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Catalog Users

Instructure
Instructure

Hey Everyone, 

You'll notice that the Catalog beta environments were not refreshed yesterday. We've had to adjust the schedule for this week. All beta environments will be refreshed tomorrow (April 22nd). Drop any questions in the comments. Thanks.

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Instructure
Instructure

Some Catalog users have noticed a sharp increase in fake accounts being created over the last few weeks. We're adding 2 new features to Catalog to help mitigate the issue. 

First, you'll notice in your beta environment that we've added reCAPTCHA to the registration process. This will block bots from being able to create Catalog accounts, as well as deter groups of humans from creating fake users. By default this will be turned on for all accounts in production on the 18th. However, we know some institutions have customized the registration flow. If you would prefer not to have reCAPTCHA added to your registration page, please let your CSM know before the 18th. While the reCAPTCHA setting isn't user accessible, we can also easily enable or disable it at any point in the future for institutions who would like a change. 

Second, we're adding the option for institutions to use and manage a list of allowed or blocked domains for new user registration. For example, if an institution was seeing fake accounts getting created from the domain fakeusers.net, they could add that to their blocked list. Or, if an institution only wanted users to be able to create new accounts using their institution's domain, they could add that to their allowed list. 

These lists will be configurable in the UI under the Catalog info tab. Sub accounts will have the option of inheriting the setting from the parent account or managing their own list. Only one list can be active at a time per Catalog, and an allowed or blocked list does not need to be used. Look for this to hit beta later today or tomorrow. The plan is also to push this to Production on the 18th. 

We know these changes are coming rapidly and appreciate any feedback. 

Edit 4/15/20

We were hoping to have the allowed and blocked lists ready to go out along with the reCAPTCHA work, but it's going to take us a bit longer to get it wrapped up. Only reCAPTCHA will go to production on the 18th. We'll see how much this mitigates the creation of fake accounts and evaluate if we need to release the registration restriction lists early or if it can go out with the normal release. If we do decide to release it early I'll update this post. 

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Instructure
Instructure

Hey everyone! 

Welcome to 2020. I hope everyone had a fun, relaxing holiday break. This time of year always provides an opportunity to reflect back on what the previous year shaped up to be, as well as look ahead to what the new year might bring. I thought I’d take a few minutes to do something similar for Catalog. 

Catalog’s 2019

2019 was an interesting year for Catalog full of steady improvements to the back and front end, team structure changes, and balancing a broadening set of priorities. To begin the recap of this year, let me list many of the product accomplishments that the team had: 

Improvements to Catalog reporting - The Reports section of Catalog was rewritten from the ground up in a framework that’s much easier for our team to support and work in. With the rewrite we took the opportunity to add a few improvements, such as sortable headers, pagination, date range filtering, catalog level exporting, and accessibility enhancements. 

We also added a new “completions” tab to the analytics page, allowing admins to pull data by completion. This tab provided the perfect place for us to surface certificates that had been issued to students, so admins can now view those there. 

Lastly, as part of this work we also improved the way we export user-defined fields. Now, each user-defined field gets exported into a separate column, allowing for much easier reading and manipulation.

Listing Create/Edit page rewrite - Similar to the reports page, we’ve rewritten the create/edit page in Catalog from scratch, using a framework that will be much easier for the team to maintain and build upon in the future. Along the way, we added some small touches that we’ve heard requests for, including: 

  • Hide the “free” banner and wording from listing cards
  • Add alternate text to listing images
  • Rearrange program requirements
  • Print an expiration date on certificates

One of the big issues with the previous create/edit page was the lack of accessibility support. With the rewrite, we’ve updated our components and fields to behave appropriately with keyboard navigation as well and screenreader alerts, including an all new rich content editor. 

Show canvas enrolled courses on Dashboard - We’ve created a setting that allows admins to have more control over how the student dashboard gets populated. 

