Rule 32: Enjoy the Little Things—Encouraging Student Success

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“Enjoy the little things.”

- Tallahassee Zombie Land

Education is difficult. Tests, stress, books, knowing where classes are, balancing a million activities, and now doing it from your living room with your mom on a con-call, your little brother tugging on your leg and a cat who desperately wants to get onscreen with your class at the worst possible time. It’s difficult and stressful, and we want to help.


Being relatively new to Canvas, I’ve been talking to a lot of Educators, Administrators and Students over the past several months. I’ve learned so much, and it’s been amazing as users share their lives with me, the wins, the losses, the difficulties and the successes.


One thing was a bit of a surprise to me, students regularly rank Canvas lower in satisfaction than teachers and educators do. At first I was puzzled by the discrepancy, until you realize what is going on: Canvas is an educational platform. It was built to make the job of teaching easier. It doesn’t focus as much on the process of consuming that teaching.


Canvas provides a place to deliver and manage the content, courses and the ideas that are central to the educational process. It’s not built to help the student directly. It’s a place where they have to go do the hard work of learning those ideas.


It’s a place where they go to do homework, take tests and be judged on performance, it’s where they submit assignments. In many ways it acts as an extension of the authority of the school. Of course they will enjoy it less than the teachers do!


Canvas has focused hard on hosting, managing and delivering content, we make creating, tracking and grading possible, but we haven’t had too many opportunities to manage that process better. We enable the educational process, but we don’t guide it, or facilitate it in any way.


We want canvas to be more than just a system of record. We would like Canvas to be a trusted ally in the educational process, a friend in learning. We want to make sure things don’t get missed, that teachers and students are aware of important things that are happening, we want to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks. We want to make life easier. We want students and teachers to get a distinct feeling that Canvas has your back! That we’re there to help, and let you focus on the learning itself, and not the tool.


The writer James Baldwin said: 

“The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you can alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change the world."

In these challenging times, it’s important to remember to focus on each other, it’s important to celebrate the successes we achieve. Research tells us that a tiny bit of encouragement at the right time can cause tremendous change and makes us want to try for more.


As a team we want to do more to celebrate success and encourage the learning process and increase student engagement. Two of our core corporate values are Customer Experience and Excellence. We want to do as much as we can as a team to encourage these traits in ourselves and others.


Canvas is going to work to improve the product and the educational experience and do more to encourage and guide the process in small ways—giving users more control over their notifications, integration with new chat tools to improve communications with classmates and others, and improving the User Experience and making it more simple and clean.


One of the things I’m most excited about is a simple feature celebrating on-time assignments. When a student submits an assignment on time, they are congratulated for their work and getting it submitted on time. This is a small and simple act that acknowledges and rewards their success.


Feature Background

Some have asked if our new celebration act is superfluous, but as we’ve talked to hundreds of students and educators, many of them mentioned that one of the things they love about Canvas is the personality we bring, and how much we care about students and the educational process. We want to do more of that. If something is difficult, little moments of delight or satisfaction help tremendously.


In discussing this idea among the engineering team, we thought it would encourage good behavior, motivate students to do well, and hopefully reduce the load on teachers and reduce stress in the process. As it turns out, one of the things teachers like doing the least is dealing with the fallout of late assignments, such as chasing students down, and reducing scores due to tardiness. Getting stuff in on time makes life easier for everyone, so encouraging positive behavior is a good thing.


One of the great things about Instructure is each engineer has some time budgeted to work on personal development, skill improvement, or to work on innovation projects that are outside the normal stream of work. A couple of engineers decided to build a prototype of a celebration project with their personal development time to test how students would respond to this idea. This project was done outside the time allotted for our regular roadmap development tasks. Sometimes personal development projects are based on an engineer’s desire to build something specific that will make a difference to our customers, which was the case with the celebration discussion. This project happened to come together very quickly and we started showing it to students.


Feature Research

Students often express a desire to make education more engaging and fun. The assignment celebration feature was a small test we ran based on the science that says the more you encourage or reward an act, the more of that act you tend to see. We want to provide little moments of reward or satisfaction when students are doing the right things.


Originally we thought this feature would be more useful for younger children in the K-12 school as college students are more mature, or “too cool” for something as simple as a “good job” for submitting an assignment on time.

