Last year I attended my first InstructureCon, and attended the pre-conference workshops. Having been on the Canvas platform for only a year it was good to get more familiar with how things work. Coming from a non-edu background it was also a good chance for me to get up to speed on some vocabulary and get more familiar with the language of education.
This year my goal was a little different. Two years into my Canvas experience, I am very interested in what other people and other institutions are doing. What's working for them? Where are they having trouble? What apps are they using? My goal this year was to talk to people and listen to what's going on outside of my "bubble".
Through the grape vine I heard that Kona was organizing an unofficial pre-conference networking event where people could discuss what was on their minds. This was exactly what I was looking for, and I was immediately interested. Kona put together a group consisting of Kona Jones, Marc Lentini, Beth Crook, Kenneth Rogers and myself to help pull this off. The end result was exactly what I was looking for.
There are some key reasons why I found this event important:
- Meet like minded people who are using the Canvas platform. Having contacts out there in the Canvas world gives you another useful resource for brainstorming or troubleshooting, people to share your thoughts with, a sounding board.
- Get a perspective, other than my own, to stimulate out-of-the-box thinking. If I'm having a problem, is someone else having that same problem? What are they doing to work around or solve that issue? Or maybe I have something that's working for me that I can share. Getting a glimpse of what's happening at other institutions is very valuable, sometimes validating the efforts that you are making so you know you aren't crazy
- Mental warm up for the conference, by sharing ideas and talking through different scenarios it helps to gather your thoughts about what it is you want to get out of the conference. Work can get in the way, how many people really had time to "think" about the presentations, and carefully choose their schedule before coming to the conference? I hope everyone did, but the CIE event was a good way to help choose those sessions and get the most out of the conference.
I have since learned about the "un-conference", which took place at the end of the week. Last year I was unaware of this event, and will try to plan my time for it next year. However, I feel that having this type of discussion up front is a great primer for the conference, helping me to get my focus and mindset for the week.
To those who made this event possible, thank you. I hope we can pull it off again next year.
For all of those who attended, thank you for your participation and for sharing your information.