Skip navigation
All Places > InstructureCon > InstructureCon 2018 > Blog > Author: Laura Gibbs
1 2 3 Previous Next

InstructureCon 2018

45 Posts authored by: Laura Gibbs
Laura Gibbs

30. Thirty Blog Posts!

Posted by Laura Gibbs Sep 2, 2018

Okay, this is a meta-post: it is post number 30 in my series of 30 InstructureCon blog posts. Whoo-hoo! I've been tagged them as #InstCon30, but they are out of order there now that I updated all my posts that made reference to sessions with video, so to wrap things up for this post, I've made a quick list of all 30 posts below.


And I'll close with one last HUGE THANK YOU to everybody who made it possible for me to attend InstructureCon this year. I had such a great time and I learned so much. Plus you know I will be very much involved next year as a remote participant, eager to keep on learning. :-)


  1. Hats Are Good. This is all about my helicopter hat.
  2. All the Feels. I met so many people in person at last, including people I have known for YEARS online but had never met in person before now.
  3. I am TPACK. Something very cool that I learned about for the first time, thanks to Mathieu Plourde.
  4. Inspired by Earl. Getting to know Earl Sallade over lunch.
  5. The Canvas Past. My take on the opening keynote by Josh Coates.
  6. Give Me Bananas! The fabulous Game Night on Tuesday.
  7. Meeting Devlin Daley. I had no idea I would get to meet Devlin Daley: but I did! I share some thoughts about open Canvas courses here too. :-)
  8. The Wifi Gremlin. The Panda Drone did not operate as expected.
  9. OER and TIME. This was a wonderful presentation on OER development.
  10. Searching for Search. Khaki global search, which I asked about here, also morphed into an investigation of search at Canvas Commons.
  11. Fun with Polling. I really liked the way so many of the session presenters used interactive polling!
  12. Blog On, Everybody! In which I get to meet Guy Saward who came all the way from the U.K., along with some thoughts about blogging.
  13. Our Coach Kona. Kona's presentation on student-centered design was so inspiring!
  14. Go, Broward County! I was amazed at what Broward County was able to accomplish by using Canvas to do PD for both instructional AND non-instructional staff.
  15. RATS: Strong RATS. This was Matthew Jennings's presentation on team-based learning. And I won a prize!
  16. The Wednesday Keynotes. If you haven't seen the Larch Correctional Center video that Jared Stein shared as part of his keynote, please take a few minutes to watch (I embedded that video right here in the blog post).
  17. Local and Global. Twitter makes it possible to participate remotely... around the world. I had fun sharing my InstCon experiences with my Twitter network.
  18. Michael Bonner's Magic. Michael Bonner gave a great keynote, and I am very exited about our upcoming Bonner Book Club!
  19. Embed Magician Extraordinaire. Be sure to watch this video to see Sean Nufer work his magic; he used a Canvas course to do his presentation, not slides; very cool!
  20. Linda, Blueprint Goddess! If you are thinking about using Blueprint Courses, check out Linda's presentation about the many advantages Blueprint can offer.
  21. The UnConference: Outstanding! This was my favorite part of the conference. :-)
  22. Ted, UX Wizard. Those of us who attended the UnConference also got a crash course in user experience research from Ted Boren.
  23. Hawksey's #InstCon Widget!!! Adam Williams set up a TAGS archive for #InstCon and now that archive can become a live widget too.
  24. Embedding InstCon Videos. The videos are released, and I learned how to embed them in Canvas Pages.
  25. Michelle and @ONE. The videos allowed me to catch up with a presentation I was really sorry to have missed: the California community college Online Network of Educators, as presented by Michelle Pacansky-Brock.
  26. Clowns and Cannonballs. I had so much fun at the carnival on the last night.
  27. Conference "Beginner's Mind." Some things I learned as an InstCon newbie.
  28. Some InstructureCon Feedback. Some ideas I wanted to share as InstructureCon 2019 starts to take shape.
  29. My Video Gallery. This blog post explains how I set up a gallery of videos in Canvas Pages, linked back to my blog posts.
  30. Thirty Blog Posts! You are reading the last one right here right now. :-)
Laura Gibbs

29. My Video Gallery

Posted by Laura Gibbs Sep 2, 2018

I was really happy to learn that I can embed the InstructureCon videos in Canvas Pages (details about that), and so what I did was to create a Canvas Page at my InstCon site for each video I had mentioned in a blog post here: My Embedded Video Gallery. Then, I went through my blog posts here and put a link to the Video Page at the top of each post. So, now it is all linked: the pages at my InstCon site link to the blog posts, and the blog posts link to the Video Pages. Yay!


People had told me that it would be about a month or so before the video were available, which is how I embarked on this "30 Days of InstructureCon" blog post series, as a way to tide me over until the videos came out. Now the videos are out, and I have everything all embedded and linked up. :-)


And thanks again to the Instructure crew who did such a fantastic job of editing these videos. The way that we can see both the presenters and the slides makes the videos incredibly valuable, and I hope every one of the videos will find a large viewing audience!


Here's the list of presentations that I have written about in my blog posts here at the Community:


Broward County video plus blog post
Engineering Leadership video plus blog post
Jared Stein video plus blog post
Josh Coates video plus blog post
Kona Jones video plus blog post
Linda Jean Lee video plus blog post
Matthew Jennings video plus blog post
Michelle Pacansky-Brock video plus blog post
Mollye Russell video plus blog post
Sean Nufer video plus blog post


screenshot of Kona Jones video embedded

Here's another wrapping-up post to end this series (just two more to go after this one), and what I wanted to write about here is some suggestions that I would have to share back with the great people who are on the team that organized InstructureCon. Feedback is my mantra this year, after all! I know it is a monumental event, and it's trying to accomplish lots of goals all at once. Here are some ideas I would put on the table based coming from my own perspective, and maybe others have ideas they would want to share also.


1. Collect Twitter handles during registration. As I mentioned in a previous post, it would be really helpful to have a more representative Twitter list of InstructureCon attendees. By working hard on creating a list, I ended up with a couple hundred Twitter handles, but out of the huge number of people attending InstructureCon, I know that was only a tiny sample. It would be really helpful in my opinion if people could submit Twitter handles when they register, knowing that they might be included in an InstructureCon Twitter list. That way people could opt-in or out as they prefer; I'm guessing a lot of people would opt in. The Twitter handles could also be printed on the badges/booklets, so that when you are taking a picture of someone's badge name (as I saw many people doing), their Twitter handle would be right there too, assuming they opted in.


