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5 Posts authored by: awilliams Administrator
Hey everybody! Long time no see, or at least it feels that way. I don’t know if you have noticed, but I haven’t been around this wonderful world we call the Canvas Community as much in the past 12 months. Sure, I still bop in from time to time and do my best to keep up with all the notifications from the amazing things ya’ll are doing, but the past year I have been spending the majority of my time in our Bridge Community

 

 

It is somewhat bittersweet. I miss you all of course, but it has also been a lot of fun learning about Bridge. From the people to the product, I have learned a lot and I still have so much yet to learn. You will be happy to know though, the Canvas/Instructure spirit is alive and strong in Bridge! As we like to say, “from your first day of school to your last day of employment” we will have the software solution to help you teach, learn, and grow. 

 

 

Some of my major accomplishments on the learning side of things were building my first courses, checkpoints, and programs, and getting the hang of managing users in Bridge. I even tried out using some authoring tools and exporting SCORM files. After that, I transitioned to using Bridge for my own 1on1 agendas with Renee Carney and tracking my goals and accomplishments. This transition culminated for me with Project Basecamp, an internal employee professional development activity. I have completed a number of our internal courses and programs as well. I had a Career Drivers conversation with Renee and I call this a big accomplishment because no employer has ever wanted to get to know me on a personal level like this. They always told me what I should be measuring myself on and getting better at. The conversation helped me focus on how I could derive the most joy and success from my career at Instructure, and that information will help Renee know how I tick and what will motivate me to keep improving. 

 

 

Over in the Bridge Community I have been hard at work to continue the work replicating what has been successful in the Canvas Community. The feature idea process, Bridge Studio, mirrors what you are used to here and continues to be one of the most active places right along side Q&A. We launched BridgeLIVE this year and we hope to see over time the type of sharing and caring that CanvasLIVE embodies. However, just between you and me, you teachers and education folk in this Community are some of the most open and sharing people I have ever met. It would be hard for anyone to rival the selfless giving of time and knowledge that I have come to know and love from CanvasLIVE and this community of givers. Because all that giving deserves some gamification, we rolled out a badge and point system and added orientation quests to compliment the lessons on using Community. 

 

 

This is great time to acknowledge Stefanie Sanders, who needs no introduction. Not only did Stefanie pioneer most of this work I am continuing in the Bridge Community, she has also been working like a superhero to keep up with all the activity here while I transition to Bridge. I literally have no idea how she does it. She is definitely the person who has made my 2018 accomplishments possible and there is not enough Motivosity (our internal gratitude system) in the world to give her. I have told her I think she is incredible and has a bear trap mind (you wouldn’t believe the things she can remember!), but I have to do it here again. Stefanie, you are the bomb dot com! Special mention to Renee, Scott, Erin and the rest of team as well. It has been a little over a year working with all ya’ll now and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else! Danielle, Alli, and Tami, it has been a lot of fun doing Bridge things and I look forward to more. I also will take just a moment and acknowledge Instructure as an organization. This company made a team, work environment, and culture possible that allowed me to deal with some serious life changes in mid 2018. Not just deal with, but it empowered me to get through it better than I could have imagined. Getting through that was a major accomplishment and I am not sure how I could have done it working anywhere else. Kudos and thank you Instructure.

 

 

I am super excited and optimistic for 2019! I have everything I will need to accomplish my goals and those goals are attainable and worth accomplishing! Yet, I am also excited for change, opportunity, and things I can’t yet predict but I will enjoy experiencing them when they do arrive nonetheless. I will keep doing my best to check up on things and stay in the loop here. Feel free to create an account in the Bridge Community if you want to see what’s going on there. 

 

 

Ciao for now and keep learning!

At Instructure we care a lot about our users and it is so great to see in our Community how much our users care for one another. In our day to day interactions, we grow to know one another as people, but because of our busy lives, we can't always delve as deeply as we might like. Conferences like InstructureCon are great, but can be even busier than our daily lives somehow!