I recently had the opportunity to spend time with some amazing students at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem. Their project was to improve the feedback process from Students into the Canvas Product team. Students want a voice in their educational system and have a lot of really great ideas to make their time in Canvas more productive, easier, and sometimes even fun. One of the central themes was making education more fun and engaging.

I showed them the prototype for the celebrations feature to get some feedback, and they loved it. Even the massive football linebacker in the class, who I thought would be the least likely to care about something as simple as a “good job”. 


Feature Results

Our feedback and research (not all mentioned here) suggested we can release assignment celebrations to the masses. We want to encourage more on-time submissions (no garden gnomes if you are late!). We want Canvas to have your back and have students be a more active participant in the educational process. If a student hates joy, they can disable it. (There are some students—I know, it’s hard to imagine), but for the rest, submitting an assignment on time should bring a little burst of happiness and a feeling of satisfaction that’s a lot more fun than just “assignment submitted”. 

Other applications are also incorporating more happiness into their products. A popular list-making application, Trello, also includes a way to add a celebratory emoji to a completed column and produces celebration confetti when a task is complete. Users of this application are able to control this action and incorporate it because they find it brings them joy.


Like Tallahassee said, in the training film “Zombie Land”, it’s Ok to “Enjoy the little things”.


If we can’t enjoy the little things, and celebrate the successes, what can we enjoy?


Stay safe, stay healthy in this new and challenging time, and as always, we welcome your feedback. We live to help make people better, smarter, and happier, and we love spending time with our users and hearing their stories.


Matt Meservey

Canvas Product Team

Tags (2)
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi Deactivated user , and thank you for posting this blog! It points out and reiterates the need for instructor presence in an online course, and Canvas actually provides many tools top support this; and as you noted, is working on improving these tools and adding new ones.

When our state system  of CTCs moved to Canvas in 2012, one of the things that drove our decision to do so was the vast array and variety of communication tools in Canvas. And, as we surveyed our students over the first few terms, we learned that our students greatly preferred Canvas over our previous platform.  This makes sense, because Canvas was originally designed by two students with the goal of creating an online platform that supported student learning, and could support it in a social manner.  I always fondly look back to a past InstructureCon theme - SLC (Student Centered Learning) - The Musical!

If teachers abandon their apparent desire for "robot" online courses, and treat their Canvas classrooms like they treat a traditional classroom by regularly interacting with their students in both an academic and personal manner, students would value Canvas as much as we do.

Again, thank you, Matt! Thank you for demonstrating that Canvas is still a student-focused platform.  Strike up the band, and sing loudly, it is always SLC - The Musical!



With due respect to the students who tested this product at Wake, I can say with full confidence (having once been a Wake undergrad myself and known many students who would be delighted by confetti), that they are not the users that I am concerned will be turned off, confused, or annoyed by the celebrations, who are also the least likely to explore user settings.

Were these celebrations tested with adult adult students? eg grad students serving overseas, medical doctors getting their MBAs, baby boomers, 70-year old professors forced into taking certification courses, etc? Were they tested by undergrads in rural areas who are driving 20 miles to park outside the closest public wi-fi or using their phones as hotspots to access course material after their kids go to bed or they finish their second part-time job? These are my students.

From my observations of our course evals having recently migrated from D2L, my students don't like Canvas because of how hard it is to navigate and scroll through discussions compared to D2L (which lets you condense discussions by thread and have subject lines on discussion posts), the inability to tag people on discussions like they would on social media, the lack of notification when someone replies to your discussion post, and the clunkiness of navigating groups (they don't understand why they are sucked into "Group World" just for a small group discussions). It's hard for us to convey multiple due dates on discussions, and no matter what method we choose, there's confusion because all the dates are not native in discussions. They also struggle with why they see some of their dates on the mobile app and not other dates, which leads them to miss deadlines and affects their grades. I think improving any one of these things would improve student satisfaction more than celebrations.

I love the idea for kids and semi-adults. Your instinct that this made sense for younger students is spot on. But please continue to let institutions decide for themselves whether to turn them on beyond July. And if you have free time, I would really really love it if you spent it addressing the functional aspects of why students struggle with Canvas rather than the aesthetic reasons. 

Learner II

We showed the feature preview of the celebration experience to a group of folks who meet regularly to better support Canvas users at Ohio State (app admins, support professionals, instructional technology generalists, instructional designers, course coordinators).  There were probably 20-some-odd people in the group that day. The reaction was decidedly mixed.

