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Community Team
Community Team

Ask Technology & Engineering Leadership

Presentation Blog


Presentation Title

“Ask Technology & Engineering Leadership” has been a popular and highly attended session at InstCon for the past 2 years, so let’s do it again.  This session is your opportunity to ask your burning questions of Instructure’s engineering leadership team.

Who's on the panel?

Deactivated user, VP of K12 Strategy
 @jared , VP of Higher Education Strategy
Deactivated user, VP of Quality Assurance
 @mloble , SVP of Customer Success & Partnerships
 @sptownsend , VP of Canvas Engineering

What question topics can they cover?

  • Technical direction—APIs, Data access, standards, open source, micro-services, mobile, events/async notification
  • State of the art development and operations protocols: Amazon Web Services, security, ensuring quality and reliability, code deploys, monitoring and alerting
  • Product strategy
  • Availability, accessibility, and platform performance

How can I participate?

This year, just like years prior, you'll have the opportunity to submit your questions in advance, as well as vote on submitted questions that you’d like to see answered. Here’s how:

Submit a Question:

  1. Read the question examples below, then construct your own.
  2. Post your question as a comment to this thread

Vote on a question you’d like answered:

About one week before InstructureCon we will post a survey of all questions. You’ll be able to rank the questions listed by importance to you.

Attend the Session:

Check the schedule for the time, date, and location—and we look forward to seeing you there!


What are some question examples?

The leadership panel is a high-level strategy conversation that is not intended to address tactical questions about specific product development. So what are some examples of strategic, high-level questions? Here’s a few:

Strategic: Why do you release as frequently as you do?

Overly tactical: Our school needs you to release code every 6 weeks instead of 3; will you make that change, please?

Strategic: I hear you guys do hackweeks. What is it and what has come from it?

Overly tactical: Will you please assign one of your engineers to develop [this one feature] during their hackweek?

Strategic: I hear a lot about cyber attacks around the world. What does Instructure do to prevent unauthorized access? Have there been any breaches?

Overly tactical: How do I sign up to participate in your Bug Crowd hacking program?

Strategic: How much money and time do you spend on R&D? How much is spent on new features? How much on maintenance? How much on HigherEd? How much on K12?

Overly tactical: How many engineers do you have on the Gradebook project?

Strategic: How do you prioritize and allocate resources for your product roadmap?

Overly tactical: Why isn’t Quizzes.Next at parity with Canvas quizzes yet?

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InstructureCon 2019

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29 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

This sounds like it will be a fascinating session  @Renee_Carney ‌ and Team. Good on you all for being so open about what happens behind the scenes. 

Thanks,  @Bobby2 .  Let us know if you have a question, or even a few, that you'd like answered.

Community Participant

We know that many of our students, particularly disadvantaged students, are mobile-only or mobile-first, so a tool that doesn't include mobile on equal footing is a non-starter on our campus. Why weren't interactions from mobile included in Analytics 2 when it was first released? And when will they be included? How are decisions about releasing product that's mobile-ready (or not) made?

Great question, Marc.  I added it to our list.

Community Champion


This is a great set of questions that many would like clear answers to.

The closest thing I've seen is a series of answers to questions about reporting and mobile activity that was given June 11-13, 2019, by Kevin Turco, Director of Product - Data and Analytics.

  1. How exactly is "Page Views" calculated.
  2. Are Mobile App page views included?
  3. Exactly how is "Total Activity" time on the People web page calculated?
Community Participant

I think the specifics in that thread are a great start to the answer. One take-away is that mobile is hard. I get that, and it raises the larger question around balancing "hard to do" and "worth doing" when building out features in Canvas. Mobile is a Big Deal, so is it worth the effort (which means hours and funds, of course) to be mobile-first with features? I think I'd like to hear more about the philosophy that drives decisions like that. 

Community Champion

Agreed. Those answers still left me with a lot of questions, which is why I thought yours were great ones to ask.

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

I have a question! 

Given the nature of feature ideas and voting up for product development, how are you prioritising development ideas to Canvas that support the different and unique education standards across newer, smaller customer bases (based on your recent rapid global growth) that are potentially competing with ideas of your most extensive customer base in North America?

Hey  @jayde_colquhoun 

Thanks for the question. Adding it to our list.

Right now we don't have anyone directly from Product on this panel, but we'll be sure to ask if this can be addressed.