 

The Community Voice is an idea where we pick someone in the Community and interview them so you can get to know them better in the hopes of forming meaningful and lasting connections. You can view the first installment at The Community Voice: Deb Bogard

 

Jayde headshotFor our second installment, we selected Jayde Colquhoun. She is a Senior Learning Systems and Software Advisor at RMIT University in Melbourne, and she is a Community Rockstar. I enjoyed learning more about Jayde and I hope you all will too.

 

The engagement and support in the community from peers and Instructure folk is not like another I have experienced.

 

Where are you from and how did you get where you are?

I am from Melbourne, Australia. I have lived here my whole life, and began my first job at 14 - washing floors in a cafe and getting paid in dollars and caramel fudge. I’ve always been interested in learning, and while my early career led me into a recruitment administrative role, I was constantly learning everything I could, about anything I could. I began to develop a passion for learning as a student, and an interest in how I was being taught in an  environment.

 

After 10 years in administration, I decided I needed to make the move into the education space so I could contribute to the innovation and progression of  education. I began in a small support role at a RTO (Registered Training Organisation) in Melbourne, and low and behold, they had just implemented Canvas. I was in a very small team focusing on the management of Canvas, which I quickly discovered had been implemented quickly and half-heartedly. I had to teach myself how to use Canvas, and fast. This in turn led me to the Canvas Community which grew my knowledge and helped shaped the way I was able to work with Canvas in this organisation to improve the experience for teachers and students.

 

What sort of organization do you work for?

I now work for RMIT University and am based in the Melbourne campus (though am fortunate enough to work across RMIT Global). We are a large university with over 75,000 students (and over 600,000 enrollments in Canvas courses, guys!) with around 9,000 staff in Canvas.

 

What is your role with Canvas for your organization?

For RMIT, I am a Senior Functional Analyst and I specialise in all things Canvas. I am currently working on the Canvas implementation for RMIT, now in our final stages. I am looking forward to moving into the next stage of the uplift of content and tools within our delivery of Canvas as an LMS. My role encompasses a number of areas within the project including communication, stakeholder engagement, strategic implementation, change management and technical solution advice. I have also taken the role of acting Project Technical Lead while the lead was on leave. 

 

The networking in Canvas, has sincerely led me to my career I am in today - without the Community, I would not have learnt what I have, met who I have and had the courage to champion this product, or myself as an expert user in the product.

 

Do you have any comments about how Canvas impacts making learning Simple/Easy, Engaging, Reliable, or Open?

Canvas works well in taking a back seat when it’s time for students to learn. It does not overshadow content, rather supports and encourages enhancement of content by providing an array of features that are easily accessible and easy to manage for any teacher level. Because of the open,  platform, we are also able to receive feature/ product updates every 3-weeks with no down time - This keeps the momentum going for improvements on delivery and opens the door for teachers to review their courses to ensure they are using the latest features and enhancements. This supports changing the mindset that course content delivery may only be reviewed every year (or sometimes much longer) when a new version of a learning platform is released. The best part? We as part of the global community can contribute to the improvement of Canvas. This means that the platform is not driven by business decisions or technical advancements, but is shaped by the teachers, administrators and students who use it to enhance the learning experience.

 

What are you passionate about with edtech?

For me, edtech is one of the most important tools we have, not only in the physical classroom, but also in  learning. Learning is a way for us, fundamentally as humans to achieve, grow, improve, share, connect and it forms the backbone for everything we do. Edtech is an exciting, innovating way to meet our needs to strive forward - but make the experience for us informative, fun, light, and engaging. I’m so excited about edtech and about where we are heading in the future.

 

I am able to remind myself it’s okay to not know everything about Canvas - guess what, you don’t need to - because each of us knows a bit about something and together in the Community, we collectively know almost everything.

 

If you had 1 wish for edtech, what would it be?

My wish would be for edtech to be more accessible. Given the importance of education in our society today, the limitations around innovation often involves licensing and of course, purchasing! While we know money makes the world go round, it’s the teachers in the classroom every day that are the ones using the technology to enhance their teaching. Often they are restricted because they can’t afford to pay for the “full” version of something out of their own pocket, or have to rely on skills to “sell” the idea to faculty. Teachers should have the freedom to create engaging, interactive and integrated lessons without all this!

 

What do you want people to know about Canvas?

