Once again we were stunned by another kumbayawesome InstructureCon! Fortunately the great sessions, ideas, and connections we made, can live on within our Canvas Community and in the InstructureCon 2016 community space! Remember that you can keep the conversation alive, around each breakout session, by adding comments! This is a great way to connect with the presenters and share thoughts/ideas with other participants.
Please be sure to take that survey that our marketing team sends out, so we can make instcon even better next year. That quantitative feedback is invaluable.
In addition we wanted to have an open discussion where you all can publicly share your qualitative thoughts and feedback about InstructureCon 2016!
Here's some things you might want to talk about: the sessions, the keynotes, the activities, the online schedule, the app, the booths, the venue, opportunities to connect, ideas for the Community Team to improve community interaction and engagement.
Thanks for your help Canvas Community... We ❤️ you!
Onward and upward!
PS... Don't forget to add all those kumbayawesome photos you took, to the Camp Canvas Photo Gallery...
In your responses please @mention other community friends or use the "Share" tool to encourage others to offer their feedback as well!
Let's kick off this discussion with some @mentions:
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These are great ideas. I do like the extended abstract. As for getting the slides in early, as you know this isn't an easy task. I have presented at 4 InstructureCons and this honestly was the best year for communicating with speakers. There was a speaker session beforehand and I think the majority of people got their slides in at least a day early.
As for having presentations ready beforehand, this is something I think is great for EDUCAUSE, OLC, and the more academic conferences, but I am continually getting great information from employees and users until the day I present. Plus I always throw in a few surprises because of the nature of this conference. I do think that all presenters should post their presentation by the end of the day (of their presentation) or at least the end of the conference. I always follow that rule.
Also, I think a more consistent way to share presentations in the community would be great for everyone.
Thanks of the kind words! You would have definitely like Keystone. You're name was ALL around the conference, so it was like you were there, but you were definitely missed by many. I send my best for you, your family, and the "little bundle of Jones joy". I can't wait to see you next year!
First off, the EdCamp/unconference was fantastic. It was well facilitated, and I had great discussions both during the formal sessions and on the side. It was also a nice way to connect with some people from other colleges around professional topics, then see them again later in the week and follow up.
The backpack: 'm not too big on swag; most of it goes to perks for faculty or tech support folks who do something special. But I'm keepin' the backpack. It's practical and nicely made.
Ski resort/outdoors location - I've enjoyed the ski resort/outdoors locations for the conferences. I think Keystone was a bit rough around the edges (see below), but the idea of getting away from it all to focus on a topic, and getting some fresh air to clear the head between sessions is great. I'll be sad when it ends up in Just Another Conference Center. And home if it ever lands in Vegas.
The app was really nice this year. The UX on the apps from previous years was rough, but this made it possible to go paperless, at least for those who had a smartphone. I agree with the earlier comments that a paper version on request would be helpful for those who are wi-fi only or don't have a smartphone.
Session tracks/levels - Several of my colleagues have mentioned this as well; some basic leveling would be nice. Even two levels - "Newb" and "Geek" or something like that would be helpful in picking sessions.
More concurrent sessions? - It would take a different kind of venue, maybe, but one possible way to make both tracks and the crowding issue easier would be more sessions at the same time. Also, we could probably thin out the keynotes a bit. I got the same info at the product keynote and the roadmap sessions.
Food allergies - This was a serious bummer. It took until Thursday morning before I could reliably find a meal. I was able to connect with the chefs, and they tried (shout-out to Stefan and Greg in catering), but this shouldn't be a difficult accommodation for a conference of several thousand people. Generally, some amount of creative menu planning, and some build-it-yourself options at every meal will cover it. I know that "At Canyons I could..." starts to sound like "In Angel I used to be able to..." a little, but they really did have it nailed. Not only was the food allergy area stocked with lots of ways to navigate around different food allergies, but they were quick on the draw for the one meal I couldn't eat. And the alternatives were *good* - like people in the regular food lines were jealous good - and that's kind of a nice change from the norm.
Room share was awkward - We sent a pretty good size team, but with the mix of arrival times and genders, we were only able to pair up two members of our team. There's only so much sharing that you can do in a professionally appropriate manner. Also, it was unclear who paid how much if one person in a share was there Mon-Fri, and another was there Tues-Thurs. I had funding to send one more person, but we couldn't find a room. Which leads me to...