Move from Pandahooks to Live Events - We’ve made a backend change to the underlying communication between Catalog and Canvas. In the past, Catalog has relied on a technology called webhooks, which didn’t have the error protection that we needed. With Live Events, if an event encounters an error it will keep trying for 24 hours. Completions and enrollments now sync more reliably between the two systems. We’ve been running both side by side for several months and are officially turning on live events this week. 

Respecting course date settings when creating new sections - When sections are created in Canvas, we now use the course date settings, eliminating the administrative overhead needed in the past to update the sections after they were completed. 

Beta environments for all regions - Catalog now has a beta environment in every region, allowing all of our customers to test new features and ideas in a safe environment. 

Expanded Payment Gateway support - We’ve added the accept hosted method to our Authorize.net integration option. Additionally, we’ve integrated with a new payment gateway, CCP. 

Catalog added to Bugcrowd - Catalog has been added to our bugcrowd environment. 

Better high-enrollment event handling - We spent time this year making infrastructure improvements that allow Catalog to better support large enrollment events. This situation can happen when a new program or listing is opened for the first time, for example.

Non-Functional Requirement improvements - Part of keeping platforms healthy is making sure that we’re spending time working on our non-functional requirements—the team spent several weeks this year making sure that Catalog is adhering to the latest best practices such as performance, security, database redundancy, and backups. 

Catalog data availability in Canvas Data - Catalog data was added to the Canvas Data portal, making it available alongside all other Canvas data. 

Improved external identity provider logout process - When an external identity provider is used in conjunction with a connected Canvas account, Catalog now has an improved user flow to help ensure that users are completely logged out when ending their sessions. This is a backend setting that we have to flip on, so if you’re using an external identity provider and are interested in having this enabled, please reach out to your CSM. 

Reduced maintenance downtime windows - No one likes scheduled downtime. We diligently avoid scheduling downtime for maintenance, but on very rare occasions we have to take the app down for a brief window. We’ve made some optimizations to that process that allow us to get things back up even quicker than before.

Alright. That covers a lot of the Catalog work that the team pushed out this year. 

Team Structure

Now, let me spend a minute or two on the team structure changes. The education side of Instructure recently reorganized the engineering teams into what are called charters. Each charter has areas that they’re responsible for. This change is aimed at providing more structure and clarity. 

As part of this change, the Catalog team members were added to an existing team. The collective team owns some exciting and critical areas of Canvas in addition to Catalog, including the Gradebook and Speedgrader. I can’t tell you how excited I am for this new team structure. 

For the next several months, the team is going to be focused primarily on projects in Gradebook and Speedgrader. We will still be maintaining Catalog and resolving issues that come up. And, depending on how things go, we might be able to squeeze a few small Catalog feature projects into the mix (keep your eyes peeled for a new API endpoint to drop users from catalog listings). 

While our focus for the first part of this year isn’t squarely on Catalog, we do have projects that we’re really excited about for Catalog down the road. Stay tuned for a post on upcoming development as we get a bit closer to those projects.

Release and Beta Refresh Schedule

Catalog will be released on the same day as Canvas each month. We'll do a beta refresh the following business day. For January, for example, the release will happen on the 18th and the beta refresh will happen the following Monday, on the 20th. 

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Community Team
Community Team

The Catalog team is working on an automated process that will update beta on a regular cadence so you know what to expect. More information about this functionality will be announced when available in a future version of the release notes.

For the remainder of 2019, beta environments will be refreshed on the following dates:

  • December 6
  • December 18

The exact time of the refresh will vary by region but will begin at 9 am MT (3 pm UTC).

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Instructure
Instructure

We're excited to be working on an all-new version of the listing and program create/edit page. As with all of our UI rewrites, our goal is to be streamlining the design and leveraging our awesome library of InstructureUI components. We also hope to make the page generally more user friendly, more accessible to keyboard users, and more functional.

We've got a few light feature improvements planned for that page. First, we're adding an out-of-the-box way to remove the "free" banner from listings that don't have a cost. Second, a new tag component should squash some of the current tag issues we've been seeing. And third, we're going to be using an all-new rich content editor with improved functionality. It's also much more accessible. Speaking of accessibility, all the new components that we're using are designed to be keyboard friendly. We'll also be moving the save button to a sticky footer, making it easier for keyboard only users to save a listing. And, last but not least, a new field to add alternate text to listing images will help make Catalog listings more screenreader friendly. 