I want people to know that while Canvas is typically a learning platform, you can expect so much more than this. With the transparent experience between the student and the teacher in Canvas, it becomes less about teaching and more about “learning” in shared space, allowing for improvement and overall better student experience. It is a tool that enables students, and teachers to engage directly with each other in and out of the typical classroom, and encourages open learning in collaboration between students and teachers. 

 

The best part? We as part of the global community can contribute to the improvement of Canvas. This means that the platform is not driven by business decisions or technical advancements, but is shaped by the teachers, administrators and students who use it to enhance the learning experience.

 

Do you have any Canvas related projects you want to mention or plug?

Currently, I’m researching and reporting on how Canvas handles large courses (+1000 students). We have posted within the Canvas Community to reach out to other institutions to see if they have experienced any roadblocks when delivering courses of this size, and how they may have resolved. The hope is to then present these results to Canvas to help improve the level of delivery capability. Coming together in the community like this is a great example of of all of contributing to the platform as I have mentioned. Please join our conversation, Large course management: Sections/Groups.

 

What keeps you coming back to the Community?

The engagement and support in the community from peers and Instructure folk is not like another I have experienced. I keep coming back because I know that every time I will have someone respond, there will never be radio silence, I can ask anything and there is someone who has the same need/ experienced something similar. There is an unsurpassable level of knowledge in the Community - I’d love to add everybody’s experience up and see how many years of knowledge we are working with! Though, in saying that, it doesn’t really matter how many years knowledge you have when you have a community like this - what matters is that you are open, ready to forward think and solution with peers. And this is why I keep coming back. It’s like a gold mine! 

 

I decided I needed to make the move into the education space so I could contribute to the innovation and progression of  education.

 

What do you want people to know about the Community?

I want people to know that no question is too big, or too small, nor should anybody be afraid of posting their thoughts or ideas! Don’t know where to post? That’s ok, post anyway. One of the wonderful Community Managers or Coaches will get your post in front of the right people. Don’t know how to articulate your idea? They have that sorted to - follow the guides on how to post ideas, look to others. Even reach out to someone who you have seen in the community and ask their advice - this is the thing, everyone here is so willing to help you no matter what level of knowledge or experience you have.

 

What has been your biggest surprise in the Community?

The networking in the Community surprised me the most. I have spoken to people from all over the world, I’ve had people reach out to me, I’ve reached out to others! I’ve met international Community celebrities (as I’ll call them!) -

  • Have you seen Keegan Long-Wheeler‘s Canvas Camp? I looked to Keegan for inspiration when I was training people in how to use Canvas! And I got to meet him!
  • How about Sean Nufer?? His edtech information is next level!
  • Stuart Ryan! He is such an inspirational community leader for APAC.

I’ve attended their webinars, followed leaders in the edtech community, learnt things I didn’t know I needed (and now couldn’t live without) and more. The networking in Canvas, has sincerely led me to my career I am in today - without the Community, I would not have learnt what I have, met who I have and had the courage to champion this product, or myself as an expert user in the product.

 

The Community gives me confidence in my role. I know that if I don’t know something right away - I am not lost, I’m not alone and if I need to, I can reach out to my peers all over the world.

 

If you had 1 wish you could use on the Community, what would it be?

My one wish would be to bring more people in to the Community, especially from the APAC region. It represents a community of practice, allowing us to share strategies, support and solutions to innovate Canvas and its ability to enhance  learning. Especially given Canvas is quite new in the APAC region, I believe it is important that we share and learn together about what works in our region according to our regulations, teaching practice and cultural experiences. It is a goal I am working towards, and I encourage everybody I can to spend at least an hour in here weekly. (Side wish - I also wish Community Trivia would come back! Come on guys!)

 

How does the Community impact what you do with Canvas?

The Community gives me confidence in my role. I know that if I don’t know something right away - I am not lost, I’m not alone and if I need to, I can reach out to my peers all over the world. If I have a curly one, I can search for previous questions/answers. This has meant that I am able to remind myself it’s okay to not know everything about Canvas - guess what, you don’t need to - because each of us knows a bit about something and together in the Community, we collectively know almost everything.

 

Would you like to raise awareness around anything?

