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InstructureCon 2017

4 Posts authored by: Kelley L. Meeusen Champion

I am home now, and will share my final thoughts; although, since this is a journey and not a destination, nothing is final.

 

Thursday, July 27:

I continued to follow my trend on Thursday and interacted with attendees all day and night, only attending three sessions - two keynotes, and our Community session late Thursday afternoon.  The keynote also continued a recent trend, and one I greatly appreciated, they were about people - our users, the broad focus and need for strong online pedagogy, how ed tech can and does improve access and so much more between the lines spoken - they were about people, they were about community! Our Community session was the same, and we provided the attendees a snapshot of a few of the people in our Canvas Community. We talked about who they were, what they contributed, and how they helped the entire Global Canvas Community! And that is what we truly are, a global community and that was brought home to me in a very poignant way as I was waiting to hop a shuttle to the evening festivities. As I stood there one of our Brazilian Canvassadors came running up and he said, "I have been looking for you, and I wanted to give you this just to say thank you for making me feel welcome!' The physical gift was trivial, except that its physical presence is a reminder of his gesture and the community that is Canvas and Instructure, and has now made it the best of the six years of swag accumulated by me! I might be a sentimental old fool, but he brought tears to my eyes, and he completed an epiphany that had been forming all week, and has been brewing in its developmental stages in my mind all these years.

 

The Epiphany:

 

I have been in elearning, online learning, digital learning (DL seems to be my new fav), distant learning (still relevant, as was well demonstrated  by the video of Pacific Islanders shared by Jared Stein during his afternoon keynote) a very long time. Long enough to remember the first true LMSs, and to have built a very primitive way to accomplish organization-wide instruction delivery using a network before then. For many of those years the discussions were almost always about the tech. Yes, we always talked about how the tech could change the world, and improve access to learning and provide new ways to deliver instruction, but the focus remained on the tech, and not the people impacted by the tech except for a few folks for whom the vision was always the users. And then came Canvas, created originally by two students dissatisfied by the user experiences in online education, and Josh Coates who shared their vision of an LMS focused on the user, and Instructure/Canvas was created.  I am not sure if I will ever be able to separate those two names again in my mind because combined they equal the global community of  builders and users who believe that technology and users cannot be considered separately.

 

Instructure, as an organization, is a collection of administrators, builders, and staff of various kinds (and I will just call them the "Builders") who form a community to develop and deliver educational technology that creates a global learning community. They are truly disrupting the educational technology industry in a way their competitors do not seem to get......

 

IT IS NOT ABOUT THE PRODUCT! It is about the product, the culture of the company that provides the product, and the community the company promotes for itself and its product's users. 

 

I said that Instructure is a community, because this is amply proven to me through every encounter with the Instructure team. From top to bottom each member of that team, despite their official titles, dons whatever hat is needed, whenever it is needed; and this is true both at InstCon and it's offices. And the company's community forms the core of the global community of it's builders and users. Nowhere does that become more apparent than at InstCon each year where they intimately interact with the user community in whatever way is needed to support the community and make it stronger.

 

So we have a global learning community centered on a product called Canvas, and the builders of that product continues to improve that product as a part of the community that uses it. Communities within communities! The communities of teachers and their students centered around a single teaching/learning moment in a single classroom who are part of a community of a school (or a business) using Canvas, who are part of a district or state community using Canvas, and where Canvas has spread to other countries they are forming communities of users, and all are contributing to that global community that is Canvas/Instructure.

 

And this, our official Canvas Community where both users and builders from all those other levels join to share what they know and what they need to make the global Canvas/Instructure community even greater! We, all 185,000 of us, are the representatives of that larger community.

 

Oh the humanity of it!

 

Can you envision a world where instructional technology and the users of that technology are almost indistinguishable? Where they contribute to a whole that is so much more than its parts? I can now!

 

At InstCon 2017 I gained some new technological awareness, skills and perspectives; but my sense of being part of something so much larger and more important grew beyond measure.

 

Agent K signing out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[SESSION NAME]

InstCon 0017

 

[NEED-TO-KNOW]

The major takeaways from this session were:

  • It is not all about the tech
  • Communities
  • Communities within communities

 

[ADDITIONAL INTEL]

For everyone I already knew and every new person I met, I say, "THANK YOU!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelley L. Meeusen

Agent K

Posted by Kelley L. Meeusen Champion Jul 27, 2017

Who I have encountered seems to have become even more important to me this year, than in any of my previous 5 InstCon gatherings, and than any presentations I have attended this year except maybe for the industry disrupting intel from Mitch Benson and Jason Sparks yesterday afternoon! But then, I attend fewer and fewer presentations every year. It is not that the presentations are not good, because they continue to address a broad spectrum of needs from K-12 to Higher Ed to the relatively new industry users, from established to emerging technologies, from new users to experienced to well seasoned old codgers, from teacher-centric to admin-centric; and with an even more balanced spread than ever before. No, it is simply that I seem to learn most from our users and their experiences in all those categories mentioned above. And perhaps my experiences in this truly awesome and powerful Community have changed my perspective to be more user-centric which so accurately describes the culture of Instructure and is the driving force behind Canvas!

 

I think what has most profoundly impacted me this year are our international folks I have encountered in my meanderings, and at every level - users (both teachers and admins), Canvassadors, and Instructure staff from seemingly across the globe! I know this is incomplete, because I have met so many new folks this year (the story and witness of Canvas' growth) I have met six folks from Brazil ,three of which are Canvasadors and who have shared that they traveled with a user from Peru. I have met English, German, Swedish, French and of course Australian members of our global community. Perhaps my most interesting and rewarding encounter was a nice long chat Tuesday with a Belgian who teaches at University in Vietnam, and that University is a branch from Australia! It does not get get more global than that, and surprisingly enough I met the Canvas admin last night from that main university in Australia! Why was my encounter with this young and enthusiastic Belgian so interesting, it is because he brought me a new question, a new challenged in making Canvas work for him and his courses - this is what those of us in this Community love most - a new challenge we can gnaw at until we find an answer, which is the other thing we love most in this Community - finding the answers!

