Morning Keynote: Education to Better Their World – Unleashing the Power of 21st Century Kids

Marc PrenskyColonial Future Education Foundation and InstituteAnother morning with bad wifi for the keynote, so I’m typing this offline.


The ends of education for the future should be not just improving individuals, but improving their world.Marc Prensky is most known for coining the term “digital native” and now does speaking on the future of education.Marc opened by talking about how the camp theme is more about the nostalgia but should be more about the future of camp for our kids. of the first major points that Marc made was that K-12 teachers insist on teaching students how to “take notes” because “that’s what colleges/universities want from students,” when in reality, college/university instructors indicate that they don’t want that! They want students who can think, problem solve, and do things. Clearly miscommunication between the groups. tweet above was in reference to a statement that Marc said about 15 minutes into his presentation: right along… There have been a lot of great pieces of information, nothing new, but good to have reiterated nonetheless. He’s going pretty fast, so it’s hard for me to document the big points. I am going to email him for the slide deck after the presentation – I’ll post the link in the comments once it’s available.There are 2 traditions of education

  1. Accomplishment tradition – consisting of action, relationships, and accomplishments.
  2. Academic tradition – consisting primarily of thinking.

Marc’s point is that the Accomplishment Tradition leads people to business, where the Academic Tradition goes back into the schools (educators). Marc’s desire is to put these 2 traditions back together and not be isolated based on the environment. spent a few minutes going into examples of kids who have provided real-word accomplishments. I hadn’t heard of any of these, but they’re incredibly impressive. Afterwards, Marc prempts the comments of “we do service learning, long term projects, capstones, apprenticeships, etc.” and says GREAT – but we need more”Academic education is not enough – it underestimates what today’s students can now do.” – Marc Prensky an effort to make the kids even more powerful, Marc has started putting together a website that showcases real-world problems solved by kids.


The ends of education for the future should be not just improving individuals, but improving their world.


I thought Marc did a good job getting his point across. There were a few areas that I wish it were different.

  1. He referred to all students as “kids.” Not just once, but over and over. As a corporate trainer, I have students that I teach, but they are far from “kids.” It’s clear from the presentation that he’s focused on K-12 students, but I wish there was a wider scope to the presentation.
  2. The presentation is mostly about what should be different in education – how education can/should change to improve the future population. What I thought was missing were examples for implementation and/or takeaways. Great presentation on a large scale, but little in terms of action items.
  3. Going back to #1 above, this presentation is focused on K-12 and higher education. While I feel that this is going to be an ongoing theme for the rest of the Conference, I wish that weren’t the case. Canvas has more customers than just the education field (K-12 and higher ed), but the schedule doesn’t reflect that. I’m certainly hoping I’m wrong, but only time will tell.


July 25, 2016 @ 8:43am: Marc sent me the slides from his presentation.

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:;