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We do this community thing because we care about our users' success and we believe community plays a big role in that. It gives us a place to communicate with our users but more importantly it gives our users a place to communicate with each other. A lot of evolution has happened over the past 5 years since we started figuring all this out. One thing that has become apparent; Community is the gift that keeps on giving.

Community can be a gift you give yourself or a gift someone else gives you, but the nature of community is that it is the accumulation of other people and their shared wisdom and creativity. Simply by receiving this gift you make it that much more valuable. Over time, some users become more engaged in their communities. Being one of these users I can say that this comes with rewards all its own. The sense of extended family, ownership, and responsibility that is on offer to members of communities is quite appealing.

You may be familiar with the Canvas Coaches. This group of people take on a special set of duties here in the Community which largely involves helping keep an eye on various parts of the Community, connecting people and things, jumping in and offering answers and information when they can, and demonstrating the best of what it means to be a good Community member. You may also be familiar with some of the Community Rockstars that, while not official Canvas Coaches, do very much the same thing every day in their own ways. The list of people falling into the Rockstars category grows rapidly day by day. The activity and example of these members is our secret ingredient to success. It is what makes this operation scale. Those of us who “manage” this community would be powerless in the face of one quarter of a million users, tens of thousands of whom are active daily, if not for the blessing of so many of our members deciding to step up and be the change they want to see in the world.

As the lull around the new year wanes and we start to see the signs of Springpocalypse upon us, I would like to take a moment to quantify just how powerful all of this is.


Heartbeat of the Community Over a Year

Looking at the number of sessions on the Community website, you can see this platform really hit its stride around the fall of 2015. You may be able to detect a bit of a pattern. The highest peaks are Fallpocalypse (the lead up to and first few weeks of fall semester in US higher education), followed not long after by Springpocalypse. The valleys are the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. However, notice the difference in the peaks from 2016 and 2017. Almost a doubling of sessions in a single year - Wow! We find similar results when looking at other metrics such as page views and account creation.

Session data for Canvas Community since switch to Jive

Despite (actually because of) our growth, the helpfulness stays awesome.

There are a number of ways to measure the helpfulness of the community. One metric that is readily available is around questions asked. Looking at the last year of question data, the amount of questions has risen 50%. When you are already in the thousands of questions a 50% increase can seem daunting when your team is planned to grow by 0%. Everyone wants growth until they have it and don't know what to do with it. How in the world did we manage an extra 4,000 questions this year? Guess what. We didn't. You all did. More and more we see the trend of every day community members stepping up to act like Rockstars and offer assistance to fellow community members.

When the average member feels empowered and confident to offer help, the gift of community has transformed into a super power: A thing they can be proud of and use to achieve success for their own immediate needs, and as a good will savings account. This magic allows the entire system to scale at a surprising rate.


As of Jan. 2017As of Jan 2018
Total Questions8,00712,755
"with responses"772996.53%12,27696.24%
"with helpful answers"645480.60%10,03778.69%
"with correct answers"412951.57%5,57143.68%

question data trends for Canvas community

Besides growth, what else is changing?

So here we find ourselves. Consistent year on year growth in page views, questions asked, ideas shared, and another Springpocalypse upon us. Hang in there and keep acting like a Rockstar for those around you, because what you do is important. We will keep doing the same for you and we hope the Community continues to be an integral part of your success. I will leave you with a graph of the page views for the month of January over the last 2 years, and year to date data.

canvas community page view data in the month of january for the past 2 years


Now, let's have a conversation about what you think about Community. What questions does this bring up for you? What do you think is driving the change in our Community?

On the twelfth day of Canvasmas, the Canvas Community gave to me: twelve Khaki Ideas...





Fellow Adventurers,


It’s been eight months since our journey to Salt Lake City where we excavated ideas and processes that dove into the beating heart of what makes Canvas Product Ideas come to life.


If you aren’t familiar with what the “Khaki” meet was, here is a summary from my Khaki 2.0 blog post,


Khaki 2.0 (1.0 was held in 2015. See Kona Jones post about all the fun here!) was the name for the second meeting of especially active community members to gather at the Instructure Headquarters in Salt Lake City for a day long Product Development Meet on Initiatives that Instructure has on the table, new ones that we’ve been shouting about for a while in the Feature requests, and how we should prioritize the Engineer / Product Manager workload.


