can download desktop and mobile apps for Mattermost at the link below. The web interface is also responsive and works on any device. Enter as the server URL when you are prompted to do so. Push notifications are turned off on this server.

Extend your learning

UBC instructor and PhD Candidate Liam Doherty created an open source Mattermost user guide which can be adapted for any institution or course. This is a good way to familiarize yourself with the features and functionality.

Additionally, Mattermost will walk you through a brief tour/orientation when you sign in for the first time.

Using Mattermost in teaching and learning

You can learn more about how Mattermost was used on the Mattermost Education Case Studies page on our site. The Mattermost pilot evaluation at UBC gathered feedback from 200 students and 7 instructors. The evaluation report made 7 recommendations for “how Mattermost could best be implemented at UBC to maximize its perceived benefits and minimize its perceived shortcomings”.

Now let’s get more specific…

A short task – challenge yourself!

Let’s chat about how team chat could be used to enhance teaching and learning at our institutions.

  1. Join the Open ETC Mattermost community and jump right in. Don’t worry, the water’s fine.
  2. You’ll see the most current conversation. Feel free to continue it, reply to posts using threads, or share your own ideas.
    Continue a conversation with
    the reply button above a post
  3. Think about how team chat tools like Mattermost could be used to enhance teaching and learning in your context. Ready to share an idea? Write a message in the box at the bottom!
  4. As others share their ideas, you can use emoji to react! Use the thumbs-up emoji 👍 to “vote up” ideas you like. If you have more to contribute, just reply to the post.
    React to a post by clicking the
    emoji picker button above it
  5. Let’s go exploring! See you in the Open ETC Mattermost community.

Don’t forget to come back and add a comment below, write a blog post or share your results somewhere on social media. Use the hashtag: #12AppsBC

CC BY 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.