I like the idea of keeping an ongoing blog about InstructureCon this year - a digital repository of my thoughts on keynotes, sessions, and the general experience of InstructureCon. Although I am definitely a paper-pen note taker at the moment, having a space to come back and summarize will be helpful.
Disclaimer: The following are just my thoughts as the week progressed of keynotes and sessions. Not trying to start any type of major debate; just sharing my takeaways and thoughts.
Keynote - I had some pretty strong reactions to the keynote, to be honest. While I enjoyed the history of Instructure (and those amazing marketing videos. I would pay for a copy of those!), there were just some offhand comments and general conversation that rubbed me the wrong way. Some throwaway comments that may have been for a laugh, but didn't quite add up to the opening speech for InstCon. But... that's just me.
Keynote - Adora Svatik
I have so much appreciation for what Adora spoke on. She offered a unique experience and comments on her thoughts on the state of education. While some may have considered her thoughts a little political, education is inherently political. The idea of raising up a generation of educators that are not willing to accept what they are given as the status quo is both absolutely spot on and difficult. We want to pass on traditions while pushing them to pursue new grounds and fight for their rights. So it's tricky, in my mind. But Adora truly highlighted those thoughts well.
Session 1 - Concept Based Data Analysis
This was a great session, but it wasn't what I expected. Sometimes that's a good thing. In this session, the presenter focused mainly on the idea of if the course design process is done correctly by aligning videos and assignments to course objectives, then data analysis is a little easier. There was not a lot of discussion of how the visualization was done (which is what I wanted), but a good discussion of the why's and what's, which is equally helpful.
Takeaway - I really need to get into the data visualization game. Being able to take data and visualize it outside of the numbers is a necessary component, so goal one: play with Power BI more than I have! (Also, if you don't know about High Charts, they are equally fascinating.)
Session 2 - Pit of Curiosities
This session was one of my favorites. It highlighted some accessibility features as well as focusing on great course design. One of the main things I smacked my forehead about was the discussion on image padding. In the RCE, you can pad an image so it will appear correctly with the text around it. This is so much better than using a table. Genius.
Takeaway: First, accessible content does not have to be boring! Any ID worth their salt knows this to be true but putting it into practice... well. That's a little different. Lots of great material was shared, but the best part was a digital goodie bag of all the fun stuff discussed. Here's the link: Accessible Goodie Bag
Keynote - Jared Stein
I missed some of this one, but the stories of how Canvas is being used throughout the country and the world to reach underprivileged or underrepresented groups are amazing. The ability to go to new places and to continue to be committed to the student experience is what sets Canvas apart in the LMS world. I hope that vision is never lost.
Session 3 - Analytics II
Masha Chase did an awesome job in this session. One of my favorite quotes from this session is the goal behind Analytics II is to receive the "right info at the right time to make teaching easier." That's what we want! The interactive visualizations that will allow you to compare and drill down data live from the course navigation are going to be great. What I LOVED about this presentation, though, was its openness. Canvas knows what it has currently, it knows where it wants to go, but if there isn't a timeline, then no timeline is given. You can keep up with Analytics 2 in the Idea space of the community here: Analytics 2.
Takeaway: There are some great analytics coming. We (as users) need to be patient and wait for them all to come to fruition. Share ideas in the Community about what you want to see in the Analytics. For me - showing the Page Views + Participation charts are going to be course altering additions. I can't wait.
Session 4 - Canvas Mobile Apps
So Ryan Seilhamer and Kenneth Rogers led an AMAZING session on Canvas Mobile. And, they knew how to get a competition going. So much so that #InstCon was the number 5 trending hashtags that day. Largely (I think) due to the 300+ tweets from that one session. In fact, I have no notes written about this session because I was too busy tweeting. Good thing they already put up their slides in the Community! Check them out, as they have a great look back over the history of Canvas Mobile apps and what is now available. Here's the link: Canvas Mobile Apps
Takeaway: The best comment from this session that has stuck with me is the idea that mobile does an excellent job of facilitating a course. An instructor should use the computer for the 10% of the course that is design. After that, the 90% of the course that is facilitation can be done through the mobile app.