For those who are new to Canvas and those who are always down for a refresher, Canvas listens to its users. That’s why the Product Team invited these Community Members to Salt Lake City.  After the Khaki 2.0 meet, the Product Development team dedicated about 20% of their workload (from April 2017 through to InstructureCon 2018) to the 12 ideas that came from that day.



“How does that relate to me?”


Because your voice matters!


Every time you post to this community, you are collaborating with others on creating an even bigger vision of what’s to come. Khaki would not have been the successful dream that it was if it weren’t for every person who took time to post about needs in the community. You helped share your experiences, you listened to others, you gleaned perspective and helped manifest it into a tangible product: 12 Product ideas, in fact.


THAT is why Khaki is so important. It’s not just about the sprints (how long it takes to make a dream a reality in Dev Ops time) or about the cool perks that come with being a Canvas Community Kid (though, Community points and badges are pretty cool), it’s about the being heard and knowing your voice matters. That is what separates Canvas from other companies and why “the adventure” is only just beginning.  


As if you weren’t already excited, later this month, we will have updates on the 12 features that were found and focused on during the Khaki 2.0 initiative--one of which that has already been conquered!


The Coach and Community Team are excited for the potential you carry as individuals and each other in this New Year!

On the eleventh day of Canvasmas, the Canvas Community gave to me: eleven Product Release Notes...



Do you ever find yourself wondering when a feature has been updated or when your favorite Feature Idea in Ideas will make it into Production? There’s a wonderful place in the Canvas Community to help us understand all of the changes that happen in Instructure’s products.


Release Notes!


Additionally, if you’re just getting started, there’s information All about Release Notes! Cool, huh?


In the Release Notes space, Canvas Community Members can find information about:

  1. Arc
  2. Canvas
  3. Canvas Commons
  4. Canvas Catalog
  5. Canvas Data
  6. Mobile - Canvas Student
  7. Mobile - Canvas Teacher
  8. Mobile - Canvas Parent
  9. Mobile - Magic Marker
  10. Mobile - Polls for Canvas
  11. General Info


One of my favorite parts of the Release Notes space is the little calendar that tells us when to expect Canvas updates. It’s so much easier to keep track of when Beta Instances and Test Instances are reset, when Beta Notes will be released, and when new items will be available in production spaces with this!


Did you know that you can also easily find the most recent Canvas New Feature Screencast on this page? It’s a nice thing to remember when the global search is overwhelming.


I want to take a moment to recognize Erin Hallmark and the amazing Canvas Doc Team for all of the work they do as they organize all of the updates and special announcements! Additionally, they have quite the task of keeping track of all of our comments and questions on their release notes. Your reliability, promptness, and kindness are always appreciated! Thank you!


While we’re on the topic of Release Notes, feel free to join in the Beta Release Notes Chats. They happen on Wednesdays following the publication of the Beta Release Notes document. New participants are always welcome. Watch the CanvasLIVE space for updates and schedules.

On the tenth day of Canvasmas, the Canvas Community gave to me: ten Bloggers Blogging...


Blogs are the gift that keeps on giving. Blogs create community, because they're imbued with personality. We get to know people not only through what they share in their blogs, but how they contextualize it. Blog posts give us insight into a person's process and surroundings, so that we learn not only how someone is using a feature in Canvas but also a look at how that person navigated the journey.


Any community member can create a blog post by joining a group and posting to that group's blog. But why is the tenth day of Canvasmas associated with blogs? Well, 10 is one of the signposts on the road to earning a user blog of one's own. A community member who reaches Educator II status and has authored 10 blog posts will be considered for a user blog. Once you've earned a user blog, you'll be able to post directly to your own blog—and you can still share those posts out to groups if you'd like—so that anyone following you can stay on top of your content.


I promised you 10 bloggers blogging, so I've curated content from 10 authors (listed in alphabetical order by first name). Click on the links to dive into a cornucopia of blog posts, which you'll soon discover are the jumping-off point for avenues to a wide array of resources. 



Here's what you can do right now:


  • Explore these collections
  • Click on each person's profile to browse through all of their content
  • Follow these notables (if you don't already)
  • Click on the Groups link in the global navigation above to find groups to join and follow
  • Blog! 


You'll find plenty of guidance in these resources:


How do I create a blog post in the Community? 

How do I add banner images to a blog post, event or user profile? 

What is the difference between a blog and a document in Community Groups? 