I’d like to ask every person reading this post, to go and find an unanswered/ unresolved question - and see if you can answer it. Just one! It won’t take but a moment... Share a bit of your knowledge. It’s a good step to get you into the community, and an even bigger step towards knowledge sharing and support - which really is what this Community has become.

At Instructure we care a lot about our users and it is so great to see in our Community how much our users care for one another. In our day to day interactions, we grow to know one another as people, but because of our busy lives, we can't always delve as deeply as we might like. Conferences like InstructureCon are great, but can be even busier than our daily lives somehow!

 

The Community Voice is a new idea where we pick someone in the Community and interview them so you can get to know them better in the hopes of forming meaningful and lasting connections.

 

deborah bogard headshot

 

For our first installment, we selected Deborah Bogard. She is an Educational Technology Coach for a K-12 district in Ohio, and she is a Community Rockstar. I enjoyed learning more about Deb and I hope you all will too.

 

Without further ado, I bring you, Deb Bogard!

 

"...facing the prospect of spending my career at a soul-sucking government desk job, I resolved to quit that life and get my elementary teaching degree."

 

Where are you from and how did you get where you are?

I’m a native New Yorker whose family moved to small-town Ohio when I was 9. Talk about culture shock: it seemed to me that I’d been dropped onto an alien planet - could this be why I got fascinated with science fiction? I’d rush home after school to watch Star Trek (TOS of course) and obsessively began reading the likes of Heinlein, Asimov, and Bradbury. These visionaries opened my eyes to the potentials of computer technology.


But although I loved science and tech, it was very much a man’s world in those days, and I just wasn’t self-assured enough to buck the system. So I went the Humanities route in high school and college. Years later, though, facing the prospect of spending my career at a soul-sucking government desk job, I resolved to quit that life and get my elementary teaching degree. I’ve (almost) never regretted that decision.


Since then, I’ve taught every grade from K-8 and have worked as a specialist in both Special Ed and Gifted Ed. Still tech-fascinated, I would volunteer for every tech-related pilot and committee that I could. Eventually, my reputation as a teacher with a tech vision opened the door to a position with our tech coaching team. That was four years ago; also the first year our district fully adopted Canvas as our LMS.

 

"I sense the Canvas organization clings to a higher purpose than just being a business going about providing a service. I see a collaborative, open, and optimistic spirit in the way Instructure operates. In my mind, teaching is very much a higher calling and a mission, and I sense that the Canvas organization believes that, too, and wants to do what they can to help teachers fulfill that calling."

 

What sort of organization do you work for?

Delaware County is just north of Columbus and has been in top 2 fastest growing counties in Ohio for several years, with no end in sight. Our public school district has 5 elementary schools, 1 middle and 1 high school. Slowly steadily growing; currently about 6,000 students. Our demographics are very similar to a large city’s vast diversity, just at a much smaller scale. We're pretty far ahead of the curve tech-wise for districts of similar size and demographics, and even ahead of more affluent bordering districts. Our administration has been very forward thinking for a few decades now about the importance of making good quality Ed tech available to our students and staff

 

What is your role with Canvas for your organization?

Our small department shares Canvas admin duties but I think I’ve become kind of the chief cook and bottle washer for our Canvas instance because I’m such a devotee. I am not ashamed to advocate my viewpoint that I think Canvas is a transformative tool for the public school classroom. The main focus of my job isn’t being an admin, though; it’s coaching our teachers in ways they can leverage Canvas and other Ed tech in their classrooms to evolve their teaching and learning environment toward personalized learning.

 

"We chose to go with Canvas back in 2013 because we saw its potential to meet and support teachers and students at every point along the SAMR continuum."

 

Do you have any comments about how Canvas impacts the goals of Achievement, Innovation, Scaling What Works, or The Student Experience?

We use the SAMR model to frame the vision of the modern classroom. We’ve found that SAMR helps teachers see how they can start dipping a toe into classroom tech by first moving a low-tech task such as a pencil-paper activity, into just substituting computer technology for the pencil and paper...and then gradually moving toward Augmenting these tasks with tech tools that take the tasks to new levels. Next they start tinkering with Modification - figuring out ways that tech tools can be used for in order to fundamentally change and enhance the original task. Finally, after acclimating themselves and developing a level of comfort with all that tech, they’re ready to swim in the deep end of the SAMR pool by working in the realm of Redefinition - coming up with completely novel activities that would be impossible without higher-level tech tools.