Cost - This has been a very valuable conference over the years, so much so that we've sent big teams. However, it's getting pricey enough that I'm probably going to send a smaller team next year. I'm looking at total cost: registration is a lot for what amounts to two days, and lodging was super high, even accounting for the great location.
One last note that I heard and (at least in some low-light areas) experienced: The print on maps, schedules, etc was tiny and low contrast, making it hard to read, at least for those of us old enough to sign a travel requisition. Please consider readability over hip colors next year!
Scott, I really like your idea of clarifying the target audience. This year, I appreciated having the "tracks" - HE, K12, Admin - but to know the level or amount of experience would be very helpful when determining which session to attend.
I just wanted add that the hot rooms must have been building/suite specific as myself and two other members of our group had an end-of-building suite at Red Hawk and my room was freezing at night with the windows open (just the way I like it), and I did not hear any complaints from anyone else in our group. So, we must have just been lucky with our selection of rooms, or some buildings/suites are better than others.
I have another suggestion. I wonder if it is time for Instructure to start giving out awards and have a ceremony at InstructureCon. These could be formatted similarly (in terms of nominations and criteria) to OLC, DevLearn, Pearson Cite, etc. We can recognize distinguished accomplishment in online teaching, instructional technology, online administration, etc.
Here's the TLDR:
I loved the theme of the conference and learned a lot from the sessions. I'm not worried so much about moving to Canvas from Blackboard but I found the Keystone Resort unable to meet the needs of guests during and after their stay. I think going to a different location would be a good idea.
This was my first InstCon and I really enjoyed the conference. My institution will be migrating from Blackboard and I have had concerns about the move. After attending sessions (specifically the one about what it coming with the new quizzing tool) I feel much better about the move. I still have unanswered questions but I feel much better about the coming change. I am excited to get training for Canvas and be able to really dig in and play with the system to learn how to best use it for our program. Coming to the conference I did not know what to expect with Canvas. I really enjoyed the opening keynote by Josh Coates. I like the open door policy of the company and the attitude of we know we can't do everything so we're let others do the things that we can't.
My negatives have to do with the logistics of the resort and how the resort handled the issues that I had during and after my stay.
Billing: When we checked in on Monday I was told that they needed a credit card for incidentals, but when I gave them my card for incidentals, they charged the entire room to my personal card instead of the corporate card on file. They made me call my credit card company to have the charge taken off. Then on Saturday they charged my personal card again. I have left 3 voicemails and sent an e-mail but I have still not received a response from their billing office. They have refunded part of the charges they made to my personal card, but I haven't been able to actually speak to any one to find out why there are still charges.
The Room Itself: I shared a 2-bedroom condo with a colleague. Our first unit had one double bed, four bunk beds, no wifi, no phone, and a rather disturbing smell coming from the garbage disposal. When they moved us to a new unit we learned that our first unit wasn't owned by the resort itself which explains why it wasn't really ready to be used by anyone. On Tuesday I happened to be sitting at the dining room table of our second unit doing some work for the office when a nice gentleman walked in. At first I thought he was maintenance, but he was actually another guest who had been told that he and his colleagues would be staying where we were now staying. Condo Registration had given him keys to get into our unit. I have no idea what would have happened if I hadn't happened to be there when he arrived.
Transportation: As others have mentioned, the Orange Route was not reliable. It was supposed to run every 20 minutes but several times it was running 20 minutes late. When I called the transportation number I was routinely told that the bus would be there in a few minutes. I was also told that the orange route is the longest and the hardest to keep on schedule. When I asked if they could maybe put another bus on the route I was told there were no available drivers, even through I had seen at least 2 on call shuttles go by while I was waiting. I found it very frustrating that the bus stops didn't have any signs with the name of the bus stop. It took me a day and a half to learn the name of the bus stop that I needed to get back to my unit.
There are other comments that have already been made about conference room size, food, and spotty wifi that I also agree with so I won't elaborate on that.
The content and the theme of the conference was great and I learned a lot, but the venue was a disappointment.
Many good comments. We all had a fantastic time and appreciate all the planning, coordination, Herculean efforts, extra innings, etc. that it took to give us this opportunity to learn, unwind, and connect. Again, many thanks!
To add a request: for the deeper rooms, ask the audio-visual crew to have an additional pair of speakers positioned at the half way point. While I could try to sit up front near the pair of speakers instead of in the back, the downside is then I may not get out of the room fast enough so as to be able to get a seat in the next session...