This rewrite will bring us one step closer to being a fully React application. It also provides us with an opportunity to update the look and feel of the page, and this is where we need your help. One of our amazing designers took a pass at reimagining the page and we'd love to hear what you think. The page is broken up by fields that are reflected on the course card (like the image and description) and then course settings that are behind the scenes (like the path).

Take a look and let us know what you think in the comments!

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Instructure
Instructure

I'm excited to announce that we have created a beta environment for Catalog for our Canadian customers. It went online on Monday, April 22nd. We're working hard to stand up other beta environments internationally, and our goal is to have a beta environment in every region where Catalog is available by the end of May. This will allow all of our Catalog customers to preview and test new features before they move to our production environments. As a reminder, beta environments are refreshed every 3 weeks in lockstep with our deploys.

In addition to standing up beta environments we're also beginning the work on our next react rewrite (for details on the react rewrite check out my previous blog post here). This rewrite will be of the listing create/edit page. Users can expect to see a more streamlined UI that utilizes InstructureUI components, as well as a few functional updates to that page. As with all of these rewrites, the transition will be largely behind the scenes.

I'll post again when the rewrite heads to beta.

Jon

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Instructure
Instructure

Hey everyone! 

As we've mentioned, Catalog is following the Canvas deploy schedule. That means we're deploying new code every 3 weeks to both Beta and Production. Unlike Canvas, we do these deploys on the same day, which is the Monday following the Canvas Production deploys. Our plan is to publish release notes a few days after those deploys, highlighting the changes that are brand new on Beta, as well as reminding people what is now available on Production (which had been on Beta for the proceeding 3 weeks). We're a bit behind with this set of release notes but we hope to get the cadence down going forward.

As I mentioned in my last post. we're doing a few page rewrites in Catalog. We've wrapped up our work on the reports page, and you should be able to see those changes in Beta. Those will go to Production with our next deploy. The next rewrite will be of the Listing Create/Edit page. This page is a bit more complex than the reports page, but we're excited to get it moved over to React. I'll be sure to post again here in the community when that work is moving to Beta. Just like with the reports page, this will only impact custom code that was written for that page.

We hope you like the new reports page! To recap, here are a few of the highlights - date range filters, Catalog level exporting, and sortable headers. Be sure to also check out the new Completions tab in the analytics. As always, let us know what you think in the comments! 

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Instructure
Instructure

Hey everyone,

The front end of Catalog was constructed mostly in a JavaScript (JS) framework called Ember that was popular around the time Catalog was originally being built. Ember has some inherent downsides that can make it difficult for our engineers to work with, and we would like to eventually move Catalog over to a more modern framework called React. This will happen over time.

This is potentially impactful for Catalog users who are using custom JS in the admin portion of Catalog. If you’re not using custom JS, the changes will go largely unnoticed. To help those who are using custom JS, I want to outline our strategy for making this change.

Going forward, any feature work that we do on a particular page in Catalog will begin with us rebuilding that page in React. For example, we are planning on adding a date range filter to the reports page, as well as make individual Catalog reports exportable. Before these features will be added, we’ll be rewriting that page in React.

Rewriting Catalog in React will pay big dividends going forward. It allows us to much more easily add new features down the road as well as use assets from Canvas, thereby improving consistency between the two platforms and further speeding up development.

I’ll post in the community whenever a page rewrite is coming. For regions where a beta is available, the rewrite will be on beta for 3 weeks before going to production. The first of these changes is going to beta as part of the March 11th release, which will be a rewrite for the revenue report pages.

Again, for most customers this as well as future rewrites will happen transparently.

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Instructure
Instructure

Hello everyone!