2. Allow for "remote participants" to register for the conference. Adam Williams and the other Community managers did such a great job of trying to promote the remote experience, and I think that would be even more powerful if you let people register as "remote participants" at no cost during the registration process. Maybe you could send them a page of stickers or something as their conference swag! That wouldn't cost a lot, and I am guessing it would build enormous good will along with providing a stronger foundation for helping people to have a good remote experience. There are all kinds of reasons why people cannot attend InstructureCon, and finding a way to share the goodness with that big group of people is really important IMO. My guess is that in the long run it would actually boost InstructureCon attendance if people felt involved remotely in the years that they are not able to attend. Is there any reason not to offer some kind of free "remote participant" registration option? Honestly, I cannot think of any reason not to do it, and there appear to be a lot of potential advantages!


3. Bigger fonts for names on badge/booklet. Yes, this is a small thing, but it was actually a big deal for me. As a very nearsighted person (even with my glasses, my vision is really poor), it would be great if the fonts on the badges could be as big as possible. The bigger, the better! And even for people who are not as nearsighted as me, having super-big fonts would allow people to be able to read names at a greater distance too. First name on one line, last name on another line: that would allow for the names to be bigger and easier to read at a distance. (On this year's badge, first and last names were printed on the same line, and the font size was not really big, just the same size more or less as the "Carnival Pass" phrase that also appeared on the badge.)


4. Breakfast/lunch/snack options nearer to the session venues. Keystone was really challenging that way, and I'm guessing that maybe it will be easier to come up with a variety of ways to do the food at the new venue for 2019. Again, just speaking for myself, I was glad that I brought some peanuts and such with home to carry with me since I found myself missing out on breakfast/lunch most of the time. The way we had catered breakfast and lunch for the UnConference was really nice; that was the only day where I ended up having both breakfast and lunch because the food was just right there.


5. Coping with overflow sessions. I always scrambled to get to sessions as early as possible (which meant I often ducked out of prior sessions early) because I had been warned in advance of the need to get to sessions early to secure a seat. I heard from people at the conference and I also saw at Twitter that there were sessions where people were turned away because there was no room, and in at least two of the sessions I attended, someone came in and had to tell people sitting on the floor that they were not allowed to sit on the floor because of fire regulations (which is totally understandable, of course, but standing up for a whole session is also no fun). I don't know what kinds of options the new venue will provide, but if there is a way to see when a session is overflowing and on the fly find a way to transmit the audio/video feed being collected somewhere that people could watch, that sure would be great. I don't know how feasible that is, but I felt really badly to think that people had come all that way and paid all that money but were not able to attend the sessions they were most interested in.


So, those are the main ideas that I had! Now that I think about it, I don't remember getting any kind of a survey or feedback form from Instructure. Was there some kind of effort like that to collect feedback? I might have missed it; the month of August was pretty hectic. Anyway, those are the ideas I would have shared, and if other people have ideas they want to add here in the comments, please chime in!


And in the spirit of feedback, here's one of my feedback cats. :-)


Cat walking down the road: Feedback helps you see the road ahead.

Feedback helps you see the road ahead.

As I get ready to wrap up this series of blog posts about InstructureCon, I thought I would write something here about "beginner's mind" and the mistakes / lessons learned for me. I met so many people who come to InstructureCon repeatedly, but it was definitely a first for me, and I don't have a lot of other conference experience either, so I was very much a beginner. By sheer luck I happened to do some things that worked out really well; other things I realized I should have done differently. Probably the most important thing, though, is all the lessons I learned on the ground that will help me be a better remote participant next year, since it's unlikely I would be able to attend InstructureCon again (simply because of the costs; if it were not so expensive I would be there next year for sure). Having seen what it is really like on the ground, now I will do an even better job of figuring out ways to participate remotely.


Here are three things that I lucked into that were really helpful:


1. Preparation. I did a lot of preparation that helped me be people-aware, like the big Twitter list I made of presenters and attendees plus remote participants who signed up also. That was such a big help in terms of knowing who to look for! I am sure there were still a lot of people I could/should have met, but the logistics of the conference were not the best for being able to meet people in a purposeful way unless they were actually presenting. So, I'm guessing there are maybe other things I should have done to have made more connections at the conference, but the preliminary work paid off. I wish the conference program made all that easier, so that if people wanted to share their Twitter handles, for example, they could do that, and there could be a REALLY big list of all the attendees who shared their Twitter handle as part of the registration process. Also, having created a Canvas course space to keep track of my stuff was also really helpful, and I definitely plan on reviving that space for next year's InstructureCon as a remote participant. 


2. The Hat. It might sound silly, but that hat was incredibly useful both as a way to identify me for anyone who was trying to find me, and also as an all-purpose conversation starter, not just with InstructureCon attendees, but even with random people I met like the bus drivers, etc. Any kind of silly hat would work, but the fact that the beanie was connected with the idea of being the "Panda Drone" worked out even better; it was not just a random conversation starter, but one with a purpose behind it.


3. Follow-up Blogging. I am really glad I decided to do this series of follow-up blog posts. I did not take into account just how hectic things would get with having to go to Austin and the start of school, etc., so I probably should have done 2 posts a day for 15 days instead of trying to do 1 post a day for 30 days -- because, obviously, that didn't work out; it is now September and I am still wrapping up the last posts, ha ha. Here are all the posts.


And here are three lessons learned:


1. Write Things Down. I repeat: WRITE THINGS DOWN. I was just kidding myself to have said, "Oh, I'll remember that." Even as the words came out of my mouth, there was a little voice inside my head saying, "No you won't! You better write it down!" But I didn't and, as a result, there are people's names and cool ideas that I really wanted to remember from the conference that I have now forgotten because I didn't write it down at the time. Just like with school: you can sit there listening to a lecture and think you are going to remember stuff... but you don't. I should have gotten a ballpoint pen to wear around my neck just like the little InstCon booklet we wore so that I could have written more things down right in the moment.


