InstructureCon: Opening Keynote

The Internet isn’t working in the ballroom, so I don’t know how much I’ll be able to follow the Twitter feed or post these thoughts to my blog. Worst case scenario, I’ll post all of my thoughts at the end of the evening, if the Internet continues to give out.Given that this is my first Instructure conference, I’m really not sure what to expect. First up, I was definitely not expecting there to be over 1800 people in attendance. I’ve been to (what I thought was a) large conference, but this is by far the largest. The theme this year is Camp Canvas / KumbayAwesome. It sounds cheesy, but I must say, they certainly went all out with the theme. Merit badge sashes, backpacks, passport books, etc. Try to keep an open mind and ignore the cheesiness (sp?). In terms of the pre-keynote announcements, it was <b>very</b>¬†entertaining. A video on safety in the woods – pretty funny.The opening keynote is by Instructure CEO, Josh Coates. He’s pretty engaging, talking about the past year, new clients, and the growth of Instructure. One of the most impressing stats that he shared with everyone is that Canvas has averaged about 5 minutes of downtime per month for the last year, one of the best stats of any Learning Management System, as well as a 95% satisfaction rate with support. talks about his experience taking a Game Theory class in college and some of the concepts that apply to Instructure’s philosophy today. One of the caveats to Josh coming onboard with Instructure (back in the day) was that Instructure can/will not be sold to Blackboard. Thank you!! then spent time talking about openness and how Canvas can and should be open. However, being open doesn’t solve all problems. There are a few things that Josh indicates can be good with openness.

  • Security

Every year, Canvas goes to a 3rd party company to do a security audit – and to publish the results. No other LMS vendor does this.

  • Crowds

The importance of crowd-sourcing feedback and information is invaluable. Now, crowd-sourcing isn’t always the best idea, but in some cases, it’s worked wonders for Instructure. The way they do this is through the Canvas Community. At one point, Instructure flew a number of their top Community contributors to Salt Lake City to pick their brains on how Instructure should spend some of their engineering budget. This could have been a huge waste/flop/time-suck, but it went great – and they plan on doing this every few years.

  • Communication

Josh, partly in jest, discussed Instructure’s implementation of tl;dr (too long; didn’t read). A one sentence summary of a longer email. all things openness with communications, Josh provided top-level email contacts for any inquiry that someone might have (engineering, marketing, money, technology, people, etc.). To conclude the list of people, he provided his own email address for “everything else.” It’s not every day you find a CEO willing to provide his own email address for communication.Overall, a few thoughts…From Josh:

  1. If only a subset of your organization has access to data, consider a wider dissemination.
  2. If you are part of a standards group, consider opening it.
  3. If your organization relies on information hiding to function, consider a cultural overhaul.

Openness isn’t free. It has a real cost – but it’s usually worth the price.

From the community:;

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