Let me start today's update by mentioning the recent Catalog release and encouraging everyone to check out the release notes here. We're excited to be bringing features and enhancements to Catalog. Here's a quick recap:

  • User Defined Field data is now broken out into different columns when exported. This makes it much easier to analyze and manipulate. 
  • New sections created by Catalog will now inherit the course's user participation setting.
  • Listings will no longer disappear from the student dashboard and transcript when the course settings are used that restrict course visibility. 

Let us know what you think of these improvements!

Alright. Now on to updates. First, a quick note about Catalog releases and beta refreshes. We're now going to be doing scheduled beta refreshes in step with Canvas beta refreshes. We will also use these days to do our code deploys. 

Next, we've laid the groundwork to move Catalog over to Instructure's Live Events service. Catalog is currently using a webhooks service to communicate with Canvas. While this has served us well for many years, it's time for an upgrade. Live Events is much better at handling errors and will set us up nicely for more communication between the platforms in the future. This first transition will happen behind the scenes, but you should notice fewer errors with Catalog <-> Canvas communication.

Ok, now on to features that should be out over the next few releases. The project that we're focused on is all about reporting. It includes:

  • Bringing Catalog Data to the Canvas Data portal. This is a coordinated effort between the Catalog and Canvas Data teams and work is well underway
  • Adding the ability to export the revenue report for individual catalogs
  • Adding a date range filter for the revenue report
  • Adding a new tab to the analytics page called "Completions". This tab will pull data based on completion date instead of enrollment date, and will also surface all certificates that have been issued for admins to view/download

Beyond the reporting project we've got a lot of exciting things planned for Catalog, including waitlist management, listing duplication, alternate text for listing images, and a shopping cart. So keep an eye on the community page and release notes for updates!

Lastly, the next User's Group call is coming up this Friday (February 1st) at 12:00 MT. This is a great chance to ask questions and share ideas. 

Happy Cataloging! 

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Surveyor

Hi Admins—
 
We'll be performing maintenance on the Canvas Catalog Payment Redirector on Tuesday, November 27th starting at 11:00 PM EST / 4:00 AM UTC. Your users will not be able to process payments for catalog listings or programs for up to four hours during this maintenance event. Features not relying on a payment provider will not be affected during this time.

The purpose of this event is to significantly upgrade the technology stack supporting Catalogs Payment Redirector service. This upgrade will make the service more stable and performant and allow our engineering and professional services teams to innovate upon, extend, and customize the product to better meet customer needs.
 
Please contact your Customer Success Manager if you have any questions or concerns.
 
Thanks,
 
Canvas Support

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Instructure
Instructure

Hello Catalog Users!

I’m excited to be posting another update on Catalog. To start things off, I’d like to bring you up to speed on how the Tech Stack update work is coming along. We’ve made tremendous progress over the last several months and Catalog is looking better than ever. However, digging into software can often be a bit like peeling an onion—it involves peeling back layers. As we’ve dug deeper into the Catalog codebase, we’ve identified a few additional tech stack updates that need to be made to really shore up Catalog and prepare it for the future. This means we’re extending the Tech Stack project by a couple of months before diving into new feature work. While this does add a bit more time and work to the initial scope of the Tech Stack project, you can take it as a sign that we’re fully committed to Catalog’s long-term success.

Speaking of feature work, I would also like to share our prioritized list of projects that we’ll be tackling once we wrap up the current work. However, before I jump into the priorities list (try to resist the urge to skip ahead), I wanted to spend a minute or two explaining our prioritization process. As anyone who works in software will tell you, there is always more that can be built than there are available resources and time. Given these constraints, we use several metrics to help us evaluate the priority of any given project.

First, we consider how a project or change will affect and improve user experience. We also analyze how broadly the change will be utilized. It’s helpful to think about these together. For example, there might be a feature that would be very beneficial for users if built, but might only be used by a very small portion of our users. In general, the more impactful and the more broadly useful a feature is, the higher priority it gets.

Second, we examine how technically feasible it is to build and implement. Some projects that look easy are actually quite difficult to do from an engineering standpoint. The reverse can also sometimes be true, where a feature that sounds complicated turns out to be relatively simple to build. We use the results of these evaluations to plan our projects so that we’re working as efficiently and effectively as possible.

