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How ASU Uses Slack to Engage & Support Students

By June 29, 2022

Recognized as the most innovative school in the country by US News & World Report, Arizona State University (ASU) is a leader in using technology to deliver top-notch college experiences and strong student outcomes. In recent years, Slack has become a vital tool in this mission. In fact, ASU is the first university to use Slack across the institution, supporting 150,000+ campus and online students. As they seek to continually find new ways to drive student success, ASU has been working with edtech experts, Robots & Pencils (a Slack and Partner), to develop solutions for student onboarding, community building, and real-time support.

Facilitating New Student Community & Success

Participating in onboarding — and having easy access to information and support — is vital to the success of newly admitted students. The start of classes (and the time leading up to it) is also when students begin to form connections to their peers and their institution. To build those connections and get acquainted with ASU, new ASU students are encouraged to join Devil2Devil (D2D), a private ASU network previously run through social media.

With Slack at their disposal, ASU saw an opportunity to strengthen the D2D community by moving it into Slack. The move to Slack sparked the creation of the D2DSidekick Slack app. Custom-built by Robots & Pencils, D2DSidekick welcomes students into the community, introduces available channels and features, and teaches best practices for using Slack — information that can be revisited any time the student needs it. Students are automatically connected in Slack channels with their peers based on their year, area of study, and campus location. 

“When I joined Devil2Devil, I was able to meet other future students from all over and it made it easier to talk about my college decision because everyone was going through the same thing,” said Nyeedra Blackelk Noel, an ASU student majoring in management. “Devil2Devil helped me join groups before even attending ASU and make friends who were living in my same residential hall.” 

Screenshot of D2DSidekick
 New ASU students are encouraged to join Devil2Devil (D2D), a private ASU network previously run through social media.

Since moving the community to Slack, the number of students participating in D2D has nearly doubled, growing from 8,000 to 15,000. In addition, D2DSidekick automates much of the work involved in managing the D2D network and onboarding new students, allowing staff to spend more time on providing student support. Where the onboarding process used to involve five different software products, everything now takes place completely in Slack. To ensure students receive targeted, important announcements, ASU employees also use D2DSidekick to easily message students based on student type, major, and other key demographics. 

In addition, community moderation has been simplified thanks to another Slack bot built by Robots & Pencils that lets users easily flag harmful language. When this occurs, an automated display of the issue is sent to a private channel containing the D2D moderators. Moderators review the language and act directly from their channel, including deleting the message if needed. In partnership with Slack’s ability to alert moderators to potentially harmful words and phrases, the flagbot interface allows ASU to quickly and effectively respond to statements that could make someone uncomfortable. Together, these features are crucial in maintaining a positive community for all students.

As new students go on to start classes and begin tackling coursework and group projects, these students have the advantage of already being familiar with using Slack. Whether they’re on campus, at home, or on the go, all ASU students have Slack at their fingertips, empowering them to collaborate in real-time with their peers and get immediate support from faculty and staff.

Check out A Digital Campus Tour with Arizona State University to learn more on how ASU is bringing their digital campus to life in Slack.

For more on how to make your institution future-ready, check out our digital playbook. And learn more about how ASU is innovating for learner and institution success. 

Interested in learning more about how Robots & Pencils helps institutions become future proof with Slack, Salesforce, and other digital technologies? Visit or email [email protected] to start a conversation! 

Ruby Ervin, Business Strategist & Product and Program Manager

About the Author

Ruby Ervin
Client Partner, Education at Robots & Pencils

A seasoned business strategist and product and program manager, Ruby excels at leveraging her expertise across verticals to increase organizational productivity and address the biggest problems standing in the way of business growth. 

In her role as client partner, Ruby partners with organizations to analyze their essential business architecture and design improved operating models, frameworks, and strategies that capitalize on previously unseen opportunities. Working alongside project managers, business analysts, QA team, and business and operational consultants, she provides our clients with prioritized action plans and roadmaps with the training and support they need to achieve their vision for the future.