If if is true that any given individual can turn the celebration off if they find it annoying - and if the option to turn it off is super easy for people to find - I'm OK with this feature being there. If you really wanted to give people options, let them choose from a couple of entertaining gifs.

If it is all-or-nothing or tricky to manage, across the range of students who take courses at my university (as‌ points out), then I'd just as soon not mess with this particular status quo. People react negatively to the weirdest things and I'd like to not subject my support staff to cranky people who don't feel celebratory just because they got their homework done on time.

If this is going to be a thing, can the enforcement date NOT be the middle of summer?  If we're going with this, it is a feature I'd like to tell people about. But most students and instructors are not doing "school" during summer.  I'd have to pack it into a message with all the other things people need to know at the start of autumn semester.  I'm pretty sure it would be overlooked.  I can see doing this in September or October, when we're over the novelty of whatever autumn semester 2020 will look like and we need some cheering up.

On a lighter point - it makes sense that confetti would fall down.  Hot air balloons? Those ought to rise. 😉

Community Team
Community Team

Hi, Valerie,

Historically Canvas has made its largest changes in July, when the majority of Canvas institutions are not in session. We recognize making changes in the middle of ongoing classes is not ideal, but we try to find the best date for all institutions worldwide. (Lots of hugs to our southern hemisphere schools who get these changes in the middle of their school year.)

Decisions for enforcement dates are considered from the feedback of CSM leadership teams, and we are preparing to ensure you have all the resources you need to help train your institution for the changes.




Katie, thank you for your comments, and you raise some great points about the celebrations feature, Canvas, and education in general. I really appreciate the feedback. It’s valuable to me.

Blogs in general are not an ideal way to communicate complex issues. You can never fit all the information you want in them, and it’s really easy, especially in my case, to go way overboard and create a wordy monster nobody ever reads all the way through (brace yourself, that’s about to happen again). My apologies to every writing teacher I ever had who had to wade through 30 page “Short” stories… but I digress.

The celebration feature and how older students received it was a surprise to me as well. Like you, I originally guessed it would appeal only to a younger audience. As we showed prototypes of the feature to some people after it was developed by an engineer as a personal side project, we kept getting feedback from students and even teachers that almost everyone enjoys positive reinforcement and we should consider putting it in Canvas.

That’s really what the celebrations feature is—it’s a bit of positive reinforcement for good behavior, designed to reward a user for an accomplishment, and encourage more of that behavior. There is endless data on how important positive reinforcement is, regardless of age or task. People like to be recognized for doing a good job, and will strive to be recognized again when they are rewarded.

We started showing the feature to different types of students to gauge reactions, and were blown away by the response, young, old, full-time student or Continuing-Education part time night students, the overwhelming response was it was cool and fun and made people feel just a little happiness at a time they generally feel a little jolt of stress. Submitting an assignment is mildly stressful at the moment it happens, and a little positive reinforcement seems to help with that.

The oldest user I showed this to was probably late 50s who was taking classes as part of her job in the medical field. She loved it and commented how much she liked seeing little acknowledgments of progress in other software as well. She mentioned a popular genealogy program that does something similar when they submit work, as well as facebook and other social media platforms that use celebrations and positive reinforcement to encourage positive behaviors.

There didn’t appear to be a huge difference across age ranges in how they responded to the idea, which was a surprise. Ironically, there was more interest amongst the older people than the younger, I think because this sort of feedback is more common for younger students, and less common for older ones, so it felt more meaningful to many of them, and was what Product Managers know as “delighters”, which is unexpected extra that influences how you feel when you are doing something. In car terms, a steering wheel is a necessity, extra cup holders in the back to keep grape soda out of the seats is a delighter.

There were some who were indifferent about the celebration, and a few expressed worry about people with visual impairment who may have issues with the animation. That’s why we included the ability to dismiss or stop the celebration with a keystroke, or just turn it off. There’s also a hidden Easter egg just for visually challenged users as well. Those users who didn’t feel it was necessary were in the extreme minority across all the ages and different types we had look at this feature, and their feedback was mildly positive to neutral, we didn’t find anyone who hated it or didn’t want it.