We compile the data from each of these assessments and, looking at them together, use the information to prioritize projects. Our guiding star is to always deliver as much value to as many users as quickly as possible. Sometimes that means doing several small projects, and other times it means tackling a project that will span several months.

One last thought before sharing our prioritized list of projects: The list provided below is not a firm commitment to deliver the features listed by a certain date.

The list below outlines what is currently planned. Plans can change. As we’ve already seen, it’s possible that we’ll run into some unexpected issues in the code. Or a feature might turn out to be more complicated than we originally thought. Or a non-Catalog issue could crop up and alter this plan. For example, critical bugs in other platforms sometimes come up that require an all-hands-on-deck response or unexpected personnel changes. Of course we hope everything goes perfectly according to plan, but often that’s not the case. No matter what happens, we’ll do our best to keep you updated and adjust the plan as needed.

And now, without further ado, here is the prioritized list of features that the Catalog team will be working on:

Catalog sequence of work

  • Improve user defined field data on export - Currently, when analytics data is exported as a CSV file, all user defined fields data is lumped into a single column, making it difficult to interpret and use. This project will separate each field out into its own column.
  • Add a new “Listing Report” - This report will aggregate change data by listing, rather than by user. Admins will be able to download this data from Catalog Reports in order to more easily monitor listing activity.
  • Add date range filter and sub-catalog exports to reports - Admins will be able to specify a date range when running a report in Catalog. Additionally, this project will make it possible to export reports for individual sub-catalogs.
  • Add a new “Completions” tab to analytics - Admins will be able to view user data in analytics based upon Catalog listing completion dates rather than enrollment dates. As an added bonus, we’ll also be adding a link to view issued certificates from this tab.
  • Add Catalog data to Canvas Data - For anyone who isn’t familiar with Canvas Data you can read all about it here. We’re excited to bring Catalog data to the Canvas Data Portal.

Our goal is to have all of the above items completed before the end of the year. As always, things might change once we dive in. But if all goes well we’ll end 2018 with all of those on Production for your Cataloging pleasure.

Looking beyond 2018, here are the priorities to start the new year.

  • Add the ability to duplicate listings - Admins will be able to duplicate any listing within a sub-catalog. The newly created listing will still need to be attached to a new Canvas Course and will include all of the data from the original listing.
  • Add the ability to manage waitlists - Admins will be able to move users up and down on a waitlist, as well as remove users from a waitlist all together. Waitlist numbers will also display on the Listings page, making it much easier for admins to see how many people are on the waitlist for each listing at a glance.
  • Add certificate expiration dates - Admins will be able to create expiration dates for listing certificates. They will be able to specify either a specific date or a set number of days from the time the certificate is issued.
  • Add a shopping cart - This will allow shoppers to enroll in and pay for multiple listings in a single transaction.

We hope you’re as excited about this list as we are. And while we’ve given this list a lot of thought, it’s possible that items might shift or get tweaked as we make our way down.

Happy Cataloging!

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Community Team
Community Team
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Instructure
Instructure

Hello Catalog Users! 

BAM! Just like that, in the blink of an eye, we find ourselves deep in the month of March. Spring emerges cautiously from the now-distant holiday season as we arrive at another Catalog community update. As promised, this blog post will focus on the work that the team has been doing since the start of the year and what we expect will carry us through next quarter as well. It's guaranteed to be an exciting journey as we dive into the purpose of the project, take a crash course on NFRs, and maybe even touch on the meaning of life. So grab your coffee if it's early, diet coke if it's midday, or that secret flask you keep stashed under your desk if it's past quitting time and come along as we embark on this remarkable adventure together!

To start things off, let's talk about why this update was necessary in the first place. As anyone who's worked in software development can attest, it's an ever-changing sea of technologies, standards and best practices. As industries advance (at an ever increasing rate it seems) software needs to be updated from time to time to keep up. And that's the place we found ourselves with Catalog. There were a few things on the backend that needed to be brought up to speed with our other platforms here at Instructure. Which takes us to NFRs. 

