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This morning Instructure announced an agreement to be acquired by private equity firm Thomas Bravo.  You can read the press release here:

Instructure Enters Into a Definitive Agreement to be Acquired by Thoma Bravo 

 

Because the Canvas Community is a home for Canvas users, here is a link to a letter from Instructure CEO Dan Goldsmith to customers:

https://www.instructure.com/letter-from-dan 

The current Community design worked great when we launched it in 2015. That design focused on what could be done in the Community, but lacked directions for individuals consistent with what they were trying to accomplish in Canvas. We’re going to improve the user experience and make the design prettier in the process.


What’s Changing?

Whether you’re an admin, instructional designer, instructor, parent/observer, or student, you’ll have an improved experience when you’re looking for resources and discussions specific to your role.
The interface colors and layout will be different, but the input we’ve received on the new design leads us to hope that you’ll find it to be not only aesthetically pleasing but also easier to navigate.
Resources are not changing! You’ll still find the same awesome guides, videos, product priority notes, events, Q&A, discussions, blog posts, and more!


When?

Changes will be completed Tuesday, November 26, 2019.

 

Will this impact my access to the Community?

It shouldn’t impact your access (famous last words, right?). If for some reason the homepage is acting funny, please use the top page navigation to get to what you’re looking for.

Here’s a partial sneak peek!

 

As many of you will have seen we are now a community of more than 500,000 members worldwide (*high fives, go TEAM*) and to keep the community running smoothly with questions flowing (and not getting stale) sometimes the Canvas Coaches or Community Team jump in and mark the questions with either ‘Marked Correct’ or ‘Assumed Answered’ depending on a number of factors. Today, I want to demystify the when and why of these statuses.

 

Marked Correct/Correct Answer

This status can be used by the author of the question as well as us. If you ask a question and someone gives you the correct answer that either resolves, or provides an acceptable workaround, you can click the ‘Mark Correct’ button on the question. Marking a question as correct lets the community know that:

  1. If someone has the same issue, the correct answer appears directly below the question (very handy especially for those that find a question from Google and are unfamiliar with the community).
  2. If someone with a particular skill set is has some time free to help out, they can focus their time on an open question.

 

The status is also used by the Coaches and Community Team in a number of situations. The times we will use the ‘Marked Correct’ status include:

  • Link to an active open-for-voting feature idea or we suggest you log a new feature idea: If there is an already active feature idea, or we recommend you log a new feature idea we mark that post correct. We do this so that everyone can easily see the existing feature request or that the requested functionality is not available and needs a new feature-idea.
  • Referral to an alternative support channel: Sometimes there are things that the community is unable to assist with, so we refer you to the correct support channel and mark the question answered. The other support channels we refer you to will often have the capability to see your particular account and school’s Canvas instance and can provide you the help needed especially around enrolments, particular content items, third-party products your school uses, exams and so on.
  • Existing living/active thread: If we are able to find an existing active thread with significant discussion on an identical topic, we will often link to that thread and mark it as the correct answer. We like to keep identical discussions centralised as it makes finding discussions and answers far easier in the long run.
  • Link provided to existing resource/solution: If we see that someone has already answered your question with a correct solution, or we link you to a solution ourselves we select the correct answer.

 

Marked as Assumed Answered

The assumed answered status is used by the Canvas Coaches and Community Team to help the lifecycle of questions in the community and ensure questions do not get stale.

 

As the community continues to grow, ensuring that questions do not linger and become stale is incredibly important.

 

Before we mark a question as assumed answered, we will do everything we can to try to find an answer, workaround, or share it with the right experts by sharing it into another group, prodding the original author for a response, and liaising with other Coaches for ideas.

 

The times we will mark a question as Assumed Answered status generally include:

  • No response from original author: If there are follow-up questions from the community and the author of the question has not responded to follow-up prompts.
  • Multiple correct answers: Occasionally the awesomeness of the community brings several correct answers, or the thread in totality itself is the correct answer.
  • And lastly, the tough one… when the right answer is that there is no answer: This is a really tough one to explain. Sometimes, the correct answer to a question is that there is no answer, it is not a feature available, it is not something that would warrant a feature idea, and despite all our efforts, nobody in the community has a suggestion or way forward for the author. It can be truly disheartening when a question reaches this status, but it is important for us to note that there is no answer (at the time) and the question may need revisiting in future.

 

Hopefully that gives you all some insights into how we manage the epic influx of questions over their lifecycle from inception to answer.

 

Lastly, if you feel there has been a different case that comes up regularly that I have not covered, please feel free to holler and I will happily track it down and pull thoughts together from the Coaches and Community Team.