2. Get More Sleep. I felt really obliged to attend every single breakout session in my role as Panda Drone, but if I had not felt obliged, I would have watched the morning keynotes streaming in my condo, and then leisurely have made my way to the conference during the first break-out session. At the few conferences I have been to previously, there were not all these great evening events, so I could just go to bed early... but at InstructureCon, there were great evening events every single evening, and by the time I got to Friday, I was really exhausted. I'm someone who wants/needs eight hours of sleep each night and I ended up seriously sleep-deprived by the end. I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on any of those evening events (Game Night! Street Fair! Carnival! they were fantastic), and, since the breakout sessions are recorded, I would have been glad to have gotten some extra sleep by arriving to the conference center later each morning and caught up on the sessions I missed when the videos came out later.


3. Take More Pictures. I only got my first smartphone recently (I simply never needed one until my dad got sick, and I had to start texting to communicate with all his caregivers who prefer texting as the best way to stay in touch), so I'm still really not very good at even using my phone, and I'm not used to taking pictures while things are happening. I snagged a lot of great pictures that people shared at Twitter, but I wish that I had taken more pictures of my own too.


And I have to say: THANK YOU to all the people who shared great pictures. There are some people who really know how to take beautiful pictures with just their phones. If you have some images you want to share that are saved on your phones, there's an InstructureCon 2018 Image Gallery space right here at the Community where you can upload for posterity!


Here's a sweet panda shot from Paul:


panda in mountains



A picture from  Dave Hooker who was a morning yoga-goer:


Keystone sunrise



A lovely shot from Gannon Nordberg:


Keystone creek



And a sunset carnival picture from the CanvasLMS Twitter:


carnival sunset



Now that we know InstructureCon has outgrown Keystone and is moving to a more traditional conference venue, I feel so lucky that I got to attend an event in Keystone, and with such a wonderful carnival theme! I enjoyed it all so much, with so many great memories ... some things you remember even without writing them down thank goodness! :-)

I've kind-of sort-of been writing the blog posts in order of events, and since I am getting to the end of my 30-blog-post plan, I want to write about the ending event of InstructureCon/InstructureCarn: the carnival itself! It really was a carnival, with rides and food and everything.


I loved it all, especially the performance by the acrobats. That was one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen in person, and thanks to a tip from  Biray Seitz , I got myself a seat right up front, in the second row. The whole performance was fabulous; there were acrobats and jugglers, and also a clown who was so sweet and charming; I'm not even a fan of clowns usually, but this guy was great: his moves, his music, it all was so funny in a way that made you just relax and feel good... which was important as a calm-down interlude between the acrobatics which made me literally hold my breath, especially the acrobat at the end who was performing on impossible stacks of rolling tubes that went higher and higher and higher until I couldn't even believe it anymore... but it was REAL, and I was there. It was incredible! Does anybody know the name of this troupe? I would love to link to their website here if anybody from Instructure has that information.  They came out and posed for pictures at the end of the performance, so here is a picture that I took:


screenshot of acrobat troupe


I remember during last year's InstructureCon when Credence Clearwater was playing, and I was listening to someone sharing the music remotely just using their phone as I was sitting on my couch at home; even my husband wanted to listen -- he couldn't believe it was CCR for real. Attending InstructureCon this year, I was thinking there would be cool stuff, but that nothing could top something like hearing Credence Clearwater in person... but these acrobats managed to hit the top for me. It was unforgettable, especially the juggler who was on next-to-last before the acrobat who was performing on the rolling tower of tubes. There was just something about that juggler who had me completely mesmerized, and I was thinking, what an incredible skill he has: he could be transported back in time to any culture in any era, and he would dazzle them with what he is able to do. He could probably be transported to alien civilizations on other planets and amaze them with his performance. It was spectacular.


I also have to include here the HUMAN CANNONBALL, which was also unforgettable. When I first showed up at the carnival, I couldn't help but notice the cannon: it was huge! And I asked an older gentleman who was setting it up if they were really going to shoot someone out of the cannon, and he said yes. So I did most of my wandering on that side of the carnival field, knowing that I didn't want to miss this; I had seen Bugs Bunny and other cartoon characters getting shot out of cannons in cartoons... but a real person? in real life? As it turned out, I was standing with Sean Nufer right next to the net where he came down. It really was incredible to watch, and people captured it on video with their phones, like this video from Michelle Lebsock at Twitter -- I can't embed a Twitter video, but just click on the link to see the video at Twitter.


screenshot of tweet


When I went to write my "introduction post" for my class, this semester it was really cool to be able to include InstructureCon as a what-I-did-this-summer item, and I was able to embed that cannonball video in the blog post, yay! Because I enrolled myself as a student in the class (more about my #TotalCoLearner experiment), that means a lot of students will be reading my introduction post as the semester goes along (the students are all reading each other's introduction posts at random all semester long), so I hope that will add a fun new dimension to their perception of Canvas, and also inspire them to share their thoughts about Canvas with me over the course of the semester, knowing that I really am excited about what Canvas has brought to our school and how important it is to me as a teacher... and as a carnival-goer!

Laura Gibbs

25. Michelle and @ONE

Posted by Laura Gibbs Sep 1, 2018

You can see the embedded video here: Michelle Pacansky-Brock


* I'm typing the word on-line with a hyphen for reasons having to do with a tech problem at this platform; I know it looks weird, but otherwise the word disappears.


Now that I have figured out how to make use of the InstructureCon videos by embedding them in Canvas Pages (details), I wanted to share Michelle Pacansky-Brock's session, which is one I did not get to attend. Watching it via the video worked great! I am so impressed at how the video shows both Michelle speaking and also the media she used (slides, plus some video), and Michelle did a great job of repeating the questions at the end since the one thing the mic could not pick up was the audience questions. So, what I did was to make a Canvas Page with her video, and I'll include my main takeaways here in my blog post, just like I did for the sessions that I attended.


