Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

InstCarn Recap: Day 4 - Unconference


If you have never been to an Unconference, change that! Don't miss this great opportunity to keep the #instcon conversation going.

Session Notes

I must confess that I intended to take notes throughout the Unconference, but as things unfolded I found myself too engaged to take notes. I will do my best to recap my experience.


I started this morning early, thinking that how nice it would be to walk the path from River Run over to Lakeside Village. It was a pleasant walk and great time to enjoy the morning stillness. As I reached the Mountain House area and had just thought how I was making good progress since I knew this was about the half way point,  I walked up to a bus that had stopped. I waved them off saying I was enjoying my morning walk. Then I thought it would be a good opportunity to make sure I was on the right path and casually asked, "This is the way to Lakeside Village, right?" To my surprise, the bus driver said, "No, you are heading toward River Run if you keep going that way." This was all I needed to hear and I decided quickly to take the offer to ride the shuttle the rest of the way.

Once I got to Keystone Lodge & Spa where the Unconference was being held, I grabbed breakfast and more importantly coffee. As I was enjoying socializing and finishing up my coffee,  @kona ‌ was handing out post-it notes for each of us to write down anything that we wanted to get out of the days activities. Fortunately, I had read What is an Unconference? and Why should YOU attend the InstructureCon 2018 Unconference?, so I came with a plan of the things I wanted to learn more about.

As the post-its were being organized, we had a Keynote presentation given by Deactivated user‌ on "The UX Research Smörgåsbord". This was a fascinating dive into understand what UX Research is and how Instructure uses this to try and determine the most efficient ways for them to design products.

After the Keynote was wrapped up, we were presented with the session breakdown.


Here is where I went:

Session 1 - Quizzes.Next

I started my session diving into Quizzes.Next which was facilitates by the wonderful  @dlyons ‌. While it was intended to be an open forum, it seemed to quickly turn into a Q&A about when certain features would reach parity with Quizzes Classic or when & how Quizzes Classic would be deprecated. David handled the tension extremely well and was very open and honest about the process.

Session 2 - Ask James

I was really hoping to use this session to just sit back and listen to the other things that people were asking  @James ‌, Master of Canvancements. This session was very loose and I actually found myself sharing some of the cool things my school has done with the open source version of Kennethware 2.0 and a few other helpful snippets of code with mckinneyj

Session 3 - Canvas Features (Wish List)

This session was really cool, and I really tried not to take over the session but there are several features that we have been wanting for a while. Deactivated user, graciously took down all of the suggestions that the group made. I get an F on retaining the features suggested by other :smileycry:.

However many of the ones I pushed forward have feature requests already. Here are the ones I mentioned during the session. 

The other thing I brought up was that in the Canvas for Teacher App, teachers are not able to view & grade Graded Group Discussion posts. 

Hopefully, someone else from the session could comment on some of the other ideas that were mentioned.

After the session ended, I grabbed my boxed lunch, said my goodbyes and headed out to meet my family for a trip to the stables for a horseback riding activity.

I would like to thank  @kona ,  @kenneth_rogers ‌, Deactivated user‌ and everyone else who helped put the Unconfernece together. 

*All of the content here is from my live session notes or straight from my memory. This means that I may miss something or be mistaken in my content. Please feel free to add to, put in context, or correct any mistakes by using the comments below. 

7 Replies
Community Champion

For the sake of disclosure, no one mentioned "Ask James" on their post it notes. There was a pile of technical things: API, LTI, Canvancements, etc., and someone, probably  @kona , decided to call it "Ask James". It wasn't a total surprise since we had joked about it in the Spring as we were trying to figure out what would happen at the Unconference, but suspecting that you're going to be being singled out as an expert doesn't make it any less discomfortable.

I was really pleased with how that session turned out. The people there just kind of organically started sharing with each other and organizing into groups without me as I helped a few people. That was good to see because the Community isn't about one person having all the answers (there isn't one of those), it's about everyone helping each other out with what they do know.

Thanks go to  @stuart_ryan ‌ for also helping answer people's technical questions. His document Canvas APIs: Getting started, the practical ins and outs, gotchas, tips, and tricks is an essential read for those interested in using the API.

Coach Emeritus

Excellent summary! Thank you for sharing!

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Thanks for your run down,  @mjennings ‌! While I appreciate you thanking me for helping put on the Unconference, really, it wouldn't be a successful event without wonderful people showing up with excellent ideas. It's truly a crowd-sourced event run by the people!

The following quote from  @akinsey ‌'s InstCon Repository Blog is still resonating with me when thinking about how awesome the Unconference was.

Having a place to sit and collaborate with others was extremely helpful. While I enjoyed the sessions, those are presentations. Not conversations. And, like we always say, real learning happens in the conversation.


Thanks for the kind words  @mjennings ! I enjoyed presenting about UX research and participating in the Unconference conversations. Here are my (mostly) unedited notes from the "Canvas Wish List" session:

  • Explaining the why for feature changes helps Canvas admins and advocates to drive acceptance and engagement. They need a story to tell. (They feel the material they get from Instructure doesn't do this...)
  • Overlap between mastery, outcomes, non-scoring rubrics, etc. What are the differences? Are these features trying to meet the same need? Wish I didn't have to learn the difference if they are similar...
  • Dues dates on peer review, milestone dates within an assignment (first draft due, etc.), multiple due dates...
  • Enable editing in calendar UI. Have a view only default state. People make accidental changes just trying to review it. Accidentally moving on mobile especially.
  • Audit trail for calendar changes (created by, edited by)--because of weird (possibly accidental) changes. Need accountability.
  • Surveys -- truly anonymous (currently a toggle--in Q.Next already?). Set a limit on multiple answer. ("Mark your top three -- votes.") Medical school's desired question types missing. Multiple people report this... Partial credit questions... Branching logic...
  • Campus-wide dates for calendar. (Workaround -- enrolled everyone in a course with those dates associated, as observers. But it can be a messy hack if you're already doing similar things for freshmen, grad students, etc. Lots of bogus "courses" just so you can get a calendar for a group of people.)
  • Transition between semesters -- would be nice to have one place to just change the dates. Everything else is the same... (There's a Canvancement that does this... but it's for power users.)
  • Attendance and role call -- would like to have the same names. Consistency... Also course code vs short name (what we call it).
  • Cross-listing vs joint offering. Variations of combining sections/courses, etc. Institution pulls in all as separate courses rather than sections. But it's hard to merge courses together. Lots of hairy workarounds...
  • Word "cross-listing" is used differently. (We call Canvas cross-listing but really using it as a merge / sections / etc. ) And it has bad side effects. "Cross-listing" elsewhere means something else -- the same classroom experience gives credit differently based on the student (major, grad/undergrad, etc.) Need a "consolidate into sections" function.
  • Teachers aren't automatically in groups, can't see group discussions on mobile.

So nice to see you here, Deactivated user‌! And of course the Community is also a place where you could recruit eager Canver users for UX research. 🙂

Thanks for adding this Deactivated user!

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

I'm late to this train, but like  @kenneth_rogers said, if it weren't for the people giving the topics, we wouldn't have unconference! This is a great wrap up on all the awesomeness that went down. Thank You for always being a boss and giving your all when it comes to being at InstructureCon and being present with the sessions and users. You rock!