 

May your Canvassing be awesome as always!
Stuart

I danced a little jig when I saw that the Canvas Community gamification/reward system has been restored. I didn’t realise how much I had missed those regular notifications of missions completed, badges awarded, points gained. 

 

It did make me stop and think about how aspects of gamification have impacted me and how I have learned about using Canvas. 

 

Gamification is about more than just playing games, sometimes it does not involve playing games at all. It could be defined as the concept of applying game-design thinking to non game applications.

  • Wikipedia defines gamification as “the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems”.

 

Whenever I do Canvas training I get participants to join the canvas Community. More often than not they become instantly engaged when they see they hold the status of Freshman, then become absorbed in changing their avatars. Once this excitement settles they discover they can be awarded badges and points all through sharing, commenting, liking and being active in the Community. I like to pause them and get them to reflect on how that makes them feel, and how they could replicate that in their own classroom environments in Canvas. Food for thought. 

I found a cool website 6 Killer examples of gamification which listed some great benefits of gamification:

  1. Better learning experience.
    The learner can experience “fun” during the game and still learn if the level of engagement is high. A good gamification strategy with high levels of engagement will lead to an increase in recall and retention.
  2. Better learning environment.
    Gamification in eLearning provides an effective, informal learning environment, and helps learners practice real life situations and challenges in a safe environment. This leads to a more engaged learning experience that facilitates better knowledge retention.
  3. Instant feedback.
    It provides instant feedback so that learners know what they know or what they should know. This too facilitates better learner engagement and thereby better recall and retention.
  4. Prompting behavioral change.
    Points, badges, and leaderboards would surely make training awesome. However, gamification is about a lot more than just those surface level benefits. Gamification can drive strong behavioral change especially when combined with the scientific principles of repeated retrieval and spaced repetition.
  5. Can be applied for most learning needs.
    Gamification can be used to fulfill most learning needs including induction and onboarding, product sales, customer support, soft skills, awareness creation, and compliance.
  6. Impact on bottom line.
    On account of all these aspects that touch and impact learners (better learning experience, higher recall and retention, catalyzing behavioral change, and so on), it can create a significant performance gain for organizations.

I can’t thank the Canvas Community enough for providing the push for me, through gamification, to engage, share, discuss, and provoke. This nudged me carefully to knowing so much more than I thought I ever could about using Canvas. I’ve gone from feeling lost and frightened about how much there was to learn to feeling confident about where to go to find things out and being enriched by engaging in some deep pedagogical conversations with amazing people.

How has gamification impacted the ways you learn and teach?

Bobby Pedersen

One little word

Posted by Bobby Pedersen Champion Sep 12, 2019

I’ve noticed a word pop up a lot lately in the Community.

‘Thanks’

So simple.

Yet it says that support has been acknowledged. Time and effort have been recognised. Kindness noticed.

I’ve seen it especially when community people have offered help with a question, problem solved, shared an idea or resource.

 

That’s all that needs to be said.

Warms my heart.

Thanks

David Seaton

Back to School

Posted by David Seaton Sep 6, 2019

It's so cool to know that I can do things that I've never done before. After 30+ years from graduating high school, I'm attending college again. Scared, but fun.

It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly when a community coalesces but since at least 2011 people have been interacting with Instructure and helping each other with Canvas in online forums and message boards. In those early days, a few hundred people were involved. Today, that community passes a significant milestone as more than 500,000 people have created user accounts. During this fall start in the northern hemisphere, more than 25,000 people in one 24-hour period were active in the community, commenting, voting, adding content and marking each other’s comments as helpful or the correct answer.

 

The Community is home to all the helpful resources that Instructure provides and keeps up to date for the users of all of its software - the guide articles, videos, and updates on what changes are coming soon. It is also home to all the blog posts, files, discussions, and questions and answers added by the users themselves. On August 29 of this year, 1,535 people contributed original content items to the community!  

 

Those figures are certainly gratifying for someone like myself who has been a member of the community for more than seven years, but they don’t begin to tell the whole story. The real power inherent in the community are those people who have moved beyond a transactional mindset to a relational mindset. These are people who have realized consciously or unconsciously that rather than their interactions being strictly about getting or receiving help from others, the best way they can help themselves is to help others. 

