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So I'm a little disappointed in the badge collecting secret mission game. I diligently collected badges yesterday. However, after the AM keynote, things have not been so hot. I was never able to get the badge for the keynote as the app kept timing out and crashing; I got several "we are sorry, there is a problem connecting to the server" errors.  Then, for the next several hours, every time I time I tried to look at the badges, it forced me to re-log in, confirm my email...then it would start the cycle over again... It is now letting me in again but since I missed the AM badge, I guess my identity has been compromised and I'm out. Good luck to remaining players! to try to watch each keynote in the room I want to go to the next breakout in so that I don't get turned away for the rooms being too full as I was all morning... 

Well...the technical glitches and issues of last year's conference are coming back to haunt us! ...but here are the notes I was able to procure before the mission failed....


Sheena Iyengar told us about the entrepreneurial mindset--that is being willing to take risks to make our lives better.


Choice--what are some things we do in our daily lives to get more out of this thing called choice

Brains of men (neurons in straight lines) v women (a web of neurons)

But in the end, there are only a few differences between men's and women's brains--we can all learn all skills.


1. Choice is a mindset--be willing to make the choices

 fixed mindset v. growth mindset

People with a growth mindset are better performers, more successful

Make goals for  1, 5, 10 years --write it down every 6 months  (with a plan for how to get there; be willing to share it with a trusted person)

Goal setting is positively correlated with innovation

Keep a 3 min progress journal daily: what did I accomplish? what did I learn? 


2. Set Goals--helps us make the best of our many choices a day/week etc.

We have way more choices than ever before--we need goals to guide our paths

We have 174 newspapers worth of info coming at us each day

The Jam study--tasting 6 v 24 flavors of jam

People were more likely to stop and taste when 24 but, 

People were more likely to buy when there were 6

So with too many choices we choose not to choose, make errors/incompetent, are less satisfied,

Our brains find 7 +/- 2 the magic number

9 min v. 1 hr decisions--make the most of your decisions so you have the right ones in the right categories


3.Be choosy about choosing

(and here the live feed in the room I was in cut out and no one from Canvas was in our room to fix it so we had a hard time getting it back up and had to hunt someone down. Turns out it may have been a problem everywhere. So no idea what happened after here…had to go into the main room to try to get the badge code at least. We stood awkwardly by the door, only to in the end have the app crash, and never give me or one of my coworkers the badge even though we tried to scan it 4 times....with it timing out each time)

I was here for InstCon 2016 and evening events were always outdoors, and always it rained. I was hoping that maybe this year there would be more coverings for the lot of us to eat in dry space and sit down.  Last night was a total disappointment.  Cold, wet, and nowhere to sit because the limited tent seating was full.  We found refuge under a building awning with some others and ate our now cold and wet food.  I did go on a tweet rant about it and specialty diets.


My mother eats a vegan diet. The reason we got the PRICEY guest pass was  I assumed she would have a special meal prepared - as I am used to seeing at other conferences, and we wouldn't have to worry about how to feed her.  Nope, she was told to just had to pick the veggies and hope for the best - oh, but we do have some weird bbq tofu.  This morning, had to ask for a vegan option and was presented with a tofu scramble, no toast, no non-pastry items, and peaches hard as baseballs.  


This maybe not the place to complain about the food, but my parents spent a lot of money for a guest pass because I was sure that would be the way I knew she could be fed while she was here because of her strict diet. She's not getting her money's worth, that's for sure.  If you're going to take the time to ask for dietary restrictions on registration, the effort should be made to make those meals and not make those folks have to hunt for food, ask around, wait around, etc.  I know she isn't the only person - I talked to someone this morning that didn't even know that's what he should do  (ask a Keystone employee for a vegan option).  


 If you're going to take the time to ask for dietary restrictions on registration, the effort should be made to make those meals and not make those folks have to hunt for food, ask around, wait around, etc.  I know she isn't the only person - I talked to someone this morning that didn't even know that's what he should do  (ask a Keystone employee for a vegan option)!


It's just disappointing, and while we've had fun on hikes, Canvas staff has been impressive at every turn, as the Keystone staff has as well.   This part of weather and dietary requirements will probably continue to be an issue.  