 

We chose to go with Canvas back in 2013 because we saw its potential to meet and support teachers and students at every point along the SAMR continuum. Teachers are able to start using it in very simple ways, and then as their comfort and skills evolve, their Canvas courses are able to grow with them and provide teaching and learning opportunities that otherwise would not be possible. Gardner’s 2-sigma problem can be addressed in large part by the ability of a high quality LMS like Canvas to set up a teaching and learning structure that provides a high degree of personalization for our students.

 

"I love the Canvas Studio. I’ve never seen anything similar in any organization."

 

What are you passionate about with educational technology (edtech)?

I would say I’m passionate about customizing and personalizing the learning environment as much as we can, and that edtech is what makes this possible. We’re never going to see class sizes of 10-12 students that would make it humanly possible for a teacher to personalize with her or his own two hands; but edtech effectively reduces a larger class size by simplifying and increasing the efficiency of the classroom workflow - both for teachers and for students.

 

If you had 1 wish you could use on edtech, what would it be?

Tough question! Can I make my wish that I have another 1000 wishes? If that doesn’t work, I guess I’d wish that, when a teacher would have a vision or idea of the way edtech would work best for his/her particular classroom, that it would instantly be able to adapt to that vision. Once they’ve immersed themselves in edtech, Teachers can get very specific about what they’d like to have, and they are naturally impatient when change comes more slowly.

 

What do you want people to know about Canvas?

I sense the Canvas organization clings to a higher purpose than just being a business going about providing a service. I see a collaborative, open, and optimistic spirit in the way Instructure operates. In my mind, teaching is very much a higher calling and a mission, and I sense that the Canvas organization believes that, too, and wants to do what they can to help teachers fulfill that calling.

 

Do you have any Canvas related projects you want to mention or plug?

We’re currently involved with a collaborative of school districts in Ohio that are working together to build exceptional LMS-based course resources from 5th through 10th grade, across all core subject areas,  that we can then share and continue to refine. We’re the first Canvas district to join the project - and because of this we are spearheading the effort to make these course resources as LMS-agnostic as possible. It’s been really interesting to figure out all the moving parts that are involved with building courses that play nicely with other LMS’s.

 

What keeps you coming back to the Community?

As 4 tech coaches serving 350 teachers, there’s no way we can figure everything out for ourselves. The first place I run to when I have a question I can’t quickly figure out myself is the Community. I also love the sharing spirit of its members - and when someone has a thorny issue, it’s amazing to see how a group of people who may have never met each other try to find a variety of ways to resolve the problem or at least develop a work-around.

 

And finally, I love the Canvas Studio. I’ve never seen anything similar in any organization. Users come up with ideas, and they are taken seriously, discussed, debated, and in many cases, implemented. The whole idea/suggestion process has really improved over the past few years and it’s apparent that Instructure listens to its users.

 

What do you want people to know about the Community?

It’s a fascinating mix of people of all skill ranges and expertise levels, and yet, no one is made to feel stupid for even the simplest questions that are posed. Yes, you can ask a question in the Community - any question - and people will try to answer.

 

What has been your biggest surprise in the Community?

Aside from what I said above, it's extensiveness is mind boggling. I keep finding places and ongoing discussions I didn't know existed. I also am impressed at the patience and kindness shown by members when someone comes out on an issue or problem in a troll-like way. It's refreshing to see those types of interactions end with calmness. Wish I would see more of that on the outside!

 

If you had 1 wish you could use on the Community, what would it be?

I would wish for a more sophisticated search function and a granular ability to set up parameters that would push items of interest my way.

 

How does the Community impact what you do with Canvas?

At least half of the new tricks and strategies I learn come straight from the Community. I also am able to find answers to my teachers’ questions there which then makes me look like a wizard in their eyes, lol. The Community is the guy behind the curtain.

 

Would you like to raise awareness around anything?