You make a great point about other types of features that you feel would make a larger impact on the overall product. And I agree with you. There are features that would have a positive impact on usability, clarity, scale or other important areas of Canvas. Those features are important and many of them are underway or planned. Without revealing the full hand, my teams are currently engaged in expanding the permissions model in canvas to make it more flexible, improving the to do list, giving users better ways to control and tune notifications so they mean more, and adding smart alerts to notify students about upcoming assignments so they don’t miss assignments. That’s just my teams, there are several other groups all with heavy and high value projects of their own underway. We keep the Ideas page current with upcoming Development projects so you can see what is being worked on.

We had a chance to implement a very small feature with very little cost that delighted most of the people we showed it to, and we decided to introduce it into the product for several reasons. The most important of these was that as we’ve talked to students and what they want from their learning management system, students are asking for more. They want more engagement, they want encouragement, they want participation and support from the LMS. We’ve had students ask us to include health checks to gauge how they are feeling. 

In this time when learners are distant, and everyone is a bit stressed out, we felt that including some positive encouragement and support for learning was a good thing. And if they prefer to not have celebrations as part of their Canvas experience, they can easily turn it off. Learning should be fun, engaged, and interesting—all of which are concepts that represent who we are as a company. We want to provide a platform that makes learning as effective, fun, and engaging as possible, a thing to relish and enjoy, and not something to just get through. We think this tiny feature helps just a little to make it more fun and engaging to be in the LMS, gaining skill, knowledge, and learning.

I appreciate getting feedback on the areas of Canvas our users would love to see improved. We’re always looking for ways to be better. If you find an idea in the Ideas space that has merity to you—especially the ones currently listed in development—never hesitate to leave ideas, feedback or suggestions. I along with my fellow product manager always enjoy hearing from users and brainstorming ways to make teaching and learning easier, more effective and more fun for everyone.

Thanks again and have a great day.



That doesn't surprise me that admins,  instructional designers and course coordinators were mixed in their support.  We saw the same reaction with designers, admins, etc. It was some version of "yeah I guess that's cool, but what about MY feature?".  Celebrations is targeted at modifying user behavior, and not directly at the admin/management/oversight roles, and so doesn't resonate with them.   
What should resonate is later in the process, as students work a little extra for the reward, and don't forget to turn in assignments on time, and teachers have to spend less time making exceptions,  or refactoring grades or negotiating for extra credit to make up for lost points. As students do better,  and especially as  canvas gets easier and more supportive and inviting,  hopefully that resonates with them.
We are working on some stuff directly targeted for admins and oversight staff right now as well.  We've got some stuff we're doing now that admins and oversight staff is going to love.

Thanks for your feedback, I love hearing how we can tune the system to better meet our users needs.


Explorer III

Deactivated user,

Thank you for this blog post and for your comments on it.  I understand the reasoning for it and appreciate how you explained the development process.

I have what should be a simple question, for the long-haul and not just until the middle of July 2020, why is this not something that an admin can disable instead of users having to opt-out if they do not want it?

I ask because more-and-more features for software, applications, and web-based solutions, are opt-out instead of opt-in and that frustrates users and admins.

Thank you,

Community Team
Community Team

Hi, Doug,

Matt's post outlines in a few places that Canvas is all about improving the user experience. Several features already exist that give the users control over their own experience in Canvas, such as several of the Dashboard features (course color, nicknames, etc.) The Celebrations feature is yet one more option where users can individually choose what experience they would like when they interact with Canvas.



That's a great question Doug,  and it is a simple, and valid question. The answer is relatively complex, and speaks to the complexity of software development,  customer preferences and evolution of features.o 

The short answer is, in general I agree with you. I prefer, and where possible,  to allow features to be enabled or disabled by admins so they can tune the environment to their needs.  

Here's where the complexity comes in, and it's often feature-by-feature.  In the case of this feature,  this was developed as a prototype on personal time.  To introduce admin control would have done 2 things: add a bunch of additional time, and also introduces a lot of complexity to the feature.   if we held the feature to add the additional overhead,  it would have delayed other features, or held this one for a while while I slotted this into the normal workstream. 

In this difficult time,  and especially given the feedback from students that they enjoy little things like this, and our desire to be different from every other LMS, and to offer our users both functional wins, but also emotional wins as well,  we decided to release this in it's current form.