To keep the tradition alive (once something happens once, it is a tradition, right?) I'm going to attempt to blog all my notes from our secret mission here in Colorado. 


So below are my key take-aways from what Josh Coates told us. I found his keynote very inspiring. 


We all need reference points to walk in straight lines. For humans that is goals--makes ones that your 5-year-old self or 95-year-old self would approve of...if not, maybe not a good goal. (ie be successful at X)


So even with a reference point to success, can we ever make it in a straight line--no--we always have loops and circles on our paths to success. 


The road to success--there are no shortcuts (life is not like candyland) sometimes things do look worse in the morning and/or your way doesn’t always work better:

There aren't formulas or patterns to make life always successful

There isn’t a way to spend 30 years practicing the same day in our journey like Groundhog day.

There is some way to make $1mill in a day, but there isn’t a way to keep trying the same day.

Don't try to look for a blueprint/instructions. Wake up everyday and work hard etc--like a farm, you never know what will happen and sometimes the crops just fail.

"I followed the instructions and it didn’t work" sorry life isn’t like that--just work for the best and try again

At some level we want to be successful to inspire others--we likely won’t ever know who we inspire. 

4 people dressed up

Yeah, this happened! But...we'll get to that.


Where to start... I guess best to go in chronological order lest I talk myself, and you poor reader, in circles.


Canvas Intelligence Exchange

canvasintel17 Canvas Intelligence Exchange

The morning started off with a lovely brisk bike ride from my hideout down to a covert meeting location to...well... exchange intelligence. You can ride along with me in the video below if you're curious.

Shared album - Adam Williams - Google Photos 


I can't say enough about this event or the wonderful human beings that volunteered a TON of their time to organize it. Kona, Beth, Garth, Marc, Kenneth, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! You pulled off one heck of a mission here.  


Here's how it went as far as I recollect. First, we all loaded up on spy rations after arduous journeys from afar (see video above), while Agent Kenneth Rogers guarded the entrance.

coffee cups and snacks


Next, we received a briefing from Field Operations Commander, Agent Lentini. Then we grabbed copious amounts of sticky spy notes and our field issued tactical pens, and started encoding topics of conversation vital to our operations on said sticky spy notes.

people around tables


Agents Marc Lentini and Egbert rapidly decoded our messages in expert timing, organizing them in a scheme known only to the two of them. Agents dispersed to various sections of the meeting space according to interest in their operations. This is where the real intelligence was exchanged.


Course Design

I can only report back what I overheard from my table where I sat with agents from Iowa State, UPenn, Charlotte School District, Australia, Golden CO, Pendleton CA, and Tulane New Orleans. Agents from those organizations, feel free to identify yourselves but I shall not give up your names here (because I of course can't remember all of them and only managed to scribble down Amy, Karen, Becky, Kate, Jake, Colleen, Susan, and David in my notes).


We exchanged intel from the front lines of operations on the course design mission. Information and tactics were shared on Accessibility, Master Courses, Canvas Release: Blueprint Courses (2017-06-24), Canvas Commons, the myriad of objectives in the course design effort, and how best to organize agents within operational units to accomplish the mission of course design. Points of specific interest in my notes:

  1. Importance of the mission
  2. Complexity of the mission
  3. Necessity for diverse teams collaborating
  4. New tools and resources on the market
  5. Continued need for tool and resource refinement


After so much vigorous discussion, a break was required to prepare for our next exchange.

kona smiling


Managing 3rd Party Tools

In our second chance to exchange intel, I joined the group discussing Canvas Administration. Much to my delight, the topic of choice was one of special importance to my organization's operation, Management of 3rd Party Tools (Integrations, LTI's, etc).


These tools can be incredibly powerful, even mission-critical, but without proper inspection and training, these tools can also cripple or jeopardize even the strongest of organizations. Due to the difficulties of scale, larger organizations were more likely to have already experienced first hand the negative consequences and to have put in place some measure of protocol for how to mitigate the risk and ensure the tools were used strategically. Administrative guidelines for issuing Canvas Developer Keys was referenced as an example.