Here is the video Page I made, with my notes down below:

Video: Michelle Pacansky-Brock: InstCon Remote Control 


screenshot of MPB video


Both for those who were there and missed sessions (schedule conflicts, full rooms), and for those who were not able to attend, I highly recommend watching the videos, and maybe you will even want to share your thoughts in some Canvas Pages (here's how to embed) and/or Community blog posts of your own. :-)


Taming the Lion:
Innovative Practices for Supporting Canvas at a Large Scale


You can find the slides and other materials for this presentation at a site that Michelle created: 

#INSTCON 18: Taming the Lion 


We are on-line twins. I've often joked about Michelle and I being on-line twins who were separated a birth, and it really is true in so many ways: watching her introduction at opening of the video, I learned that she started teaching in 1999, which is the same for me, and we both fell madly in love with on-line teaching. Both of us decided to share all we were learning in the open, using all kinds of tools over the years, and that sharing is central to our learning, and it led to amazing things for both of us (the whole reason I ended up going to InstructureCon this year was because of a blog post I wrote and shared in Michelle's Reflective Writing Club this winter; details). "Sharing is central to my learning," she says, and now she is bringing the power of sharing to 60,000 faculty and 30,000 admins and staff in the California community college system. WOW.


California systems. After listening to this video I think I am finally starting to understand how the California system works. Michelle use to work at one of the CSUs (Channel Islands), and I know other people in the CSU system, and I also have on-line friends in the CCC, California community college system. Now Michelle is heading up this @ONE On-line Network of Educators which is a project of the community college system, which is in turn connected to the OEI, On-line Education Initiative. Sharing everything is very much the mantra of what they are doing, and their enormous range of professional development opportunities are available to all (not just people in California) at low or no cost. I also learned that there are 114 community colleges in California (wow!) and now that the community colleges can choose Canvas (I think at no local cost?), all but one of those schools is using Canvas, so that is 113 campuses on Canvas that Michelle is working with: wow again! That is why Canvas is very much at the heart of the work they are doing as part of both @ONE and the OEI. And across all those schools, Michelle is working with 90,000 faculty, staff, and admins: wow yet again! In the spirit of sharing, much of the @ONE content is Creative-Commons-licensed, and that CC-licensing is actually part of the condition of their state funding. What a great model for other states to follow!


Networking. That is a huge number of schools and people, but in many ways they are not well connected. Michelle made a Game-of-Thrones comparison, with the colleges as castles, built with features that isolate them from one another. Yet given limited resources, they just cannot afford to have people working alone, reinventing their wheels, spending precious time and energy recreating resources that already exist (even if not actually warring with one another like the houses in Game of Thrones, ha ha). There is also a culture of scarcity, along with the fear that things diminish in value by being shared, as if that makes them less special or precious. Yet at the same time, faculty seeing other faculty actually using technology is often the key to adoption and growth. We have to find ways to encourage and support people in sharing their work, and that is exactly what Michelle is trying to do, and with 60,000 faculty, they need to find on-line solutions; f2f just won't have the reach. That's how we get to the N for networking in @ONE: On-line Network of Educators, a network for sharing and free or low-cost PD, by educators for educators.

@ONE On-line Network of Educators


@ONE offerings. Michelle went into lots of details about all the webinars, "Bite-Sized Canvas," YouTube channel and on and on: so much great stuff! They offer courses for people to take in Canvas, which has the added benefit of them experiencing Canvas from the student point of view and with dedicated facilitators who actively care about their learning. There is also a Course Design Academy for the OEI / peer review of on-line course development. At the heart of all of this is a blog which has social networking features (in the past, the website had been very static). Michelle explained the different ways she helps faculty become active contributors to the blog, either by writing guests posts or by participating in video sessions that get shared via the blog as well as at YouTube. We got some behind-the-scenes information about how Michelle manages the blog and also her content development flow, how she helps faculty with the blog editing and with the video editing (all of which might be something very new to them). It all sounds really great! Here is the blog:

@ONE Blog

And here's a screenshot of what just happens to be there at the moment; I love the term "autocurate" that Michelle used to describe the way she uses the power of blog categories to manage the blog site navigation and to help users browse the content while making it easy for Michelle to keep adding new content to the blog all the time:


screenshot of @ONE blog


OEI rubrics. Michelle also gave us a quick tour of some of the features of the rubrics used for on-line course development in the OEI initiative. This is something I know about indirectly from friends I know who teach on-line in the CCC system, so it was really helpful for me to hear about it from the system-level perspective. The idea is that there are all kinds of successful design approaches, so the rubric is not meant to constrain development or even push it in one direction, and that's why they have been reluctant to present anything labeled as a "sample" course. That has made me really curious to investigate the rubric and see how they have designed it to promote this open-ended philosophy. I also really like the fact that they treat all faculty as designers; there are very instructional designers in the CCC system, so it really is up to the faculty to learn about design and find the design approaches that will work best for them. As a faculty member who does all my own design, I can really appreciate that approach; the most important things I learn about instructional design are what I learn every single day as I watch my students working their way through a course.


I would really encourage people to watch the full video if you want to learn about this extremely proactive and supportive faculty development process, and also if you are curious to learn about all the great work that is going on in support of on-line education in California higher ed. And don't forget that Michelle has shared all the support materials in a website too! Yay!


Video: Michelle Pacansky-Brock


#INSTCON 18: Taming the Lion website with slides 


screenshot of MPB website



(testing the word  to see if the gremlin is gobbling it... that is a real problem for this post because "" also appears in some of the URLs: fingers crossed -- maybe the gremlin will leave this post alone!)

(argh: this is one of the posts that the gremlin is editing; that's why the word  appears as on-line, and I will have to use a URL shortener for all the links that have "on-line" in the URL... this is just so weird, Stefanie Sanders! but at least I know to be on gremlin-defense ha ha)

I took some time this morning to play with the InstructureCon videos which you can find here: 


What I learned today is that, glory hallelujah, you can embed the videos in a Canvas Page (even if you cannot embed them here at the Community), so here at last is the promised video from the ladies of Broward County, complete with the cute graphics and music from their presentation as promised. We couldn't hear the music during the presentation, but it was captured for the video! I've embedded the video in a Canvas Page at my InstructureCon archive:

Video: Broward County: InstCon Remote Control 


video in Canvas page screenshot


I snagged the embed code, and then tweaked it a little bit, switching the width from 400 to 600, and the height from 225 to 340. (If you want more tips on embedding in Canvas, check out Sean Nufer's presentation of course!)


There are lots of good reasons to embed videos like this. For example, it gives you a better URL to work with (you can link directly to a video at the Instructure site but the video is very slow to load that way). It also allows you to add context to the video, like the way I provided a link here to my blog post about this presentation and, if I didn't already have a blog post, I could include my notes right here in the Canvas Page.


