Unlocking Effortless Content Creation in 2024

AllisonHowell
Instructure
Instructure
6
5672

Canvas.png

We’ve heard you loud and clear and have been spending the past year experimenting with ways to solve a persistent problem for instructional designers and instructors who create content in Canvas – how to simplify the content creation experience so that users can easily create well-designed, responsive content without wasting time tinkering with design or learning html skills.

What We Tested

We brainstormed several approaches and eventually landed on two solutions that we thought were worth taking to customers. 

  1. The first was an AI-powered natural language page design solution, which many of you may have seen demoed at InstructureCon or tried out for yourself. 
  2. The second was the idea of page templates, which we envisioned would save users time by allowing them to select templates from a gallery. We talked to many of you about this solution as well, and received excellent feedback that encouraged us to iterate further. 

We brainstormed and iterated. Garnered feedback and iterated some more. But we realized that neither of these solutions were solving the entirety of the root problem.

What We Learned

What we ultimately discovered was that our two solutions solved problems on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to content creation, but didn’t address the core of the problem.

  • The AI-powered solution provided a totally blank slate that removed the need to tinker with html, which was useful, but wasn’t enough. 
  • Templates provided a limited selection of page designs that were pre-created and also removed the need to tinker with html and also partially solved the problem

We were certainly saving educators time with these approaches, but we were only partially hitting the mark. Since both solutions were being built on top of the rich content editor, we learned that we weren’t providing the guardrails needed to prevent users from altering the page design in a way that broke the more complex design components and responsiveness of the page. 

In short, the value both solutions brought would not be maintainable once it was back in the rich content editor. This fact led to a lot of requests for enhancements that institutions would require in order to adopt these solutions.  

Where We Landed

After much internal discussion, research, customer interviews, and technical discovery, we decided to pivot to a new solution that we believe will not only save time, enable consistent and maintainable content across institutions, and offer more components essential to good design, but will also open us up to a brighter future that will allow us to provide new and exciting developments faster. This new experience, which we are currently referring to as the block editor, will enable well-designed, high quality, responsive content using a simple and familiar interface. It will also help users build more accessible content, working seamlessly with the existing Ally Checker, using blocks to compose and format content that will create flexible layouts for all screen sizes, and leveraging common design practices to reduce cognitive loads. The block editor will modernize the existing experience, making it easy for educators to harness the power of the features available in the rich content editor using content blocks and will add additional functionality that makes content easy to format. Additionally, the solution enables us to further explore ways to leverage AI in page design and templates alongside the block editor to solve other problems around content creation. 

What’s Next? 

We’re excited about innovating with our block editor solution and as a result, will be replacing our page templates and AI-powered natural language page design on the roadmap with the block editor. Over the next few months, we’ll be working with closed alpha and beta groups to ensure we get this right and iterate off of customer feedback, delivering the best experience possible to all of you. We are planning to release the new block editor in the second half of 2024. 

We know this is a big change, and we are confident that reimagining the experience, as opposed to building new features on top of the existing one, is the right solution for our customers. We learned this from all of you and continue to rely on your feedback to ensure we are building the right solutions to your most pressing problems. I look forward to sharing more as we start to iterate and develop this feature! 

If you or your institution is interested in signing up for the closed Alpha group, please fill out this form and we will be in touch in January. 

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