I have always been data driven and we want to find ways to improve the product, all the time.  I tend to release smaller features, on a quicker cadence, and let actual users give me feedback on them.  Too many products sit in development for months, or even years, without getting actual hands on them.  Real users are the best feedback you can get, and that's why we released this as an opt-out, and not an opt-in. 

The last reason we decided to do this falls under my character flaw of being overly transparent; you pointed out that many companies have moved to an opt-out model and not an opt-in model.  If we released with an opt-in model,  it lets an administrator, who this feature is not built for, make that choice for students.  It takes that choice out of the hands of the student and puts it into the hands of someone the feature doesn't directly benefit.   We didn't want that to happen. 

I will always take the side of reinforcing good behavior,  I will always take the side of telling someone good job.  I heavily prefer trying to make people happy vs not telling them good job.  I'll always error on the side of over-congratulating vs under congratulating.   So for the first version of this feature,  we'll put it in the hands of the kids who asked for this.  The kids who like encouragement and want the LMS to be more engaging. 

We will be watching usage pretty close.  I'm so excited to talk to more students when they see it and see how they accept it.   I'm excited to see what the feature looks like in a few months and if it makes a difference or not. Because I'm data driven, we'll put some instrumentation in to track how many people turn it off vs leave it on.  We'll watch this feature pretty close over the next few months, and if it doesn't seem valuable, we'll make changes.  One of those changes could be introducing more admin control,  we have toyed with the idea of having the feature shut off automatically if users dismiss it using a keystroke. (you can stop a celebration just by hitting space or esc key).  

We want this to be fun, encouraging, lighthearted and helpful.  If it's not,  we'll improve until it is.  

I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me.  It's the my favorite part of my job, hearing from users, and how we can make their lives better in some way, large or small. So thanks for sharing your thoughts.  As this rolls out, I'm interested in hearing how it's going and carrying the dialog forward as this feature, and others, hit the streets. 

Thanks again and stay safe out there everyone!



Deactivated user‌ I'm slightly confused by your last reply. You mentioned the feature was released without admin control yet I see that "Confetti for On-Time Submissions" is currently an account level feature option. I thought the discussion had moved to the idea (which I completely support) of keeping it this way beyond July. Unless I'm missing something, it seems that your team has already invested in this "additional overhead". I can understand the rationale for keeping the feature flag list manageable however given how divided the feedback is for this particular feature, it seems like a perfect candidate to occupy some permanent real estate on the account options page.

Explorer III


Thank you for providing examples of how Canvas allows users to control their own experience in Canvas.  The Dashboard is a good example and I will respond  that most of those features are optional and opt-in (e.g. changing their view from "Card View" to "Recent Activity", favoriting and unfavoriting courses, changing colors, applying nicknames) and not opt-out.  Other opt-in examples in the feature options area of their profile would be "High Contrast UI" and "Underline Links".

Explorer III

Deactivated user,

Thank you for your response, especially with how detailed and transparent it was.

While I still wish that admins had more control over it, I understand more about the feature development and release process.


Good question,  and my mistake I wasn't clear. I'll clarify the post when I have a minute.

I often use feature flags, and admin controls interchangeably.  Which is bad.  As you said, feature flags should really be temporary.  The feature is behind a feature flag now, and admins can disable it.   We generally want to remove feature flags at some point and leave the feature either on, or as an admin setting that administrators can use to turn features on or off.  I intend to eventually remove the feature flag for this feature and not necessarily leave it as an admin setting. 

But to your point,  we have time to watch the feature right now. It is still behind a feature flag and we can give it some time to test and evolve and see how students like it.  I hope your org chooses to leave it on.   We all need encouragement and I think people will be surprised how much students, even 50 year old part time learners, like little pieces of happiness and encouragement 🙂

Hope you are doing well and staying safe,  thanks so much for reaching out.  Have a great day.


Explorer III

Hi Deactivated user‌,

I can't support's comment more strongly, "I would really really love it if you spent it addressing the functional aspects of why students struggle with Canvas rather than the aesthetic reasons. "

We've provided prioritized lists of needs with suggestions to Product Managers on a few occasions over the years. We've been leaving feedback and suggestions on many Ideas that never get developed (but are highly voted). Is it only new feedback that is now considered?  Where is the feature request Idea for this? Was it this one, , that got 7 votes? Maybe I didn't find the one that got more votes in my search, but somehow I got the impression that the Top 10% were the ones considered for development. 