 

The power of community is made up in small interactions that lead to big things. It comes from the community college Director of Online Learning who drove 45 minutes away to help a user of Free for Teacher Canvas or the Mathematics Professor who works tirelessly to build enhancements to Canvas and provides them free to all. It lies with the many people who contribute to the Awesome Canvaslms list. The power is evident when one father offers to drive two exits down the freeway to meet another father at a diner to help him log into the parent app.  The community is powerful when millions of times a month people ask questions and read the answers given by community members who share a common goal around using software to teach and learn.

 

If you have not yet joined, I invite you to log into Canvas and then click on the community-related links in the Help menu or log into Canvas and then go to community.canvaslms.com to get started. Consider becoming a community Advocate. We will be glad to welcome you.

Last week I was lucky enough to go to the sold out CanvasCon in Sydney. It was a great opportunity to: 

  • meet colleagues I usually only collaborate with online 
  • put faces to names 
  • swap stories and ideas 
  • meet a true Canvas rock star Renee Carney  
  • soak up Canvas enthusiasm 
  • hear about what’s coming for Canvas 
  • celebrate what has happened in the last year 

 

So many gem-filled moments. But one little nugget has been on my mind a lot. Jared Stein mentioned during his keynote speech how powerful Canvas is for self-assessment and self-adjustment. The penny dropped, I realised I have missed some golden opportunities with reflections and feedback. Opportunities where learners, and teachers, can take steps towards adjusting and improving even more consciously. I'm going to make that happen more often now. I'd love to know how others are incorporating opportunities for self-adjustment in their Canvas spaces. 

 

Thanks Jared Stein for the pearl of wisdom. I even managed to weave it into our workshop with the wonderful Craig Nicholls. Self-adjustment is something that I think needs to be talked about more. 

I’m using my iPhone and iPad but can’t get quests to work for me.

When I first started using Canvas I approached the Canvas Community as a source of wisdom and much needed nourishment. Little did I know the treasure I’d discover, the friends I’d make and the things I’d learn. 

 

Much less did I realise that the stories and tips I had to share would make a difference to others. Receiving messages of thanks for helping others and sharing my insights and experiences has blown me away, as has the depth of conversation generated by discussions I have initiated or blogs I have written.

 

I have loved that even though it’s all about Canvas – it isn’t really. It’s about the learners. It’s about developing ourselves as better teachers. And we even squeeze in time to share jokes – I love that.

 

Through all of this Canvas Community sharing I have grown as a teacher, as a learner and as a person. I’ve made discoveries, challenged myself and been able to help others.

 

My one wish is to hear from others in the community about their ideas and experiences. Taking that first step is daunting but I’m so glad I made mine.

It’s mid-winter here in Tasmania. Time to hunker down by the fire or brave the elements when well wrapped up. However, a brisk walk in the snow up our mountain and Dark Mofo were well worth rugging up for this past weekend. Dark Mofo numbers break records, as thousands brave Hobart's wintery weather - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corpora…  Mind you I avoided the nude swim on the shortest day!

 

It does remind me that sometimes it’s preferable to stay comfy and warm inside, but with a bit of effort and time you can still have adventures and fun. Not dissimilar to staying comfortable with a way of teaching, or a favourite tech tool, when with a wee bit of effort and time extra adventures can take place.

 

Ian Jukes (Ian Jukes - Springboard21 ) was a keynote speaker at a conference in Auckland over a decade ago.  He introduced me to TTWWADI. That’s The Way We Always Do It. And he made me push myself in all sorts of ways with my teaching, some successful and some total disasters (that I learned from - of course). I bumped into a TTWWADI conundrum online today too TTWWADI | The Thinking Stick . Made me think.

 

I’m in a new role at work and have to challenge myself, rather than relying on TTWWADI. It’s oh so tempting to stay snuggled up inside my own comfort zone, but I know I need to wrap up warm and step outside for an adventure. Some tried and true skills and knowledge will still be used but there's a whole lot more for me to learn and try. Bring on the new adventures! 

 

Recently my new buddy from Virginia Jeff Faust was kind enough to share some amazing work that he and his team have created to support teachers in their district. Through the wonders of our Canvas Community Jeff has been such an amazing colleague across the globe and given me food for thought and a challenge to work on. Thanks Jeff. 

 

Here's a story of how we changed our presentations as an example. Presenting with Canvas – no more power points! 

 

Have you got a case of TTWWADI (That's The Way We've Always Done It) that you are battling with? 

Nicholas Jones

Freedom through Focus

Posted by Nicholas Jones May 28, 2019

I was so excited by this month's blogging challenge - and now that the school year has ended, it feels like the right time for reflecting and cleaning up. Everyone has a few beliefs or assumptions as starting points for how they design, and those beliefs will color how we answer these questions. Here are some of mine:

  • The reason we design and plan courses is to create the best possible learning experience for students.
  • The best possible student learning has students consistently applying the concepts in a course with accountability.
  • Evidence-based decisions are critical to making effective design choices.
  • Every course subject has the potential to be relevant to the life of a student.