My coaching focus next year is moving to the K-5 level so I am kind of desperate to join a group of others in that domain. It doesn't exist yet. I've suggested it in the Community but nothing has happened yet. I think it's a subgroup that is definitely underrepresented and faces unique  challenges - and opportunities.

 


Thanks for reading everyone and special thanks to Deborah Bogard for sharing. 

 

Who in the Community would you like to know about and what would you like to know? Let us know in the comments below.

 

If you haven't done so already, the 2018 Canvas Community Check-In is open as of the time of this posting so please tell us what you think about the Community.

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 first day of Canvasmas, the Canvas Community gave to me: an Awesome Canvas Community...

 

I wanted to write a blog post about how awesome this community is, but how does one put it into words? I looked to the season for inspiration. Holidays are a time to put aside normal activities and rest, reflect, recreate, practice tradition, and in general come together as people. In that spirit, I sought someone else to commune with in this sharing, as it did not feel appropriate to write about community in isolation. The holiday is a perfect time to take a moment to observe connections with community both with Canvas and beyond.

 

connections cat

LAURA: Purr-fect indeed! I am very glad to join in on Adam's post like this. And, yes, I believe everything is connected (“connected learning” is the best label for my educational philosophy), so I made a cat for that: Holiday Cat makes connections.

 

 

 

For those who don’t know, the main reason we have a Canvas Community is because we care a lot about you and your success and we know you care a lot about what you do with our software and your success is important to you and many others around you. To be successful you will need a diverse and ever-present support system. Community provides a very special piece of that system where the various roles we all play mean less and our connections and sharing with one another mean more. However, a community is not software. It is people. It is tradition.

 

diversity dog

LAURA: Diversity: We likes it!

Tradition means literally handing down or handing over. English “tradition” is from Latin traditio, which comes from the Latin verb tradere, or trans-dare, to give across. You can give things, person to person, across time and across space. That is tradition. Trans-giving.

 

I am not sure if community is tradition or tradition is community, but in both contexts connecting and sharing are inherent goods. They make the whole stronger through a virtuous cycle of giving to get. Every day I see people taking time to go to a website and help quasi-strangers with a question, concern, or idea. Every day I see people composing incredible thoughts and sharing incredible content with a website, with never a thought for compensation or recompense. And because of this giving, every day I see people getting questions answered by their peers, ideas evolving into impactful change, and blogs inspiring reflection and creativity.

 

janus coin

LAURA: Here I'd like to to invoke the Roman god Janus, who gives his name to the month of January. He looks both backwards and forwards at the same time: reflecting on the past and looking for change in the future to come. So, think about Janus when the New Year arrives on the first of January, and take some time to look both backward and forward. Here is the god as shown on a Roman coin, circa 100 BCE.

 

Every day I see employees, customers, students, parents all working together to solve problems and make each other’s lives better. Some of these connections evolve over time into relationships and those relationships create bonds of connection. This connective tissue is what really supports this special tradition of community we have together.

 

LAURA: And the words themselves tell us that it makes sense to connect over the Internet, as we are doing right now. The English verb “to connect” is from Latin (con-nectere, to bind together), while net is an English word (originally meaning a web, as in spiderweb) — and both words, Latin and English, connect and net, derive from the same ancient Indo-European root word: *ned, to knot, to bind, to tie together.

 

As a fresh college graduate looking for work and finding it as a new Canvas admin, this community provided the support I needed to be a force for good and change in my world. Over time I found the more I gave, the more I got in return, and now monitoring and ensuring the health of this community is a passion I will always carry so that the next admin, student, instructor, parent, partner, developer, employee, or curious person will find what they need here to be successful.

curious cat

LAURA: I have a holiday cat for curiosity too! Christmas Cat is very curious.

 

 

In the tradition of holidays I want to tell each and every one of you how grateful I am for what you do here. You have changed the lives of people like me. Also in the tradition of holidays, let us remember to do plenty of resting, recreating, and reflecting with our friends and families. I count you all as both friends and family! 

LAURA: With many thanks from me also, hoping good things for all of us in this season of joy! And thanks also to Adam for inviting me to weave in some words as part of his Canvasmas post. :-)


Happy Holidays!