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I feel a little unproductive in managing students as their advisor. I have both undergrads and graduate students, and especially with undergrads, it's hard to make them respect scheduled updates.

Right now, I am using online tools to track their progress (on GitHub), but communication is lacking. I hate using email for these regular updates, since many of them even take two days to a week (sometimes more!) to check their email account (using University's address), moreover, it would be probably cluttering my inbox.

What tools or communication services can I use to manage several students, communicating with them in a timely manner?

Thanks for any suggestions.

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    Maybe Slack? But I worry about how much you may be pestering your students if you are following their work via Git, I'd be put off by the big brotherishness. (using git is one thing; using it to 'spy' is another) – Bryan Krause Jan 24 at 6:52
  • I am not spying, they are using git with GitHub (they are free to use even cards/issue, whatever they need without any requirements beyond the repo), but I would like to have a weekly report from all of them (asymptotically)... maybe I'm wrong but I wouldn't qualify a weekly report as pestering. – senseiwa Jan 24 at 6:57
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    Can you have a weekly scheduled in-person meeting? I agree a weekly update is reasonable. I do wonder if you might be too demanding though and your students are avoiding you because of it; I usually hear about the opposite problem: students who are trying to contact their advisors and not able to. – Bryan Krause Jan 24 at 7:01
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    I have seen many methods used, and none of them were great. Have you tried weekly group meetings? Have each student report their progress for the week and problems for the upcoming week. I doubt you will find an excellent answer to your problem because each student is different. – Anonymous Physicist Jan 24 at 9:30
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I institute a lot of different things, but in my personal experience, the best thing is face-to-face meetings. Weekly meetings with the individuals, to talk about the problem and issues they may have with it. If it's undergraduates that are less committed to you you can settle for every other week. Things get lost in digital communication, and your students will feel a lot less comfortable with having nothing to discuss week after week. I find services like GitHub/Dropbox/Sourcetree to be the most effective, but people have their own pet software that they're used to. I suggest emphasizing personal interaction above all!

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    I agree with most of this answer, but I often find that undergrads need more meetings with me than grad students and postdocs do. – Andreas Blass Jan 25 at 1:38
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You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink...

You can use a multitude of systems to provide files / problems / updates, but you can’t make them log in... unless they want to - I find activities linked to grades get more attention than activities not graded...

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