And here's another unusual benefit... you avoid the awful pop-up if you watch the video embedded somewhere else. I am definitely not a fan of the pop-up challenge you get at the Instructure video gallery, where a form comes up that challenges you for a whole laundry list of information, including your phone number, interrupting the video at the 30-second mark and not letting you proceed until you fill out the form. And you have to fill out every single field to proceed, including the phone number.


screenshot of popup

I personally do not want to fill out that form, and it makes me reluctant to share the videos with others because I do not think anybody should have to supply all that information just to watch a video. Phone numbers, in particular, are private IMO, yet the form requires you to enter a phone number to watch a video. It's really annoying (I would never even think of entering my real phone number there), and it seems to serve no purpose at all. Surely they are not going to actually call people...?


Thanks to the power of embedding, though, I can just embed any video I want to share in a new Canvas Page, and people can watch it... and also see how easy it is to work with videos inside Canvas! So, if you are interested in what the wonderful ladies from Broward County presented, you can watch that video here in an open Canvas Page, inside a Canvas course space where you will find other InstCon materials and resources:

Video: Broward County: InstCon Remote Control 


And kudos to the Broward County graphic designer who created all those carnival animations: it was fun to get to see them again, and this time with the music! And kudos also to the video editing team at Instructure: the way they combined the speaker footage and the presentation media is really impressive and makes the videos a really great resource to use and share.

screenshot of Canvas Page with video


Pinging Stephen Simpson and Bobby Pedersen because I know they were interested in this presentation. :-)

I learned something AMAZING today at Twitter, which was a cause of much rejoicing (and for Kristin Lundstrum too!): the ever-generous and ever-ingenious Martin Hawksey has added an embeddable widget to his array of TAGS tools for working with Twitter hashtags. 


You can see it in action on the front page of my InstructureCon Canvas site: better late than never! Just think about how great that will be for next year!

InstCon Remote Control


#InstCon hashtag widget in Canvas course screenshot


Thanks to the great job Adam Williams did in creating our #InstCon archive (searchable!), it took just a few minutes to create and embed this widget. It's exactly like embedding a regular Twitter widget, except that you use Martin's  form (instead of The 1-2-3 steps to embedding a Twitter widget in Canvas are explained here at Twitter4Canvas. And now that hashtag widgets are back in action (thanks to Martin!), I will update that site this weekend with more information and tips.


And Kristin already has a #GetUpOrGiveUp widget ready to go for our Michael Bonner reading group which starts soon! More about that group here:

Reading Group: Get Up or Give Up 


Sneak peek in the Canvas course she built for the group:


screenshot of Michael Bonner widget in Canvas



It was such a blow when Twitter eliminated their support for hashtag widgets this summer... but now Martin has given us something even better because this widget exists in the ecosystem of TAGS where there is so much we can do and learn about our hashtagged content. THANK YOU, MARTIN!!!!! You made my day today!!!!!


cat bump: you're awesome!

(Purr Partners)

Laura Gibbs

22. Ted, UX Wizard

Posted by Laura Gibbs Aug 24, 2018

We don't have a video for this one, but Ted has shared his slides!

As I mentioned in my previous post on the UnConference, while Kona and her helpers were arranging all the post-it notes into sessions, we got a crash course in "user experience" from Ted Boren ("Senior UX Researcher at Instructure" says his tagline here), and it was fabulous! Very detailed, very informative, and something that even people like me who don't know anything about UX research could follow along.


I don't know if Ted has shared his slides here somewhere or not (???), but I hope he will: the slides were very detailed, and they also contained references for people who wanted to follow up and learn more.


I also totally vote that Ted do this presentation as one of the regular sessions at InstructureCon next year! That way it will be part of the regular program and leave a video trail behind (since this unofficial "session" was part of the UnConference, it's not in the video gallery of the regular conference sessions).


I should also add that Ted was one of the Instructure employees I kept running into again and again during InstCon. I met him at the very start of the day on Tuesday when he was recruiting UX research volunteers and we struck up a conversation while he was waiting for a Bridge session to let out. That's how I found out he was an English major in college, so of course we could bond about writing and creativity (yay!). The next time I ran into him I think was when he was doing "crosswalk duty" over by the big tent -- and that was something I thought was so cool about the conference; there were Instructure employees everywhere doing all kinds of helpful things (crosswalk duty, driving the golf carts, etc.), and you could always tell who they were because of their T-shirts.


So by the time we got to Friday, I knew who Ted was and I was excited about getting to learn more about his work! I had thought it was going to be just a quickie few minutes, but it was a full-blown presentation with slides and everything, a bonus session for all of us who had come to the UnConference! I took this picture:


Ted Boren at InstCon


The part of Ted's presentation that I appreciated most was the kind of anthropological field study work that some UX researchers do: it's not all just about clicks and time-spent-on-page, but actually observing -- closely observing! -- what people are doing when they interact with a website. As Ted pointed out, even self-reporting cannot take the place of observation because often people are not accurate self-reporters since observing yourself is actually pretty hard to do. Being able to observe what people are doing while they work, sitting side by side with them, and also to ask questions while sitting with them, sounds like such a rich field of investigation, and it overlaps powerfully with what teachers do (or should do IMO) in order to help their students.


And on that theme of observation and just being with our students, I want to mention an amazing new book that just came out this summer by one of my teacher heroes, Ira Socol, and his colleagues Pam Moran and Chad Ratliff: 

Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools


Timeless Learning book cover


You can see that word "observation" is right there in the title, and one of the most important themes in the book is of observing children at work and at play, in formal learning situations and in informal learning situations, so that we can build our practice on the basis of those observations.


Just to take one example, Ira mentions his practice of observing students' feet while they are sitting in the classroom:

During a classroom walkthrough, Ira says, "I videotape kids' feet. That's what I always look at. Kids keep their upper bodies compliant. Their feet tell you what they're doing, whether they're asleep, or just totally panicking. If you look at their feet, you get this whole different perspective on how they are doing in class. Principals walk and when they do observations, they look at the teachers mostly. That's completely wrong."

Just from that one anecdote, I think there is a lot that we can all learn, about teaching, about observation, about data, etc.


