Lucky for me, my commute home from InstructureCon 2012 was a short 110 miles by car. After that and a great nights sleep in my own bed, it is time to reflect on the recent Instructure conference held in Park City Utah.
Who was There
Last year there were just over 200 people, this year there were representatives from schools all over the country, including some very large companies like Microsoft, Cisco, and Pearson to name just a few. In addition vendors like Respondus, McGraw-Hill, i-Clicker, Panopto, SoftChalk and others came. I hear there were more than 650 pre-registered.
The funnest part for me were the conversations I had with people from all over the country as we sat around the table at food time. I learned about the extensive process the State of Washington went through in their selection of Canvas. There were many at the conference who were not current users of Canvas, but were taking a serious look, not satisfied with their current product. I met customers of D2L, Moodle, and Blackboard there, all there to kick the tires on Canvas, talk to those of use using Canvas and learn what was happening.
Sharing great ideas
The fun part was sharing ideas, stories, and adventures with others who had made the switch to Canvas, or were right in the middle of their migration. There were tons of great ideas for teaching online, using Canvas effectively, and some pretty cool stuff. One of my favorite presentations was the one done by Dr. Curt Radford of Utah State University. Deaf himself since birth, he has built an amazing American Sign Language (ASL) course in Canvas, and has done extensive research to show that it works. He uses the built in video recording functionality of Canvas, so students can practice their ASL skills, and communicate using ASL in the class. I was impressed.
The Cisco Announcement
The other presentation I was most impressed with, was done by Amy Christen, Vice President at CISCO, and her announcement that the Cisco Networking Academy would be using Canvas to teach 1 million students, 20,000 teachers at 10,000 institutions in 165 countries. Having Cisco select Canvas is pretty awesome, and another validation that it is a great learning platform, able to scale on a moments notice to meet demand. What was more awesome for me was the entire idea behind the academy. It is a global program, part of the philanthropy side of Cisco, set out to provide education around the globe. Amy shared stories of teenagers and young adults in the US and far away places like Pakistan, who because of the academy, have technical training, have created business, and are employed. It is a great program. I was able to meet Amy’s team at InstructureCon and they are awesome. Full of energy and passion for what they are doing. Well done Cisco. You can read more about it here.
Analytics announced – and it is available now! And I mean now!
Much anticipated, Instructure showed off Analytics. It is cool, and will be very useful for students, faculty, and schools. The visualizations built into it, allow you get a great overview of what is going on, and how students are doing. While Analytics in itself is cool, the most amazing thing about it, is that it is available now! Yes I mean now. No waiting for the semester to end to install, not download and beta testing, it is there and it available now. I can see data on the class that I just finished teaching in May. And that is the beauty of the cloud and Canvas.
Hats of to Sunny Washington and her team and everyone at Instructure for putting on a great conference. It was a fun, energy packed event, with great evening activities. I enjoyed the sessions, and have some great practical ideas to make my own course better.
I am looking forward to the posting of the recordings of each session. I was unable to attend everything I wanted to, so thank you Instructure for recording the sessions.
For those of you not on Canvas, well I just have one thing to say. It is time to take the leap. You are among friends, and as I heard someone at the conference say, ” It feels like family.” And I agree. Thanks everyone for a great conference, and I enjoyed meeting many of you.