My big takeaway from this exchange was the similarity of the situation within each organization and the need for communication channels between organizations to share intel on protocol and successful tactics. I suggested the community as an option.


Love it or Hate It

In our last activity, agents were pitted against one another on various topics, and then forced to use their powers of persuasion to coerce fellow agents to their position. Everything from SpeedGrader to Canvas itself was posited. Agents put on an astonishing display of psychological warfare in this mental war game.


Agents left this event with their skills of conversation and collaboration honed to a razor sharp edge, voluminous amounts of notes to report back to their front lines, and connections with fellow agents they may never have met before. They are sure to perform well in the rigors of the week and beyond.


Just Lounging Around

After dispersing from our secret meeting location, I elected to spend some time in the Agent Lounges for the Canvas Community and The specified item was not found. to see what else I could teach or learn, my mind still running in overdrive from the intel exchange. After touching base with my community associates, I traveled across the conference center lawn to the Canvassador lounge (just next to the Google + Canvas tent). 


Here I met a special agent operating from deep within Canvas headquarters. His name was Chris Moore, and while I did not record in my notes his exact title, from reconnaissance I am able to ascertain he is involved with Global Content Marketing. What impressed me most about Chris was his language skills. I observed him conversing in at least two separate languages with agents from around the world who inquired about Canvas. See my tweet of the moment. I was able to capture this photograph of the moment as well.

Chris Moore speaking spanish


In general, I was able to converse with many agents on a myriad of topics, relay the nature of the Canvassador program to many, and even interest several agents in applying to join our ranks. I even had a little fun with a few of my known associates, Kona Jones and Kelley L. Meeusen.

3 people smiling 

After much lounging, I returned to my hideout to strategically repack my gear and obtain pizza rations in preparation for the remainder of the first day of InstructureCon 2017. Around this time the rumors of a special guest at our gathering began surfacing. She turned out to be a real gem (easter egg there for Renee and James Jones, let's see if they get it). It was also established that our fearless mascot had also made a triumphant return. More on him in a bit.


Keynote Time

Once properly re-equipped, I headed back out for the first of what will be several key briefings for the event. There's a lot that could be reported about this briefing, but perhaps it's best if you just review the intel on your own. I will say there was emotional warfare involved. Check your standard communication channels in the near future for the recording. Meanwhile, I'll just leave you with this. I call it, "Mitch on a Hitch." (Photo Cred: Jay Jackson Twitter: Mr_Jays_class)

man on a harness


Grub and a Reunion

After the keynote, all agents were encouraged to obtain free rations from the mess hall. I engaged with some unfamiliar agents at a table where we discussed the finer points of distance education, natural disasters and the logical conclusion that living by the ocean is insane (ok maybe that's just my opinion), and a young child's affinity for Sharknado 2. After finishing our meals, a special agent with a lovely accent was dispatched to inform us the evening's entertainment had been moved into covered facilities for strategic purposes. After giving her a jovial amount of grief, we dispersed and went our separate ways. On my way back indoors, I was reunited with a close friend of mine, and Canvas mascot, Agent Panda. He spread his arms in a wide embrace at my arrival of course.

man and giant inflatable panda


Old Friends and New Friends

Upon arrival at our covert indoor facilities, I was greeted by agents Ryan Seilhamer and Kori Schneider. After recounting the days events, we decided to head towards the entertainment. Fortunately for us, a rack of special agent disguises had been placed in our path, obviously purposefully to alert us to the importance of proceeding with the rest of the night's activities with our appearances properly masked. While reveling in the effectiveness of our disguises, we became acquainted with agent Evan Karagiannis from Sydney, Australia. He too, was in need of a disguise and we aided him as any agent would and should do in such a situation.

4 people dressed up


After obtaining our official agent headshots for our agent passports, we went our separate ways. Evan and I proceeded to agent game training and had great conversation and laughs along the way. He's an up and comer this Evan from Australia. Definitely an agent to keep your eyes on. He could totally be hiding a shotgun in that jacket too so I wouldn't front on him. I even got to meet an agent I had only admired from afar on the Twitters, and he was every bit the special agent I had hoped and expected. He travels the twitter by the handle of @eduridden but some of you may just know him as Julian.