One of the reasons that I use a blog network for my classes, with every assignment leaving a digital trail in the blogs (or at their websites), is to that I can get a glimpse into their thinking. The blog posts and comments are all open-ended (unlike a quiz or test), so with each sentence in each post or comment, I am able to learn something about each student. It's not the same as being able to sit with them side-by-side and talk with them one-on-one, but then you do not usually get a lot of side-by-side one-on-one time with students in a classroom, especially not in a 150 minutes per week college classroom. Teaching  this way, I feel like I can observe my students more and spend more time with them one-on-one in our blog network than I ever could in a traditional classroom (although I sure would have enjoyed teaching in the very non-traditional classrooms of Ira's school, where on any given day a student might be sawing a classroom chair in half to make a seat for a go-cart...).


You too can take a peek if you want into our blog network; it's all open and full of inspiring stuff I think: Myth blogs and India blogs. There are around 400 posts so far, and more to come this weekend; the last three assignments of the Orientation week are a chance for me to get the students' reactions to how the class is going so far and to learn more about their own goals so that I can focus my work with them based on that knowledge.


That theme of "observation" is just one way where I see our work as teachers intersecting in powerful ways with the kind of work that Ted does with UX research for Instructure, and I am really glad that his talk was part of our UnConference experience. Thank you, Ted! And any time you want to share some of your projects or thoughts here at the Community, I know you would have many eager readers, me among them. :-)

So I got out of synch here when I saw the video had been made available, but they are still putting the finishing touches on that (just speaking for myself, I hope they will disable the popup that asks for personal info like phone number to watch the videos)... anyway, I will cycle back around to the breakout sessions when the video gallery is done.


Today, it is my pleasure to write about something that was not videotaped, but which was my favorite part of the entire time in Keystone: THE UNCONFERENCE. It happened on Friday morning, after the "official" end of the conference.

Kona Jones organizes this (thank you, Kona!!!!!!!!), and she wrote some earlier posts here at the Community that explain the goals and process:

What is an Unconference? 

Why You Should Attend the UnConference


Here's a recap from Matthew Jennings ; the UnConference is different for everybody, and he went to different sessions than I did (in fact, I don't remember even running into him there: there were a LOT of people, which was great to see!), so make sure you check that out also:

InstCarn Recap: Day 4 - Unconference 


I showed up early because, like many others, I was toting my bag (heading to the airport after the UnConference was over), and I wasn't sure if there would be a convenient place to stash it. I shouldn't have worried: we basically took over a couple of floors of the Keystone Lodge, and as people arrived, a big heap of luggage accumulated, so that was not a problem at all. We had a delicious breakfast too; this was actually the only day of the conference I had breakfast because the other days it was kind of hectic trying to get from place to place.


A lot of people showed up (yay!), and we all received post-its from Kona (plus all the expert UnConferencers that were helping her) to list our ideas. Then, while Ted Boren gave a super-informative talk about UX (more about that in a separate post; I wish they had videotaped his presentation -- it was like a bonus session!), Kona and her helpers organized the ideas from the post-its into a series of concurrent sessions in the three different time slots. I snagged this picture from Matthew's blog post:



Imagine my bliss: each of the three time slots had a FEEDBACK topic (there must have been a bunch of feedback-related post-its), and they were all in the same room. And yes, it was the FOX FIRE room......... a sign! :-)


So I shamelessly just stayed in that same room and got to talk about feedback with people for three hours.



The groups of people who showed up for each slot had their own dynamic (a few people stayed for two sessions; I think I was the only one who stayed for all three). People were there from totally different types of schools, and there were people with different roles (instructors, IDs, sysadmins)... so many questions and ideas!


One mantra emerged; I think it was at the end of the second session:
Everything is feedback, and feedback can be fun!


True confession: I got so into the conversations that I did a terrible job of taking notes (Matthew experienced the same thing!). I should have brought a voice recorder so that I could have recorded everything and then listened again later. Given that feedback is my theme for the school year (I have some feedback posts in my Community blog), it was really exciting for me to see how that is a topic of shared interest, with so many people thinking beyond grades and tests about the best ways to help and encourage their students, and also to gather feedback from the students about the work we are doing and how we can do a better job.


Just one example: I kept reconnecting with Robert Carroll throughout the conference, including a walk we made around the lake (I can't even remember why that happened; where were we even going???), where he was telling me about the work he was doing on analytics and I expressed my hope that analytics could also include feedback from students about the content, rather than just clicks, time spend on page, page navigation patterns, etc. Anyway, we had had that previous conversation, and then he showed up at one of the Feedback sessions, which was so cool: I know that it really helps me to talk to people with awesome technical knowledge that I don't have, and I am also so eager to share my perspective as a teacher with sysadmins who might not have direct contact with students.


That interaction among people of different roles at different schools is one of the best things about the Community in my opinion, and the place where I experienced that the most at InstCon was at the UnConference. Of course, I know there was a great mix of people at every official session too, but in the hectic rush from session to session and the big size (usually) of the session audience every time, I didn't really get a sense of the mix. But at the UnConference, there was time for everybody to be themselves and get to know each other, sharing our ideas and experiences. It was fabulous.


I need to write up another post about the UX presentation and also some more Unconference details, but for now, just to say: thank you, Kona, for organizing this wonderful event, and to Instructure for making it part of the conference (venue, catering: it was all excellent!).


Here's a picture Kona took of those of us who just couldn't get enough. We finally said our goodbyes, but if it hadn't been for our airplane itineraries, who knows how long we would have just sat around talking! The gigantic heap of luggage dwindled on down and down and down until we were finally out the door:


end of the unconference: a few people still left talking!

You can see the embedded video here: Linda Jean Lee


Wow, the end of the summer really is here, and the official first day of class is (gulp)... tomorrow. I probably should have tried to get myself to write two of these InstCon posts per day back in the bliss of late July and early August! Anyway, I will write up the notes promised yesterday about Linda J. Lee's fantastic presentation on Blueprint Courses, which finishes up my Thursday morning InstCon adventures. Luckily, Linda has made my job that much easier by having shared her slides here already, and also with all the documentation she provided throughout the year as her program got their Blueprint Courses workflow up and running.

Lessons Learned from a Year with Blueprint Courses


... and the videos are out: video link. Although at first glance I don't think we can embed a video here (I was hoping for YouTube that we could embed), and I'm also not sure how we can link to specific videos. I'm having trouble navigating the videos too since I'm not sure how they are organized. I'll explore that and report back tomorrow, but for now I wanted to post about Linda's session.