In software, NFR stands for Nonfunctional Requirement. It basically means a function or attribute of the software the doesn't directly impact the user experience or is ancillary to its core purpose, yet is still crucial to overall "fitness". These usually include requirements touching on things like performance, security, scalability, accessibility, maintainability, and a bunch of other words ending in y. Though they live behind the scenes, NFRs are crucial to happy and healthy software. 

Ok, here's a good place to pause while you refill your beverage and grab another handful of peanuts. And while you're restocking, I can hear you asking yourself, "Thanks for the info, Jon, but what in the world does this have to do with Catalog?" I'm sure glad you asked! I bring them up because NFRs make up a large portion of the tech stack project. We're dutifully doing an audit of each NFR and making adjustments where needed. Nothing major, mind you, but rather small adjustments and tweaks. As we blow the dust off and spin up a new Catalog team, it's important to us that we take a top-to-bottom look at our NFRs to make sure we're 100% up to snuff.

Besides NFRs, there are a few other things we've lumped in with this project. For example, we're moving from our legacy deployment tools to newer ones. This will bring us in line with other Instructure platforms and give us all the benefits that the latest and greatest development tools have to offer. While these projects won't be very visible to our users, they stand shoulder to shoulder with NFRs in making sure Catalog is using the latest best practices and technologies.

And that's really what this project is all about. (Ok, ok. So I might have oversold things a bit when I said above that I would touch on the meaning of life). But even though I don't have the answer to life's most important questions, I DO know why we're doing this tech stack work. We're as excited as ever to start delivering improvements and enhancements to our amazing Catalog users, but we want to make sure we're set up for a smooth journey ahead. Well, as smooth as things can be in the world of software, that is. 

Well, that's it for this post! Not only are you now hydrated but hopefully you also feel a bit more enlightened as well. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to watch for another post next month. 

Until then, happy cataloging! 

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Instructure
Instructure

Hey Amazing Catalog Users! 

Time for another blog post! In this episode we'll give you a peak behind the curtain and introduce you to some of the amazing team that works on Catalog. But before we get into that, I'd like to first say a big "thank you" to those that participated on the User Group call last week. And special mention to jsowalsk@umd.edu for her work in getting it all set up and organized. For anyone who missed it, I highly recommend jumping on the next one (check it out here) - it's a great place to ask questions, hear best practices, and exchange ideas. 

Ok, on to the main event. Without further ado, here are the folks on Team Catalog:

266986_pastedImage_1.jpg 

First up is Pert. Pert is a Senior Program Manager who's been at Instructure since 2016. What is a Program Manager? Great question! As Pert describes it, "I'm like that guy in Charlies Angels. A mysterious voice helping guide the way." Or in other words, Program Managers keep the team on course. They make sure everyone has the information they need, they keep their eyes out for future problems and help solve them when they crop up. Besides being an all-star Program Manager, Pert is fascinated by natural history and loves to photograph flora and fauna. Fun fact, she was once bit by a beluga whale.

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Next up we have Nick. Nick is a Software Engineer who works out of the Chicago office. He joined Instructure at the start of this year and previously interned here in 2016. He's a board game player who loves dogs, video games, and hitting the gym. Before he ventured into the world of software Nick was an electrical engineer. Nick is half of the dynamic duo responsible for doing the heavy lifting required to bring Catalog features to life.

267219_pastedImage_2.jpg

Neil is a Senior Software Engineer who joined Instructure in 2015 after working at some early-stage startups. He's a self-proclaimed enchilada enthusiast who enjoys talking about technology, cognitive psychology, and UX design. He grew up in the Bay Area but lives in Chicago now, where he is an avid board gamer, food processor, hardware hobbyist, and advocate for long walks in the freezing temperatures. Along with Nick, he works day in and day out to turn ideas into reality. 