All of the things you listed, "expanding the permissions model in canvas to make it more flexible, improving the to do list, giving users better ways to control and tune notifications so they mean more, and adding smart alerts to notify students about upcoming assignments so they don’t miss assignments" should be the primary focus, in my opinion. When you do fluff items first, because they are short and easy, it gives the impression that that is your focus. 

When our faculty learn of this type of development, and knowing the laundry list of things they need to be fixed/developed, they seriously question the priorities of the platform we are engaged with. Instructors don't know the varying amounts of work that goes into these things. Ultimately, they would say, that they could be the ones providing "fun, engaged, and interesting" learning opportunities, if the platform worked more smoothly and they weren't fighting through poor releases and confusing interfaces. They would then be the source of the educational experience that the students would be able to "relish and enjoy, and not something to just get through".

We will not be enabling this, and we hope that it is not forced upon us anytime soon.


To add to this, although it was clear that this confetti was developed with a developer's spare time, what's the cost after that? When it was tested at Wake and in other settings, was that spare time, or was that work time? When you wrote this blog post and the replies to us, was that spare time or work time that took away from your other projects? What about when level 1 support responds to help requests about this (I've heard the wait time lately has been 15-30 minutes, if you're lucky), or when I have to take the time to write a newsletter article to my users... is that spare time? 

Every change you make to Canvas costs me and my stakeholders time and cognitive load. Even if the only cost is me reading the release notes, it's still 5-20 minutes I spend doing that and not directly supporting my faculty and students. If it's something that I feel needs to be commented on, that's more time. If it's something that we're going to need to do training on, that's more time. And then when you tweak it a few months later, I have to revise documentation and communicate that change again to my faculty because Canvas Guides are hard to understand, even for PhDs, and often skip key quirks of the features that we have to ferret out. 

All this is time I'm thrilled to spend when the change is substantive and will make a real improvement to the learning experience. The rest of this release was packed with awesome changes that will make a lot of processes easier. Many of the ready releases have been great, and the deploy releases with bug fixes are also great. 

[I decided to remove the end of this comment after reading Erin's comment on 4/30 and taking what she said to heart. I just want to be clear that her comments did not come from nowhere.]


As a higher ed client, we would prefer if this feature could be opt-in for users permanently. We anticipate that we’ll receive support requests from our students about this feature and how to disable it. During this challenging time, we are already receiving enough support requests from students struggling with the transition to remote learning and it would be a lot of effort on our end to create a script to disable this feature on their behalf.


Seconding‌'s recommendation. I'd also like to add that sub-accounts -- e.g., sub-accounts for professional programs -- would appreciate a way to manage availability of the feature, ideally as a setting which can be set in various sub-accounts and courses (much as with today's feature flags for certain features). 

Community Team
Community Team

Hi, all,

I can confidently state that our product team prefers to watch behavior takes place in real life before making strong considerations about feature adjustments. Sometimes the anticipation of a feature contains more worry than the actual experience. As with any Canvas features, any requests for an adjustment should be created an idea in our Ideas space for any further feedback, which will put the idea on  record and help others be able to find it.

Canvas believes in putting the choice for a user's experience in the hands of the individual user. We've received an outpouring of support from both K12 and HE students who have been delightfully surprised by the addition of this feature, especially on social media. Like with all features in Canvas, our teams will be prepared with resources we can share if you find the need to explain how to opt out of this change. They are being revised and will be posted shortly in the Canvas guides.

Katie, I recognize that you and others are frustrated with what is going on in the world and with the derailment of the expected roadmap. We have not all exactly loved the current situation, either. Yet we are all human and trying to adapt the best way we can. The Community welcomes civil discussion and constructive feedback that helps improve Canvas as a whole—all of us are trying to do what we can. Those of us working for Canvas don't take your position lightly—if you have feedback that would improve your release notes experience, I would like to hear it, as my goal is to continue to make release notes more consumable for everyone. You can message me via the Community at any time. For documentation, our team cares deeply about the work that they create, especially their work for the Canvas guides. We have specific channels to help with feedback for those—if you find something that doesn't seem simple enough or needs clarification, please leave a comment directly in the guide for our team to review. They will get right back to you! 