And that's where the story ends for today (yesterday when you read this, and OK fine, technically it's yesterday/today right now for me too, but days are so illusory anyway). Looking back I'm leaving out a lot and still not sure how I managed to pack it all in, nor am I sure what I ever did before I became part of such an amazing community of positive, well-meaning, friendly people. We're all pretty lucky here.


A message to our friends who couldn't make it this year

You are missed but not gone or forgotten. Many of us are taking #stepsforbeth or connecting with our remote agent-friends in other ways. The magic of community is that our fellow agents are always with us in some way because the intelligence we exchange is a part of us and never completely fades away.

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.



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



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.



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.









It's no agency secret - I think the Canvas Intel Exchange is pretty awesome. When I was approached by "The" Kona Jones to help organize the event, I jumped at the opportunity. I'm not sure why she asked me, although I think it was my charmingly good looks, but it does go to show that you don't have to have a lot of Canvas knowledge to have a voice and drive change! (That's a topic for another day!).


What many people don't know is that there were many, many hours put into this event. The organizers - Kona Jones, Beth Crook, Garth Egbert, Marc Lentini, and myself - are spread out all across the country. We met virtually for the months and weeks leading up to canvasintel17 so that we could (hopefully) bring an amazingly collaborative event to the folks of this fine Community.


Now - enough back story. How did the morning go?


I am blown away by the people who showed up! Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to sit in on any of the conversations, so you will have to wait for those blogs to hit The Community. But the people! I had the privilege of manning the welcome/registration table and just the smiling faces of the people who had already registered, or the inquisitive eyes of the folks who just walked up asking "What's this about - and can I join you?" What started as 5 people spread across the United States, hoping to connect and learn from other Community members over a few hours turned into sixty-five people representing four countries (that I know of) and both Higher-Ed AND K12, in one spot, collaborating on all things Canvas! Does it get any better than that!?!


So, to those who came this morning - thank you! You made the Intel Exchange a success! For anyone unable to attend - watch for the blogs! We are encouraging everyone who attended to blog about what they learned - and I hope they do. Also check out the hash tag on twitter - #canvasintel17. Now - for the rest of InstructureCon 2017!

Michelle Meazell


Posted by Michelle Meazell Jul 25, 2017

After arriving on Monday, my secret agent Mom and I took to the trails and paths and have successfully gotten in about 40K worth of steps!  We have hiked along the Snake River and the roads both Monday and today - so beautiful and you just do not want to think about anything but the sound of the water.  

We just rented a couple of bikes and have been tooling around.


 Agent Squinty (not really)

Me, squinting 

The weather is perfect, though I'm nervous what may come in a few hours.  I have had a few sighting of people and even spotted one of the UK Agents being taken care of by the EMT's due to an allergic bug bite! I am too tired to tag right now, but will try to in another post!  Now, off to change socks and go on more adventures.. er training mission.

After a long day of travel to get to Keystone, getting through registration, and settling into my accommodations, it was great to run into familiar faces.  We gathered at Extreme Pizza by the lake to catch up and share a meal.


Great pizza, great people, what more can you ask for?  I'm looking forward to a great week at InstructureCon 2017





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

  • NAME: @rseilham
  • TITLE: Instructional Designer / Mobile Strategy
  • SCHOOL/ORGANIZATION: University of Central Florida (UCF)
  • # TIMES AT INSTCON: 2013-2016 (4 times)
  • SPECIAL CREDENTIALS: Canvas Coach, Canvassador


[FACT #1]

I've presented at every InstructureCon that I've attended. 


[FACT #2]

Like any good agent, I'm crazy about the details.


[FACT #3]

I start the Canvas Mobile Users Group Group in 2013. 



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

  • Not show him your Instagram Boomerang 
  • Ask him for something Super Panda
  • Give him a high five!