267222_pastedImage_3.png

And then there's me! I'm the Product Manager for Catalog and I joined Instructure late last year. Before coming to Instructure I worked at a tech startup in the Higher Ed space and I have a German degree from the University of Utah. Like others on the team, I enjoy boardgames quite a bit and I love spending time with my wife and kiddos. My other hobbies include watching movies, reading technology blogs and building metal StarWars miniatures (yeah, it's as nerdy as it sounds). My role on the team is to making sure we know what we should build and why we should build it. 

So there you have it! Hopefully that helps you feel a tiny bit more connected to the Catalog team. And while these are all the introductions for today, I think it's important to mention that there are many other people impacting Catalog's progress. We've got QA Engineers, Designers, System Admins, Researchers, CSMs, and Support teams, just to name a few. You know that old saying, it takes a village to raise a child? That's certainly the case with Catalog, and I'm grateful for all the amazing people doing incredible work on the platform every day. 

Watch for my next blog post in March talking about the tech stack update that we're currently working on. We'll be tackling exciting topics like what NFRs are and why we're doing the tech stack work. Got questions about our backend work or other things you'd like me to discuss? Let me know in the comments! 

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Instructure
Instructure

Hello Catalog Users! (Cataolgites? Catalogians? What should we call ourselves??)  

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend. I'm posting today to give you an update on the status of Catalog and talk a bit about where we're headed. 

But first, let me just say how awesome all of your feedback has been as we look forward to resuming feature development on Catalog. Everything from the survey results to the community questions and discussions help us know what is most important for the community. Your participation has been incredible and I genuinely appreciate the passion you have for Catalog. Keep posting, keep asking, keep speaking up.

Ok, now on to the update. As many of you know, Catalog is in need of some under-the-hood updates. These won't be externally visible, but they'll pay huge dividends for us here internally. The goal was to begin work on these updates before the end of Q4. Unfortunately things have been pushed back a bit, and we're now thinking we'll be able to start on the internal work in January, with feature work commencing sometime in Q2. 

So that's where things are at. But despite the delay, we're crazy excited for where the product is headed and can't wait to make it even better. 

I'd also like to start doing more frequent updates for the community. I'm thinking monthly. While I can't change the timeline (believe me, I've tried), I can keep everyone up to speed on where we are at. I might not always have a ton to share, but I hope it helps everyone feel informed. Let me know if this is something you think would be valuable and how often you'd like to hear from me. 

Well, I guess that's all for now. Happy Cataloging! (Yeah, cataloging is a real word). 

Jon

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Community Member

How to support new instructors

This is of course my own perspective, based on first using Bb (boo hiss) and then migrating to Canvas.

  1. Get them into the institution's Canvas training ASAP.  Do this even if the user believes he/she won't need it.
  2. Be completely firm at all stages, "Thou shalt be a Canvas user!" Instructors need to hear this not just from eLearning but from administration, department chairs, fellow insructors, and even students (students are huge cheerleaders for Canvas)
  3. Establish the individual instructor's comfort level with basic Learning Management Systems.  Cross training from Bb/Moodle/D2L/Angel, etc. is much different from the instructor who has no familiarity with any system.  The complete newbie needs more foundational support.
  4. Have an example class and enroll instructors as teachers, so they can truly dig around and see how things are set up.  I've talked until positively blue explaining the difference between a page and an assignment, but just letting the instructor see a course in action resolved the question immediately.
  5. Be prepared to spend personal time with an instructor as a mentor.  For example, I offer new instructors 2 free hours of my time, either as 1 session or split into several small meetings to specifically help set up the class.  Generally, I do this with new full time instructors in my department, but I've also assisted full time instructors for other disciplines and our dual enrollment teachers.  They have the training offered by our excellent eLearning, and they know about all the Canvas resources, but mentoring can be very reassuring.
  6. Consider a "Playground" much like we have in this new group.  Here at PRCC, the Humanities and Social Sciences Department have a Playground, with a subset just for English.  Every instructor (full, adjunct, dual enrollment, online) has teacher privileges, so we can add, copy, amend information, quizzes, examples).  We have common forms, such as the office hours schedule and common handouts such as proofreading marks)..
  7. Constantly recommend the new instructors investigate Commons or search YouTube for methods or student guides. 

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