 

It is because of the questions they bring and the solutions their questions generate, and exciting perspectives they share that has made meeting and talking with our growing international community  so important to me this year!

 

And yes, it has been so dang good to meet up with all my old friends (too numerous to mention), chatting with the always friendly Instructure staff - originals, long-standing and an incredible number of newbies (a shout out to Jason Sparks and Mitch McClain), my fellow Community Coaches and Managers, our CSMs both old and new, and of course the seemingly hundreds of new friends I have made this year.

 

It is you, our Canvas Community, that makes my InstCon the rewarding experience that I look most forward to every year and all year!

 

Now it is time to throw on more vintage swag and get ready for our final day,

 

Agent K signing out!

 

 

[INSERT PHOTO (optional)]

 

[OPERATIVE]

Here's what you need to know about this operative:

  • NAME: Kelley L. Meeusen
  • TITLE: I have to many, and that would just be bragging. Okay, let's face it I love to brag so here goes: Canvas Admin, eLearning Coordinator, Instructional Designer, online Teacher, Washington State eLearning Council member, Canvas Community Coach, Canvassador, and finally but not least - Curmudgeon!
  • SCHOOL/ORGANIZATION: Clover Park Technical College, Tacoma Community College, and Grays Harbor College
  • # TIMES AT INSTCON: 6

 

[FACT #1]

Walking, talking (OMG), living, breathing icebreaker!

 

[FACT #2]

Loud and often boring in his enthusiasm for all things Canvas and Instructure.

 

[FACT #3]

Old, so old/1

 

[SIGHTINGS]

If you see this person over the next few days, agents are advised to...

  • Insert hearing protection
  • Be prepared to miss your next appointment
  • Run!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Agent K reporting on his morning mission behind friendly lines. If this message is intercepted, may God have mercy on our souls, because this was an unsanctioned mission, and the office will disavow any knowledge of this covert action and any agents involved.

 

[SESSION NAME]

Intel Exchange, Tuesday, July 25, 2017, Lakeside Village. Specific locale and operators not cleared for disclosure.

 

[NEED-TO-KNOW]

The major takeaways from this session were:

  • Vast sums of useful intel can be obtained through the use of more moderate persuasion techniques such as: networking, friendly and disarmed casual chatter employed by seemingly friendly, persuasive, and non-threatening operatives.
  • A surprising number (63) of operatives from diverse locations and loyalties were willing to open up and share any information in their possession, despite the mild inducements noted above.
  • The level of engagement in ensuring information parity was amazing with many operatives committing to the full four hour exchange, even neglecting some of their other operational priorities.

 

[ADDITIONAL INTEL]

Many of us have long felt that simple networking had the best ROI when engaged in field actions such as InstCon. Today's session reaffirmed those perceptions, with at least one foreign agent disclaiming that his entire expenditure on the InstCon mission were amply covered by one stray bit of intel disclosed early in today's session.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelley L. Meeusen

Agent K

Posted by Kelley L. Meeusen Champion Jun 13, 2017

Mission Critical

 

For those of our allies not yet ready to commit to this very important mission, I cannot stress strongly enough the need for infiltration of our most highly skill operatives; agents, Agents-of-Influence, Birdwatchers, and even Ghouls to gather intelligence related to this InstCon ’17 operation!

 

We have a desperate and immediate need for HUMINT, SIGINT, MASINT, OSINT, PHOTINT, IMINT, ELINT, and COMINT, TECHINT.

 

While our new state leadership has greatly slashed our Company’s intelligence budget, we recognized the desperate need to send one lone field operative (likely a throwaway) on a timed drop to acquire the Take.

 

Translation………………

If you are still debating attending InstCon ’17, I cannot stress enough the value of this conference. If you can only afford one conference this year, make it this one! Despite my own school’s very serious budget crises, our President values this conference to such a degree that she has decided to send me for this sixth year in a row. As it looks, I may be the only out-of-state travel approved for 2017 – 2018 at our school.

 

Regardless of your elearning role: Admin, Faculty, Instructional Designer, LMS Support, K12  or HE you will gain knowledge and information that you can immediately put to use, and take back to your college. And please do remember to share when you get home.

If you are having trouble securing approval and funding, I have two suggestions. First, develop a plan for sharing lessons learn when you get home. Be specific, and search the agenda for most needful topics. Second, solicit other departments, programs, etc for sessions they would like you to attend to bring back specific useful information to. I have done both of these every year.

 

Finally, be prepared to have fun! While the educational and networking opportunities are amazing, Instructure recognizes that learning and fun are not mutually exclusive concepts, and they demonstrate that recognition in a grand way.

 

So put your shoe-phones and X-ray specs on, and meet me in Colorado!

 

 


 

[OPERATIVE]

Here's what you need to know about this operative:

  • NAME: Kelley L. Meeusen
  • TITLE: eLearning Coordinator
  • SCHOOL/ORGANIZATION: Clover Park Technical College
  • # TIMES AT INSTCON: 5

 

[FACT #1]

LMS Admin

 

[FACT #2]

Online Faculty

 

[FACT #3]

Higher Ed

 

[SIGHTINGS]

If you see this person over the next few days, agents are advised to...

  • Eliminate with extreme prejudice, or
  • Laugh uproariously, or
  • Don't make eye contact.