A few weeks back I got an email stating that I was invited to a mysterious event called “Khaki 2.0” from Instructure. My immediate gut instinct was “Either this is spam or it was supposed to go to the previous LMS admin before me and I just got it forwarded to my email since their inbox got joined with mine.” I quickly checked the recipient and realized it was addressed directly to me. I ignored the offer until another email came soon after asking for an RSVP. I was still thinking I wasn’t important enough to be invited to a meeting where all the head honcho’s of Canvas Product Management and Engineers gathered in a room, so I said “Unable to make it” and moved on with work and life.
About a week later, I got an email from @scottdennis asking why I wouldn’t be making it and confessed I didn’t think it was actually intended for me and that I was unclear about what this event really even was. He quickly dispelled my insecurities reassuring me that everyone was here from various institutions and breadth of experience. I let him know I’d have to see if my manager would take it as a Professional Development day and get back. My manager quickly agree’d that he’d love to see me take this opportunity so with that, the Khaki 2.0 journey began.
Why are people wearing Khaki?
Khaki 2.0 (1.0 was held in 2015. See @kona post about all the fun here!) was the name for the second meeting of especially active community members to gather at the Instructure Headquarters in Salt Lake City for a day long Product Development Meet on Initiatives that Instructure has on the table, new ones that we’ve been shouting about for a while in the Feature requests, and how we should prioritize the Engineer / Product Manager workload. The daunting process of how they create these Software initiatives and the processes they take to launch them were explained to us at the onset.
How does a Feature become part of the Canvas family?
The Canvas Product Development Life-cycle has several stages, but determining what goes through that stage looks like this: (Khaki 2.0 only focused on the top two points. Discover the opportunities and Design an idea to help outwork the solution. )
Discover – What problem or opportunity are we trying to solve? What is success?
Design – How will we solve this to achieve success?
Develop & Test – Create and test the solution. Iterate to find balance to achieve success
Release – Prepare for public release of the solution
Evaluate – Determine if success was achieved.
Now bear in mind, as much as we’d want to wave a magic wand and make a product happen in 24 hours, unless you’ve got Harry Houdini in your back pocket, it’s not going to happen. At least, not on the Canvas-wide scale that we’ve come to know and love. They estimate their workload in a term called a “Sprint”. In the Canvas world, 1 “Sprint” is equal to about 3 weeks and 2 Engineers worth of work. The Development team can usually see 2-3 Sprints ahead on any given project. (can you imagine working 3 weeks straight on the same project for 8 hours a day? That's massive and that's why I give major Kudos to all our Software Dev friends out there!)
What was the Outcome?
They gave us a pretty daunting mission. Out of these some 30 odd Feature Ideas and Initiatives, pick your top 5 to vote on that you’d like to see move forward. Did I mention we had 20 minutes to place our votes?
With some persuading and research from others, I carefully placed my initiatives and waited to hear back about the outcomes shortly after we started eating lunch. (Café Rio FTW!)
They called out the top 15 voted on ideas and after some deliberation between the Engineers, narrowed it down to 8 focus groups. They gave 1 Topic to each Product Manager in the room. Everyone divided up into which initiative they wanted to contribute to, and so we began the arduous task of fleshing out these ideas and how they could help Canvas users.
Let me tell you, this was not as easy as it sounds. My team consisted of some top notch people who knew a thing or two about Data! We were attacking the initiative regarding Advanced Reporting. (Holla! oxana for corralling all of our crazy thoughts into logic and @straussi , faustj1, @stephensda , @abunag , awilliams, @paul_goodenough , @kmeeusen , @jacob_standish and I think you were in there too, mikescheid? for being part of the madness! I know I'm missing people, please let me know who!) Narrowing it down to those affected and the bare framework of the topic took up most of our time. We had to get all this info down on one sheet and present it in under 6 minutes in front of the rest of the group by the end of the day. Thus, advocating the Learn and Teach method.
After all presentations, we felt like our brains ran a marathon, but we had a lot of content covered and a great start for the Dev team to jump up and start on. What were we left with? About 100 sprints worth of awesome that will take us all the way to InstructureCon 2018.
This opportunity was incredible. Meeting the faces of the Community and all Instructure Staff was great. Being let in on the process of how these opportunities come to pass was incredible, and sharing the floor with some real sharp shooting Admin, Teacher and Developers was an honor.
SLC, UT (I work for Instructure as a K-12 Account Development Manager)
Interests: Technology, Music (listening, playing, advocating!), Audio Production, Pirates, Tattoos and have a soft spot for most any nerd-dom.
<3 Cats, Graphic Design & Mexican Food.