Session 5 - Track Faculty Engagement
This session was a great look at how data is tracked in a course, and how before looking at data, one needs to ask specific questions. I know that's one of my biggest struggles with Canvas Data. I need to know the questions to ask before I start pulling random numbers.
This session was also a great reminder that data should be viewed over time. The power of data is not in its one-time spike but in its pattern. Patterns are what establish behaviors that can be addressed. If we react to every one-time incident, then we lose the ability to think objectively about the situation.
Takeaway: The session included the exact SQL queries the presenter was using. This was really helpful. Some of these are from the SIS, but it's still a good starting point.
Hack Night - Kenneth Larsen is amazing. And I'm not going to lie. I kinda fanboyed a little bit after we left. And I think that's okay.
Keynote - Michael Bonner
Five things that push us to make changes in education:
Session 1 - Embedding Content
Sean Nufer led a great session on embedding content and some of the tools available. While I knew about most of the tools (because I watched his Ed-Tech Round-Ups), the conversations in the room gave me some really great ideas. Like using Padlet as an introductory discussion board. Changing some infographics with ThingLink so they become more interactive. Using an outside video as the starting point for a FlipGrid. And ALL of these tools are embeddable?? Yes.
Also, H5P.com. This is course-changing stuff right there.
Here's the link to the course he created for our discussion: Embedding Content Course
Here's the link to the slides created about the course: Embedding Content Slides
Takeaways - SO MANY THINGS. Courses can be so much more than just text on a page. This session was a great reminder of that truth and a great way to think through some ways to make courses better.
Session 2 - Effective Canvas for Face to Face Instructors
This was a great session for me to hear more from Face to Face instructors about how they are using Canvas in their classrooms. While Canvas is great for learning, it's also useful in the classroom. We talked mostly about using Canvas as ways to help monitor participation in class and how the SpeedGrader can change mindsets about grading. I would have liked a deeper discussion about using Canvas appropriately, but this presenter brought up a good point: we aren't talking a lot about using Canvas face to face. And we should.
Takeaways - We started by talking about problems F2F instructors deal with. I want to take this question back to my institution and ask our instructors to share. That way, I can help them see ways to use Canvas to solve some of those problems.
Keynote - Mitch Benson
Product Management - Discovery - Ideas - Models - Testing - (Loop as needed) - World
Session 3 - Hall of Mirrors: Feedback
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend this session due to a meeting with a vendor. Yay for partnership conversations. Boo for missing a session. I'll update this after I watch the video.
Session 4 - Energize Your Class with Student-Centered Design
I really wanted to attend this encore session of Kona Jones's Student-Centered Design. But, I was still in meeting with the vendor. So, I'll update this after I watch the video. In the meantime, here are the slides: Student-Centered Design Presentation
Session 5 - Canvas Course Razzle Dazzle
This session was a lot of great fun. I always like when people marry theory and practice. Just makes me happy. Moving on, this course talked about some different tools that are useful (like Canva, H5P, Lunapic, Icon Archive, etc.). It also talked about the importance of developing consistent course templates, especially for courses that follow a specific pattern. The presenters shared a course that was developed to highlight these discussions: Canvas Course Razzle Dazzle
Takeaway - Seriously, how did I not know about H5P? I feel like I'm out of the loop. Otherwise, this session has helped me rethink the way I do templating. So, that's a huge step in the right direction.
This was one of the highlights of the conference for me. 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. So, here's a quick rundown of the conversations I had:
This conference was great. There were a couple of things that could have been done better, sure. But honestly? Great conference. Great content. Great swag. Great conversations. And LOTS of takeaways. I cannot wait for the rest of the sessions to be posted so I can curate my own playlist. Thanks, Canvas, for doing a great job. Keep it up.
Text wrapping around images is easy, but adding padding or creating non-tabular columns requires HTML knowledge.
To wrap the image:
To add padding (if you don't want to go into Paint/Photoshop and add a white/transparent border to the edges):
I don't have hands-on experience with CidiLabs, but if your institution has that, you may be able to use one of their design toolbars to add the padding without having to use HTML. (maybe)
For non-tabular columns, more in-depth HTML knowledge is required. Feel free to reach out to me, if you'd like more information on that.
Hope this helps.