To be present at the following missions:


  1. Canvassadors Table: 2-4pm (Tuesday)
  2. Canvas Mobile: An App for Everyone: 
  3. The World is Not Enough - Without Mobile: 
  4. Introducing Canvas Teacher: The Next Step in Mobile: 
  5. Frequently Appearing at the Canvas Community Tent



You will frequently see Ryan create Canvas Mobile awesomeness with his co-admin of the Canvas Mobile Users Group Group Kristin Lundstrum. This year Ashley Salter will be joining him for his annual mobile briefing at Instcon 0017. 









OPERATION: P.A.N.D.A (Professional Advancement of Non-Descript Agents)


Recent intel has been revealed to allow for additional professional advancement during the upcoming gathering in Keystone, CO. According to the mission transmission: For Spies Like You—Mission: InstructureCon 0017 there will be opportunity for agents to advance in their clearance levels by utilizing a secret code system provided by an agent known only as The Badgr. There will be 25 "tasks" that once completed will move you one step close to becoming an elite Alpha Agent and my grant you access to exclusive gadgets.


The mission period is active for the duration of our gathering, July 25-27


Make sure to help out your fellow agents that may not have received this transmission and watch out for counter agents that may be looking to advance within our organization.




Operation Meet & Greet 
Interrogate as many unique assets as you can to earn your Clearance Level Beta badge or Level 10 CovertID status. Code-breaking may be involved. Special #CovertID swag for certain. 


CovertID Decal

Who: Instructional Designers

What: Networking event

When: Wednesday, July 26  7:45-8:45am

Where: Decatur Field Breakfast area

Why: #CovertID

How: Sponsored by iDesign   Dartmouth College

ID Meetup Graphic



Agent 1-Adam-12

Posted by awilliams Jul 15, 2017

[OPERATIVE] Agent 1-ADAM-12 

[Operative Bio]

  • ALIASES: "Adam," "Andy," "Andrew," (just about guy's name starting in "A" actually...)
  • NAME: Adam Williams
  • TITLE: Instructional Technology Specialist
  • ORGANIZATION: Coconino Community College
  • # TIMES AT INSTCON: 2 (2015, 2016)
  • Twitter: @theixle


[FACT #1]

Loves helping people.


[FACT #2]

Prone to connecting people and connecting with people.


[FACT #3]

Has been known to fall down rabbit holes and is notorious for forgetting names.



If you see this person over the time span of July 23 - July 25, agents are advised to...

  • Smile, wave, and/or crack a joke in his general direction
  • Ask him a question
  • Follow him. Even when he doesn't know where he's going he still manages to find good people.


InstructureCon 2015 - Evidence (Photos)

InstructureCon 2016 - Evidence (Photos) - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday



Canvas Coaches


Banner Image modified with permission from

Christopher Casey

Agent C^2

Posted by Christopher Casey Jul 14, 2017



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

  • NAMEChristopher Casey
  • TITLE: University Coordinator of Digital Education
  • SCHOOL/ORGANIZATION: University of Michigan-Dearborn
  • # TIMES AT INSTCON: 4 (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)


[FACT #1]

This agent loves permissions, and is looking for more fellow agents to convince superiors that more granularity in permissions is needed NOW!


[FACT #2]

This agent has intel not only on Canvas, but also some sister-agencies, like The specified item was not found. and The specified item was not found..



Agent may now have facial hair to try to remain incognito.



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

  • Approach slowly
  • State your name more than once (this agent does not easily remember names)
  • Ask a Canvas trivia question










Agents -


In a recent briefing attention was drawn to a need for those agents that may be further to the right of the Type A scale. The upcoming mission does seem to be daunting, but with the help of the attached dossier files, even the most novice agent should be able to navigate through the laser maze and make it to the end. While these gadget may help, somethings can only be accomplished by your keen mind. So take and share this recently declassified information to make the most of your coming mission. 


Instructurecon Schedule Overview w/ Maps *UPDATED 7/17/17 @ 3:20pm Central

Instructurecon Session Schedule w/ Maps *UPDATED 7/19/17 @ 12:50pm Central



As always, feel free to reach out to a fellow P.A.N.D.A.* community agent if you need further intel.


The Matt-Man


*Professional Agents Never Do Acronyms