There was a LOT of interest as you can see. (I'm there in my beanie with Bonni Stachowiak in the front row.)


Linda's presentation at InstCon with panda drone in front row


Even though I don't use Blueprint courses, I was really interested in hearing about Linda's experiences since this is a situation in which the LMS has some advantages, and Linda did a fantastic job of explaining just what goals they were trying to reach with their implementation of Blueprint courses last year. These were the main takeaways for me:


1. Power of InstCon. Linda began this project right after InstructureCon last year: that is really inspiring! So, even though it was a real time squeeze, she went back to Philadelphia and got this big experiment up and running, and now she is back at this year's InstructureCon to report on how it went. What a great spirit of learning!


2. Overlords and minions. Yes, this is unofficial terminology, but I love it! "Overlords" and "minions" is how the folks in Linda's shop use to refer to the parent-child courses (or whatever the official Canvas terminology is; I'm not sure).


3. Community shout-out. I really appreciated how Linda had a shout-out for Ken Black's contributions here at the Community about Blueprint courses. There is clearly a lot of interest in this (as the full room showed!), and I think it is great that people like Ken and Linda are so generous with their expertise all year round here at the Community; you don't have to wait from one InstructureCon to the next to learn about what they are doing. You can do that here at the Community right here, right now. And luckily "blueprint" is a great term to search on, pretty much unambiguous; here are the Community search results:


4. Total process clarity. I would urge you to go through Linda's slidedeck to see the incredibly clear way she described their process in terms of goals, benefits, challenges, etc. Much like with the Broward County presentation, even though this was about a world and work that is very different from anything I do, I felt like I was able to understand the decisions they made and learn from the process. So kudos to Linda both for the really clear workflow at Wharton and also for her really clear presentation of that in her talk.


5. Ouch: no room! The session filled up, and there was someone who came and announced that nobody was allowed to sit on the floor because that would be a fire hazard (I think this is the session where they made that announcement). I heard from people and saw tweets about being turned away when other sessions were full likewise. That is a real problem, and all the more reason to make the videos as fully accessible as possible (more about that tomorrow). Especially if people were turned away from events and told to just watch the video later, I think that is all the more reason to make sure the videos are as open and easy-to-find and share as possible. And of course there are lots of other reasons for open sharinig too, totally aside from doing right by the people who found themselves turned away at the conference from the sessions they had come a long way to attend. I didn't have time to really explore the video collection yet, but I'll see if I can figure out how to make better use of those videos tomorrow. 


Happy Back-to-School for all of you who are starting school tomorrow! :-)

You can see the embedded video here: Sean Nufer


I got behind on my InstCon posts yesterday (busy day!), but it works out really nicely to get caught up today with two wonderful sessions from Thursday morning: Sean Nufer's session on embedded (which I will write about here), and Linda Lee's blueprint courses presentation (which I will write up later today).


For his presentation on embedding, Sean actually created a Canvas course where you can see the embedding in action: perfect! You can find the course here:

Embedding Content in Canvas 


So, for example, this is his Canvas Page with an embedded Sway:


screenshot of Sway in Canvas


Isn't that cool? So we got to see what was actually happening in the Canvas Pages and other course areas as he embedded dynamic content from tools like Sway and Padlet and on and on.


Even better: Sean edited the Pages for us right there during the session. So when the videos come out, you are going to want to watch this video to see how he did that! The idea is that he had pasted in the raw embed code in advance, and then he loaded the code so we could see the magic of the embedded content as it appeared on the Page. He walked us through the process step by step, and he repeated it a few times so that we really got a sense of how easy the process is, while also having a chance to demonstrate a wide array of different tools.


Because I am comfortable with HTML view, I always forget that it's possible to just use the embedding prompt on the default content editor to accomplish the same goal of getting widget code into the page (or discussion board or quiz or wherever). So that was a great reminder, seeing Sean show people how both options are possible, based on the editor that people prefer to use. In the editing bar, the embed option has a video icon, but it's not just for video; you can use it for all kinds of embed code:


screenshot of embed dialogue box


Sean's "anatomy of the embed code" was also really helpful. Especially for setting width and height of the iframe, knowing a little bit about the HTML code can be very helpful, and this page breaks it down really clearly:

diagram analyzing components of the embed code


For me, a big takeaway was new Padlet ideas based on how Sean is using Padlets in his courses. My favorite was the idea of a "personal Padlet" by way of a course introduction. My students do introduction posts in their blogs, but I'd like to introduce them to Padlets, and of course if they make a Padlet like this, they can link to it from their blog. Especially for students who want to share a mix of pictures and videos, Padlet is so nice. Here's Sean's About Dr. Nufer Padlet:


Dr. Nufer Padlet


I'm also thinking of making a "Pet Padlet" where everybody in all my classes can post pictures of their pets. That would be so fun to see, and it would also be a way to get students used to the idea of how Padlets work and how easy it is to create a group padlet where different people can contribute content.


Sean also had fun quiz questions with Kahoot polling. More totally fun Kahoot nicknames! (I wrote about Kahoot names here.) And there were prizes for the quiz winners! If the person who won that awesome jester hat reads this post and has a selfie wearing that hat, it would be great to include here!


You can find out more about the magic of embedding in Sean's Embedding Content in Canvas  Canvas course and also at the Community blog post he wrote about that event.

Embedding Content in Canvas, or: How I Learned to Stop Being Bland and Make My Content Amazing


For me, being able to embed dynamic content in Canvas Pages is one of my very favorite Canvas features... if you haven't tried that before, I bet you can find a tool in Sean's magic tool chest that will be fun/useful for your classes!

Laura Gibbs

18. Michael Bonner's Magic

Posted by Laura Gibbs Aug 16, 2018

And so the whirlwind-of-learning began again on Thursday morning with the Michael Bonner keynote (banner image above is from his website). The presentation was FABULOUS! I hope lots of people were watching the live stream for this one. Maybe people watching the stream even got up and did the right-hand-left-hand oh-my-gosh-what-is-happening-to-my-brain exercise that he had us all doing there in the big tent. It's exactly what we needed to get us -- and our brains -- ready to go for the day ahead.


For people who did not attend that keynote or watch the stream, I highly (HIGHLY) recommend reading Michael Bonner's book: it is excellent!