 

With that in mind, let me try to answer these questions!

 

Share how you approach course design. How do you organize content so it’s efficient for both instructors and students? What tips and/or tools can you share?

 

I approach course design with clarity for students first and foremost. Your course only exists so that students can take it and learn. To that end, I use Modules in Canvas heavily, and I like to think about it as you would a theater. The Modules area is like the stage. It's visible to everyone. It's where the set pieces and props come out at the right time to make the magic happen. Most other parts of Canvas are "backstage." You don't want your audience to see all the actors running around, props being shuffled, and the visible nails and paint splatters. Generally, I hide as much of the course navigation as possible. I want everyone's eyes on the stage.

 

I have a couple strategies that instructors have found helpful. One strategy is to have an "instructor notes" page in each module. It is always unpublished so students can't see it. This is a place where instructors can make notes for TA's, jot down ideas for what they want to change or what didn't work - pretty much anything related to to that module. That way they aren't trying at the end of the semester to remember months of ideas. Another strategy is to build as much as possible directly in Canvas. I have seen again and again instructors get overwhelmed with multiple copies and revisions of documents they build, only to upload them into Canvas once, twice, maybe three times. Most of the time, what you're building will translate directly to a content page or the instruction box of an assignment. Save your students the extra click of downloading a file, and save yourself the headache of redundant copies of your materials.

 

Explain how you structure course flow. How do you keep content and learning experiences “tidy”? Does it make a difference for learners? If so, how?

 

I try to structure course flow to have students applying concepts as quickly as possible. I take a constructivist approach to learning, which basically means that knowledge is something we create, not something we receive. I resist the usual format of starting with first principles in a discipline because I don't think that accurately reflects how we learn. As children, we learned whole words before we learned the alphabet. It can feel chaotic, but I think its ultimately more effective at creating lasting learning.

 

This has two implications for me. First, I use a weekly module format that I keep as consistent as possible. A predictable, highly consistent course structure can enable learners to be messy and courageous in their learning by giving them a solid foundation to fallback on. Second, I obsess over the course objectives and how they get translated into module objectives. I think objectives need to be tied to specific actions you expect learners to be able to perform. If learning is an active process, we need to conceptualize what they're learning as active, too. Building the course with a laser-like focus on your learning objectives helps ground the rest of the design process. 

 

When closing a course, do you have any rituals like reflection or reorganization? How do you make sure you only “keep what brings you joy”?

 

For me, it all comes back to course objectives. I don't believe you can make strategic decisions about what is or isn't working in your course unless you clearly define for yourself what students will learn (and by learn, I mean be able to do) by taking your course. There's a saying I've heard about screenwriting for film: No line is worth the scene. That means that there is no line you could write for an actor that justifies keeping a scene that doesn't benefit the film. It could be the most poetic, sublime, incisive look into the human experience condensed into a few sentences, but if the scene it's in detracts from the rest of the movie, you need to cut it.

 

We have a tendency to be precious about our work, and course design is no different. You may have designed an inventive activity or resource. But if you have to twist your course in knots to accommodate it, you need to cut it. And this is why spending time on your objectives is so important. Those objectives are your roadmap for what you should and shouldn't keep. What brings me joy in course design is when all the parts of the course are working harmoniously together toward the same goal.

 

But, hey — that's my take. I can't wait to read what other folks think!


.

 

You to the power of education

As the makers of Canvas, Instructure believes education is one of the world's most powerful forces for change.  This spring we're asking students, "How will a college education give you the power to achieve your dreams?"  We hope you'll answer with stories that share your dreams and ambitions.

 

What’s in it for you?

How about $10K in scholarships, the chance to see your story on stage in Long Beach, California, and—of course—the intangible greatness of bragging rights?