Ultimately, everyone here at Canvas emphasizes with you more than you know. Our product teams and engineers temporarily revised their entire roadmaps to put your upmost needs at the forefront of their priority lists. Additionally, every person employed by Instructure has also been personally affected by multiple company changes, which has also involved having to say goodbye to coworkers. We are not immune to the challenges you are facing, nor are we apathetic. The priorities you all want to see from Canvas are coming back—as of this week teams are transitioning back to the existing plans that you need and want. Perhaps confetti was developed by one of our engineers as a way to bring back some cheer within our own virtual walls of what we are also trying to feel despite life's current circumstances. Let us all try a little better to understand each other and realize we are on the same team with the same goal to improve education and make Canvas a better experience for everyone.




Thanks for the note, Erin. It definitely helps to know you don't take our position lightly. And thanks for passing along that the roadmap is back on.

(FWIW, I think you do a great job with the release notes, Erin.)


Matt, please go back and re-read your first paragraph above.  You are implying that admins, instructional designers, and course coordinators do not care about "modifying user behavior" and that is why Confetti does not resonate with them.  I think that you might want to get more familiar with the admins, instructional designers, and course coordinators at many of the Higher Ed accounts that are using Canvas, as you will find that for the most part, they are *VERY* interested in improving education, instructor development, and making classrooms better learning places.


-Steve Faith


Thanks for the feedback Steve,  I didn't mean to imply that Admins designers and course coordinators don't care about modifying user behavior.  I know that's literally what we're all focused on, delivering the best education possible.   What I was trying to say is that certain features are designed for, and directly applicable to specific user types.   Something like confetti, that is targeted at students and indirectly, teachers isn't as appealing to an admin or designer, because they have different problems to solve.  So feedback on a feature designed for a different type of user is almost always somewhere around neutral and can even be negative.   I get the same response when I talk granular user permissions to teachers.  Most of them are some version of "wut?" 🙂  That's all I was saying.   It is always inspiring to see the focus and dedication everyone has to creating the best learning environment possible. It's amazing.  Keep up the fight, and thanks for chiming in. 


Learner II

I would "third" this recommendation.  Our support staff are already overworked and do not need additional confusion leading to more support calls. Also, we have a number of trainings for our faculty and for our continuing education students, neither of which will appreciate a celebration and will be annoyed more than anything!  

If the feature is already behind a feature flag, why remove the feature flag option?  

Please reconsider removing the feature flag option.  Universities are not all the same, hence the use cases are not all the same.  Please give us the ability to not make disruptive changes to our user base during these challenging times.


Surveyor II

I skimmed through the comments and can see a mixed bag of reviews. I think the idea is a lovely gesture and yes, if a student hates joy they can switch it off. I know there are other pressing features people are concerned about but in this current climate a little reward is a beautiful thing and it’s important to celebrate those little successes. 

I just wanted to add that I thought the article was written beautifully and I completely agree with this statement:

“If we can’t enjoy the little things, and celebrate the successes, what can we enjoy?”

I really loved the concept of personal development projects, I think that is brilliant. 


I appreciate the back and forth on this comments, but it seems that one thing that hasn't been fully considered by Canvas is their clients' image nor the client's student base. It should be up to the specific institution whether or not they would like their students to see a feature that could be considered, by some, somewhat infantilizing, particularly when it has no other use. This is not to say that Canvas shouldn't also consider how students use the application and how UX can be improved. It's important. However, doubling down on saying "no" a feature permission that could bring joy to everyone, student and institution alike, by making sure it remains optional on the admin feature flag level, does not seem like you're fully considering your clientele.

Don't misunderstand- I'm actually a huge fan of confetti. It just might not always be appropriate.


Very well said, Your comment reminds me of a feature idea submitted by‌, one that's about retaining the feature option for submission celebrations in a way that could apply to specific courses or sub-accounts:

I think a configurable option like the one Rick describes would, if developed, allow institutions to specify where on-time submission celebrations are and aren't appropriate.   

About the Author
Currently working at UC Davis where we completed a move from Sakai to Canvas, and previously had been at UC Merced where I was on the project team involved with moving from Sakai to Canvas. Employed at the University of California for over 21 years, working at both UC Davis and UC Merced. Started at UC Davis as a student employee in the IT Training group, and have held staff positions managing academic technology services, IT student services, IT Help Desk, and desktop support services.