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Community Champion

Mitch Macfarlane, SVO of Product & Customer Experience Keynote

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Instructure focuses on developing an open, user-friendly, accessible and modern Canvas LMS


Mitch described Instructure’s service-oriented architecture for Canvas. An example is the new Quizzes 2 feature, which is an LTI rather than built-in to the system. Keeping a base system for Canvas and allowing apps & pulling/pushing data through LTI and API allows necessary fixes to one component that does not negatively affect the entire system. It also allows us to customize Canvas depending on our institutional needs.

He mentioned that there are consortium admin tools to allow multiple institutions to collaboratively deliver courses. There are also database upgrades and the use of “Deploy infrastructure” that results in developer efficiency and effectiveness (quicker testing and build time). Canvas development uses Ruby on Rails and React/Web Pack.

The Foundational Principles of Development

1. Open

2. User-friendly/usability

3. Accessible

4. Modern

Roadmap items under development

  • Master courses to lock content - individual course components can be locked for institutions that would like to ensure a uniform experience for students in a specific program or school.
  • Outcomes - Canvas is focusing on developing more user-friendly Outcomes features. If usability is improved, this feature will be very powerful in improving student learning!


This keynote confirmed my initial impression of Canvas when we first started to migrate from ANGEL last year. Using an open system that allows for development and customization provides educators with the ability to innovate. Online educators have been waiting for that type of flexibility for many years!


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