 

Instructions & Rules

  • Create a 30–60-second video explaining how a college education will give you the power you need to achieve your dreams and how Canvas will help on your journey. Be creative. Feel free to involve others in your video, and then use your wizard-like editing skills to polish it off!
  • Submit the video by posting it publicly to Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtag #powerofedu and by tagging @CanvasLMS.
  • All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. MDT on June 21, 2019 or until 1,000 submissions are received.
  • All videos will be reviewed, some will be reposted by the Canvas team online, and three winners will be announced at InstructureCon 2019 in Long Beach, California, July 9–11.
  • Winners will be chosen based on creativity and vision as judged by a team at Instructure, the makers of Canvas.
  • Awards will be granted for 1st ($5K), 2nd ($3K), and 3rd ($2K) place.
  • Winners will have scholarship funds deposited into a 529 College Savings Plan education account. Students and parents/guardians must register for account.
  • Winner and one parent/guardian will be flown to Long Beach, CA for InstructureCon 2019, July 9–11.
    Official rules can be found at https://blog.canvaslms.com/blog/canvas-student-scholarship-contest

 

Read the Official Contest Rules

Share how you approach course design. How do you organize content so it’s efficient for both instructors and students? What tips and/or tools can you share?

Assignments are the fundamental building blocks in a Canvas course. They are the milestones that students can achieve.

Assignments can be big

Assignments that are placed at the end of a module, can be used to check if the student has achieved the intended learning outcomes.

Assignments can be small

Every time you ask your students to do something, you are giving them an assignment.

  • You can ask your student to read a few lines of text, and to underline some keywords.
  • You can ask your students to come up with an idea for a project.
  • You can ask your students to take a picture of their work.
  • You can ask your students to work on some exercises in a document.
  • You can ask your students to summarise what they saw in a video.

A course could in theory only contain assignments. The course would be like an online exercise workbook. An assignment could, in that case, contain one or more exercises that the students have to complete.

 

Explain how you structure course flow. How do you keep content and learning experiences “tidy”? Does it make a difference for learners? If so, how?

It's important to clearly present the content in every assignment, and to organise the different assignments in your modules, your assignment groups, your gradebook, etc.

Present the content in your assignments

An assignment should have:

  • A title: The title should be short and concise. Add an abbreviation if the assignment is part of a module (f.e. LO1)
  • Settings: Submission date, grade, submission type, etc.
  • A short description: The description should explain what the assignment is about.
  • A list with steps the student has to undertake: This could be as simple as: 1. Download a document. 2. Answer the questions in the document. 3. Submit the document.
  • Links to additional information: Frequently asked questions, agreements the student must comply with, etc.
  • A rubric: To communicate the intended learning outcomes.

 

Organise the assignment in modules

Add your assignments to modules to provide context. Adding other resources to your modules, helps your students with finding all the necessary information in one place. (more information about this is in my other blog post: Providing structure with modules.)

An alternative to adding activities (worked examples, video's,...) to modules, is to add the links to activities to the assignments description. This can be useful when you are working with a lot of smaller assignments. An extra advantage is that you can digitally handout these assignments to individual students with the 'assign to' function in Canvas. Adding all the information that students need, to the assignment itself, makes it much easier to do this, and to differentiate.

 

Gradebook 2.0 has some great functions to filter assignments by modules, sections and students. It can become a dashboard that shows you which assignments are assigned to which students, and where you have to give feedback.

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Bobby Pedersen

Canvasary

Posted by Bobby Pedersen Champion May 10, 2019

Two years have flown by as a member of this versatile community. I can’t let this anniversary go by without taking stock on what has happened in that time for me.

Learning

One of the main reasons for joining the community was to learn how to drive Canvas. I’ve learned so much. But more importantly I’ve learned that I don’t need to know it all at once at the beginning. Instead I need to know where to find things out when I need them. Joining groups, reading blogs, joining discussions, asking questions, using the guides has helped me to slowly build my knowledge with purposeful reasons each time. 

Horse Before the Cart. Purpose first, Canvas second. 

Even though I can’t attend the many Canvas conferences that occur the learning from these is still available to everyone. Watching videos of sessions and even being able to attend remotely has been amazing.

Get Ready to Binge-Watch InstructureCarn! 

Connections

Another reason for joining was to meet other Canvas users and swap ideas. Initially I thought that would just be in Australia! APAC I’ve been so impressed with the global sharing and support available and the camaraderie amongst Canvas users. There is so much wisdom in the collective genius of the community and people are so willing to share it. Blows me away every day.

It's Better Together 

Encouragement

The support given so freely in the community has encouraged me to try new things, ponder the purpose then in turn support others.

 What does Community mean to me? 

What's on your plate? 

Improvement

Instructure does their very best to listen to us,the users, when we have ideas to improve the Canvas experience for our learners. How cool is that!

Shameless plug for an idea - Speech to Text in Rich Content Editor in Windows OS. Make it richer! 

Bonus Giggles

I have really enjoyed the banter in discussion and the shared laughs. What a fabulous group of people. 

Dad Jokes.Succeeding 

 

Thanks Team Canvas!