And earlier this year, I presented in CanvasLIVE about blogging, and here's the recording of that session:

Blogging for Apples (in the Canvas Community) 



*James shared some of his Canvancements as documents: you'll find the complete list at Canvancements - Canvas Enhancements  

On the ninth day of Canvasmas, the Canvas Community gave to me: nine CanvasLIVE Event Types…


I have a lot of reasons why I love the Community, but one of those is certainly the free CanvasLIVE events. For those that may not know, CanvasLIVE is a virtual event destination for all Canvas users. CanvasLIVE is made of different event types that may be hosted by Instructure Employees, Community members, and/or Canvas Partners. The sessions are designed to help users improve and enhance their teaching and learning with Canvas.


Within the CanvasLIVE calendar, you have nine different event types that you can use to sort and narrow down to find exactly what you are looking for:

  • Meet-Up
  • Quick Demo
  • Presentation
  • Panel Discussion
  • Twitter Chat
  • Live-Stream Workshop
  • Canvas Course
  • Workshop
  • Conference


For information on the event types, their descriptions, and examples, I suggest you view the CanvasLIVE Document: What are the CanvasLIVE event types?


To get to the calendar so you can start to navigate through the event types, start from the Community>CanvasLIVE>View All Events:

Sorting your CanvasLIVE calendar by event type is really helpful and personalizes your Community experience. You can see what meet-ups are happening, if you want to join a twitter chat, or if you only have a few minutes and want to learn something in a quick demo.


As we start to wrap up the 12 Days of Canvasmas, I want to wish you a happy and joyous 2018! Let’s take the Community to a most awesome place!




As a bonus to day nine, there are also nine CanvasLIVE category types! Just like the event types, you can search and sort by the categories as well. What’s great about sorting by categories is that it will also show you historical events, so you can continue your learning and not have to wait for an event! Those categories are:

  • Roll-Out and Onboarding
  • Course Design
  • Student Engagement
  • Mobile Experience
  • Assessment and Grading
  • Technical & Admin
  • Data and Analytics
  • External Tools & Apps
  • Community & Other
Renee Carney

Day 8: Canvas Coaches!

Posted by Renee Carney Administrator Jan 1, 2018

On the eighth day of Canvasmas, the Canvas Community gave to me: eight Canvas Coaches…


The Elf on the Shelf has become a social media phenomenon, and a loved (or loathed) family tradition, throughout the month of December. Parents leverage their childlike creativity each night so that kiddos can enjoy the elfish shenanigans each morning. Here at Instructure, we have a tradition of an omnipresent being, and I’m here to tell you how it’s nothing like the little elf on your shelf (or wherever he landed last night)!


I’m referencing the tradition of the Canvas Coach. Canvas Coaches originated in 2011 when the founders of Canvas recognized there were individual users of Canvas that were early experts and naturally service oriented. These individuals were asked to continue what they were already doing so well - helping others - with an official anointing of sorts. Canvas Coaches are admins or teachers at their local institution who also give back to the greater Canvas Community. You can read more, and meet our current Canvas Coaches, here.


Now for a little fun.  Here’s how the tradition of the Canvas Coach is nothing like that of Elf on the Shelf:


  1. The elf on your shelf comes from the North Pole.
    While we don’t have a Canvas Coach from the North Pole yet, our footprint is expanding. Just this year our first international coach joined the ranks from Sydney Australia. The remaining roster resides in the US, but covers the spectrum of eastern to pacific time zones.

  2. The elf on your shelf is only in your house in the month of December.
    Canvas Coaches are present in the Canvas Community year round, even through the summer months.

  3. The elf on your shelf lurks quietly.
    There is no lurking done by Canvas Coaches, they are actively engaged with other Canvas users every day!

  4. The purpose of the elf on your shelf is to tattle to the guy in the big red suite.
    To date, I haven’t seen anyone at Instructure headquarters in a big red suite, so that should be a relief. The purpose of a Canvas Coach is to be your friend in the community; to help you find solutions and build on new ideas.

  5. The elf on your shelf is into mischief, nightly.
    You may see Canvas Coaches in the community all hours of the day and night, but I can promise you that there is no mischief afoot (well, unless they hook up with Community Panda, but that’s a whole other story). Canvas Coaches foster relationships and nurture the individuals of the community.

  6. The elf on your shelf loses it’s magic when touched.
    The magic of a Canvas Coach increases exponentially by the number of people they touch and the interactions they have. The community is all about connections!

  7. The elf on your shelf leaves each year.
    Canvas Coaches never really leave. Some may graduate onto bigger and better things, but their vacancy is usually filled quickly with another gifted and talented individual that loves to serve.

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