Get Up or Give Up: How I Almost Gave Up on Teaching (available at Amazon; there's a Kindle version!). 


And thanks to Kristin, we are going to have a Canvas Book Club to read that book together this Fall. Are you interested? Join in where Kristin has that set up here:

M. Bonner - Book Study/PD 


You can also learn about Michael Bonner and his work here:

Canvas Blog: 5 Questions with Michael Bonner


He is also active at Twitter (follow him there!), and here's what he posted about the InstCon event: let go of the fear, everybody. Fear is an illusion!


fear is the illusion: Michael Bonner tweet


Heather Hurley snagged one of the great takeaway quotes from his presentation: that's a call to all of us to invest in our students in this new school year to come. (Thanks for the slideshow picture Heather Hurley!)


You can't demand a withdrawal from someone you have never invested in.


you can't demand a withdrawal from someone you haven't invested in


And I just have to say kudos to Michael Bonner, and to Adora Svitak and Jared Stein also, for keynote addresses that did not shy away from the politics of education today. Here's one of Michael's slides about implicit bias (thanks to Michelle Lebsock for that one):


slide about implicit bias


One of my favorite things about Michael Bonner's book is the list of challenges that he includes at the end, challenges for each and every one of us in the teaching profession. It's pedagogy, it's politics, it's psychology: ALL the things that are part of the big picture when teachers and students go to school together. If you are looking for a way to get started blogging here at the Community, you might try writing up your thoughts in response to one of these challenges. They are powerful stuff, and I really like how Michael Bonner ended the book this way, asking readers to do something based on what they've read.




For readers who are also teachers — If you think you’re ready to “give up,” ask yourself these questions:


When was the last time you visited your student’s house?


What systematic procedures are in place that could potentially harm the trajectory of my students’ success?


Have I addressed any internal problems that are affecting me as a teacher? (Death in the family, past trauma, divorce, and so on.)


What experiences with other ethnicities has affected your ability to build effective relationships with every student in your classroom?


What changes can I make within my character that would benefit my students, school, and community?


When was the last time you offered to help a fellow teacher become a better educator?


Are your lessons designed to bring cultural awareness, or only classroom content?


How are you contributing to the school culture and climate? Would your co-workers invite themselves into your classroom to learn something from you?


Is your grade level team comparing data, collectively working together to build lessons, and consistently communicating about ways to improve student learning? If no, how you change this?


How are you keeping track of the academic and behavioral data in your classroom?


When building a lesson for your students, ask yourself, “Would I have fun learning this?”


How would you describe a dynamic classroom? What could you do to create those qualities in your classroom?


What have you learned about yourself in the past year? How does that affect you as a teacher?


Do you hate getting up every day to teach your classroom? What could you change within yourself to fix this situation? If you have changed yourself, what things could you change in your classroom that would help the situation?


I am looking forward to talking about these topics and more in our Michael Bonner book club, so big thanks to Michael for his book and for the keynote, and for Kristin to helping us explore and learn more in the weeks to come! :-)

Laura Gibbs

17. Local AND Global

Posted by Laura Gibbs Aug 15, 2018

After all the keynotes and session on Wednesday, my brain was... TIRED. But the River Run Street Fair brought me back to life: it was wonderful! I got to meet up with friends there, including Instructure friends like Biray Seitz (hi Biray!). The weather was beautiful, as you can see in this photo from the Twitter stream:


River Run Street Fair


And the dancing was so great; it carried on into the dark, and there were some people who really (REALLY) know how to dance. Beautiful! I couldn't find a video of the Latin dancers, but here's a tweet with some dancing while it was still light out. And this picture shows the party carrying on into the dark:


fair by night


Fun, beautiful, relaxing: everything that we needed after an intense day of conferencing.


I then went back to my room to upload my notes from the day (the gremlins attacked my conference wifi, but not my condo wifi, thank goodness), and I also caught up on the Twitter stream... which is where the GLOBAL comes from in the title of this post. As I was retweeting the great photos and the quotes from the day's events, someone I know in India, the writer Usha Narayanan, started retweeting some of them. How cool is that? So news of InstructureCon was circulated among Usha's many Twitter followers in India:


Twitter screenshot


It was a hard decision choosing between Hack Night that evening and just hanging out (and dancing) at the Street Fair, and then having some  time that night before going to bed... but I'm glad with how it turned out. If I ever get to go to an InstCon again, I will give Hack Night a try... but getting to enjoy that evening at the Street Fair in Keystone was completely delightful. Well done, Instructure!!!

Laura Gibbs

16. The Wednesday Keynotes

Posted by Laura Gibbs Aug 14, 2018

You can see the embedded video here: Jared Stein (Adora Svitak's keynote is not available, unfortunately).


After reporting on the five sessions I went to on Wednesday, I wanted to also say something about the Wednesday keynotes. I missed the morning one by Adora Svitak (because of the evil wifi gremlins! argh!), but Karen Bowden did a beautiful Wakelet of the tweets from that session based on all the good tweeting: Educators as Nation-Builders


I'm sorry that I missed the talk because I've been a fan of Adora Svitak for a long time, and you can learn lots at her website: The inspiring words from her keynote provided a welcome counterpoint to the more corporate keynote from Tuesday night.


Here's a tweet from Daphnee St. Val; click that link for the video in the tweet:


screenshot of Daphnee St. Val tweet


And here's Heather Hurley's screenshot of a link of young people to follow for more inspiration; this is a post at Adora's blog:

Young people doing cool things who you should follow 


screenshot of Heather's tweet

The themes from Adora's talk resonated with many of the things that Jared Stein talked about in his keynote; what was the most powerful to me was the video about Canvas and the Larch Corrections Center:



If you have a few minutes, WATCH THIS VIDEO. It was even more powerful knowing that there were graduates (I think two?) from the program right there in the audience with us. I also found this article about the educational program from Clark College at Larch; this is from back in 2016. I am so impressed by all of this: 

Inmates at Larch Corrections better themselves through educational programs | News | 



Matthew Jennings did a sketchnote of Jared's keynote: so cool!

InstCarn Recap: Day 2 - PM Keynote 


And these two keynotes both resonated with more to come from Michael Bonner. I'll write about that in a future post, but for now, let me spread the word about Kristin Lundstrum's great work organizing a book club so that we can read Michael Bonner's book together this fall:

M. Bonner - Book Study/PD