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What in the world does “Khaki” have to do with Canvas?

Community Team
Community Team
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In addition to being a fellow textile, ‘“Khaki,” as in “Project Khaki,” is an event in which a diverse group of community members were invited to Instructure headquarters to talk face-to-face with Product and Engineering Teams about allocating 20% of Instructure’s engineering budget to Project Khaki priorities.  Khaki premiered in 2015 as a way to put Canvas users in the driver's seat of prioritizing a piece of Canvas feature development, and its success led to a second event of equal gravity. So now that it’s become a thing, we’re going to take a little liberty with language and verbify the word Khaki.


Who attended Khaki?

Regularly active community members, whose contributions are often influential, were initially considered. From there, the selection process wasn’t easy; it’s like asking a parent which child they favor. The Community Team, along with the Customer Experience and Product Teams, put their heads together to select a group that would most broadly represent Canvas users by region, role and institution type. Eventually, this awesome group of admins, teachers and course designers across K12 and higher ed sectors were invited. (Community members outside the continental US were not able to be included this year because of logistics challenges, but will be included in the future!).


How does one “Khaki”?

One thing we’ve learned about these events: there’s no standard way to ‘khaki’. While the overarching theme has been the same, each event has been uniquely different.


Project Khaki attendees arrived on the scene with some homework already completed (yes, we give out homework). They were asked to review and consider the following list of 50 Canvas feature ideas, which were to be the starting point for the day's conversations.


CEO Josh Coates kicked off the event with a warm “panda” welcome, followed by Mitch Benson, VP Product Management, and Chris Hunter, Sr. Director Product Management, who provided a detailed overview of all-things-product-development - from ‘“what is agile?” to “how we do things at Instructure”. With immense knowledge swirling in their brains, the Khaki attendees were asked to apply what they learned and allocate their votes on their homework ideas.


Attendees were given 5 stickers and asked to cast their votes (only one sticker per idea please!). The top twelve (plus 3 tied for 13th place) were selected. The Product Team selected 8 of these ideas for further exploration. Each idea was assigned a team that included one Product Manager and Engineer. Attendees joined a team and together wrote out objectives and developed a scope with defined outcomes. As attendees quickly realized, creating a project plan that meets the needs of everyone in the group--as well as the majority of Canvas users--was quite a daunting task. Some teams experienced the struggles of compromise; others contentiously worked through disagreements.  No matter how the teams got to their end result, they all agreed that the process was exciting and surprisingly hard. (And this is what our Product Teams do regularly!)


Instructure does not just pay lip-service to this [Customer Focused] concept. They clearly demonstrated, over and over again, how much they pay attention to the Canvas Community (that in itself is the best evidence of a customer focus). Then they fly 40 of us down … [and]... make available what seemed like two-dozen or more highly paid staff members for a day. Then, they didn't just solicit suggestions and listen with polite boredom. Instead they let us actively participate in the allocation of  a significant portion of their product development budget. -  @kmeeusen 


...we felt like our brains ran a marathon, but we had a lot of content covered and a great start for the Dev team to jump up and start on. What were we left with? About 100 sprints worth of awesome that will take us all the way to InstructureCon 2018. - Deactivated user was so cool to get to talk to even more Canvas engineers at Top Golf! For example, I had a great convo with Mark who has been working on quizzes, so when that launches, I will recognize in that product the work and commitment and vision of someone I connected with in person. - laurakgibbs


Where do I find Khaki Progress?

Progress on Khaki priorities will be communicated throughout the community. For all Project Khaki updates, check out (or follow) the Khaki Priority List . But also follow Canvas Studio  and Release Notes  for general product updates. If you’re interested in individual Khaki-related ideas, click “follow” to receive updates on those separately.


What can I expect next?

  • We will scope and sequence the Khaki priorities to fit the greater roadmap.
  • We will take the list of Khaki priorities and the 20% budget allocation and build the best possible solutions.  
  • We will follow the process, currently in the Canvas Studio space, by requesting your feedback and testing and sharing updates throughout the development stages.  
  • We will NOT share every detail of each priority as they move through the development process.


How can I “Khaki”?

Remember how we said that we were going to verbify “khaki”? Well, now YOU can “khaki” too! In the Khaki Priority List you will find an official tag linked to related ideas and discussions for each priority. To keep these priorities organized, here’s what you can do:

  • Avoid “kitchen sink” (all-inclusive) discussions.
  • Vote on individual and singular ideas within a priority. This helps product teams define the elements that are important.
  • Comment on existing related ideas. Your feedback qualifies these ideas further.
  • Create a new idea. (Please use the official priority tag)!


So, even if you “don’t_even_wear_Khaki”, we hope that you’ll jump in and contribute to this effort in making Canvas more awesome, or at least follow our progress! Thank you again to the Khaki 2017: Attendees  and our Product and Engineering teams. But mostly; thank you, Canvas Community, for your enthusiasm! These initiatives would not be possible without such a dynamic and active place.

Community Champion

Thanks for including this in the Canvas Studio area,  @Renee_Carney ‌! That sounds like a great way to share the information widely and tie discussion of these features in with the rest of Canvas development moving forward. Super!!!

And Khaki is a tag now, so that's perfect: I'll be sure to use the Khaki tag and reshare to Studio if/when I write blog posts related to the evolving Khaki project. 🙂

Community Contributor

Thanks for adding in the 50 feature ideas - really interested to see what happens with the mastery dashboard and outcome integration.  @david_summervi1 ‌

Community Participant

Hmmm, impressive list of enhancements - I do think Canvas need to buy-out Cidilabs! 

Community Contributor

Yes - I agree with that too. One price for both pakages  @david_summervi1 ‌