We made a mistake in Ideas & Themes decisions

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We won’t mince our words here – we tried out a new way to help prioritize things from the community at large, and we made some progress. But if we’re being honest, we were really only tackling the small fixes, ones that were easy to fit into a full roadmap, or ones that were adjacent to larger initiatives already planned. We’d hoped that some progress here would be better than none at all, but the reality is that those small wins haven’t made a big enough dent in the long list of requests. 

And we definitely can do a better job of being transparent about the things we are doing, why they are super important, why they might beat out other things, and showing you progress as we go. We also learned that we need to provide the right amount of context on the blog posts announcing what we were (or were not prioritizing). If we’re not prioritizing the top 5 most-voted items, it deserves some explanation.

So where do we go from here?

The reality is that we’ve got enough signal from the votes, comments, and suggestions on ideas & themes to know what’s top of mind for you. What’s also true is that we’ve got a lot to do if we were to take on all the things that have been elevated as important. And we’re also balancing the fact that some things are universally desired, and others, there’s some debate over.

Here’s what we’re going to do about it as we evolve our process.

  • Small pain-points – for things that are truly ‘easy’ to do, we just need to move a lot more quickly. We have assembled a small team of folks deeply versed in Canvas to help accelerate through as many of these quick things as we can. Expect an update on these before the end of March.
  • Larger needs – for the things that are harder to do (even if they seem like they ought to be easy), we need more help from you. Help to slice up the most valuable pieces, help to prioritize how we incrementally create value, and help as we’re working on it to provide real-time feedback. To do this, we’ve extended an invitation to some of our most prolific community contributors to spend regular time with the team planning, co-creating, doing discoveries, and prioritizing incremental delivery of value. We’re starting these sessions on March 19th. Look for more blog posts on this, following the 1st session.
  • Major overhaul items – there are some things that are so intricately connected to the core architecture of how Canvas was built, that they aren’t straightforward. The right way to address them is to re-architect some of the underlying infrastructure to enable more rapid delivery of value. On top of that new foundation, we’ll then be able to rapidly iterate. Our new CTO, Michael Lysaght, will be sharing more on this in an upcoming blog post.
  • Items on our roadmap – we need to be more transparent and visible about the great user inputs that drive the things we have prioritized on our roadmap. Not everyone will agree, but you should be able to understand the rationale and input that drove how we prioritized. Expect a blog post from the Canvas team following every sprint (approx every 2-3 weeks), starting on April 1, 2024.
  • Ideas & Themes – we heard your feedback that it’s unclear how this process informs the priorities and we want to take time to improve it. We’ve identified areas that are working and areas that are not, and while we’re gathering more feedback from you, we’re going to pause the next voting window, expected in March/April. In the meantime, we will continue to review ideas as they come in. Expect more information by June. 

It took us a bit to respond to the original post and some of the thoughtful comments on there. It sparked a lot of discussion internally, and was paired with a desire to respond, not just with words, but with a thoughtful plan of action. I recognize this meant that it took a bit to respond.

I hope this post helps clarify our position, and our continued commitment to make a great product for educators and learners everywhere. And we greatly appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to get better at this.

 

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