A loaded conversation about AWS Educate and Google partnerships, the New Canvas Community platform migration, the new-and-improved Canvas roadmap, and a revamp to the Global Announcements feature for all Canvas users. Information about the podcast can be found in the Canvas TLDR Blog.
Global Announcements Archive (2020-08-15 Release Notes)
How do I view the Global Announcements page as an instructor?
How do I view the Global Announcements page as a student?
Matt Goodwin (00:07)
It's that time again for the Canvas TLDR podcast. I'm Matt Goodwin with product.
Jenn Mitchell (00:11)
I'm Jenn Mitchell with K-12 product marketing.
Ryan Lufkin (00:14)
I'm Ryan Lufkin with higher ed product marketing.
Jenn Mitchell (00:16)
We're here to share the latest and greatest in Canvas.
Ryan Lufkin (00:18)
We're talking about the why in what we build, because pandas can't.
Matt Goodwin (00:25):
Hey everybody, welcome to the August edition of the TLDR Canvas podcast. What do we have on the docket today, Ryan and Jenn?
Ryan Lufkin (00:43):
Well, we have some great partner news from names that you will know and love, and we're excited about that.
Jenn Mitchell (00:49):
Yeah. And we're also going to be sharing more about our new community space that's fresh for the new school year. And then we'll also be talking about how we're going to share a roadmap with our users and diving into some cool new product features.
Ryan Lufkin (01:04):
Yeah. Episode nine is gonna be a big one.
Matt Goodwin (01:09):
Hey Ryan, why don't you tell us about this exciting partnership that's come our way?
Ryan Lufkin (01:13):
Yeah. So, exciting announcement. I think a lot of people know that you know, we've partnered with AWS Educate for some time now. But we are announcing a deepening of that partnership and we'll actually be making access to the AWS Educate getting started resource center available on Commons. And if you're not familiar with that, AWS Educate is all about giving educators the resources they need to help students learn about careers, prepare for careers in the cloud computing industry. And so they've got a whole set of resources within their getting started resource center that helps educators build courses, expand courses, really deepen that knowledge so that they can pass that on to students.
Ryan Lufkin (02:00):
So that'll be made available directly within Canvas Commons through the LTI integration that we announced last... I think it was last year now. Jeez. But it's an exciting partnership and I think is as we continue to build this out, educators will receive access to a variety of resources to explore, including AWS promotional credits free access to labs and curated content—just a whole slew of content that will help make those courses richer and deeper. So you'll see more about that. We'll include a link here in the show notes, but also just go ahead and visit Canvas Commons and look up AWS Educate and you'll get a little more information there.
Matt Goodwin (02:36):
Awesome. Thanks Ryan.
Ryan Lufkin (02:36):
Jenn Mitchell (02:44):
I am excited to welcome Tara to the group. Hi Tara. How are you?
Tara Gunther (02:48):
Hey, I'm well, how are you?
Jenn Mitchell (02:50):
Doing well. So you have some news. We, we launched it last week but for those of you who didn't get it around Google and our new LTI integration. So do you want to tell us a little bit about, about the new news around Google?
Tara Gunther (03:07):
Yeah. This has been a couple of years coming. We've been partners with Google for a long time, but just last week we launched a new LTI tool for their Google assignments tool, which has been super well received. We're really excited about all of the feedback we've gotten. Especially those folks in K-12 have been excited because it's kind of been an either or where you use Google or Canvas. And now teachers are really excited that it's both, and Google and Canvas work really well together. It's a seamless experience.
Tara Gunther (03:34):
And one of the really cool things is that we are the only LMS—Canvas is the only LMS that Google supports with their support team. So while you can still totally call into your support agent or your CSM or whoever, you know, at Canvas Google is the one that's actually supporting this and helping customers make sure it's, it's easy to use and done well.
Matt Goodwin (03:53):
I wish we had sound effects. I wish we had like cheering because we did. It's funny. I've actually heard that on campus where...[cheering sound effect]
Ryan Lufkin (04:03):
There we go. Do you just say, I want to use Google and you say it doesn't have to be either or right. We've had those conversations. And then you know, we did the live stream, but last week Jenn and people were freaking out, they were like, I'm going to get all my teachers on that on Canvas now because we can pull on Google. Right. It's super exciting.
Jenn Mitchell (04:25):
Yeah. And when Ryan and I were doing that live stream, I think this is Ryan's favorite quote, maybe ever—is that people were so excited about the news, she was shaking. Right.
Ryan Lufkin (04:35):
We'd love to hear that when we can—when we're, you know, other people are as nerdy and excited about this as we are that's super exciting,
Matt Goodwin (04:41):
As long as it's shaking for the right reasons. It sounds like it was.
Ryan Lufkin (04:43):
Yeah. It wasn't rage!
Tara Gunther (04:49):
No it's been awesome. One of the things too, that's we just sent out an email to a collection of customers globally, letting them know about what to do with the current LTI. So folks are asking, should we hide the existing and then just show the new, and if you need help with that, there's a guide out there. We have all that documented and we can help get that done if you're having trouble, but otherwise, truly go to Google for support because they're ready and waiting.
Ryan Lufkin (05:15):
We can actually drop some of those resources in the show notes. And so we'll, there's, we've got a great video that talks about Canvas and Google better together. There's the support documentation that's in there and then like the instructions on what they need to do to upgrade the LTI.
Matt Goodwin (05:28):
Yeah. And like you said, this has been a couple of years in the making. I remember when we first launched our version, you know, Google, LTI integration. And it was good. You know, it, it helped people do what they wanted to do, but it was an LTI built by Instructure that enabled Google tools. And there's a huge difference and a huge transition. Now they're able to provide the experience that should be on top of their tool set based on an LTI that they built, deployed, and fully support in conjunction with Canvas. This is huge.
Tara Gunther (06:06):
Yeah. And I think it's important that they built it and they were looking at the scope of the work and how it would be built. They took customer feedback very much into consideration. There was a lot of work that was done last year for customers who were at InstructureCon—you may have met with the Google team. But they, they really did a nice job of incorporating feedback that we've heard as well as feedback that they've heard firsthand.
Jenn Mitchell (06:26):
So if I am a teacher in the classroom and this is kind of all new to me, what are some of the benefits I'm going to get out of this Google assignments LTI? So as far as I know, they were really excited about the originality report. I know that getting feedback from those comment banks were super important to them when they were looking at that. And then I know as we're going online, just anything to simplify the workflow for both teachers and students is so critical right now.
Tara Gunther (06:53):
Yeah. I think it just, it makes it really easy to make an assignment that is a Google assignment and then use a Google doc as your assignment submission. And it keeps it all in one place. Instead of some, some things that kind of took you out of Canvas before now it's, it's really seamless, but yeah, you mentioned like the originality is very cool and integratedThey are working on, I think SpeedGrader integration comes this fall, so that's, that's coming. So there's even more stuff that's going to be pushed out as time goes on.
Ryan Lufkin (07:21):
That's what I thought was so exciting is this is the first, I mean, this is super robust and awesome, but this is actually just the first phase of this delivery. Right. There's some exciting stuff coming out before InstructureCon in October, but there's, there's a roadmap well into the future with Google. So I love that partnership.
Tara Gunther (07:37):
Yeah. And speaking of InstructureCon, they'll be there—or CanvasCon—they will be presenting, they'll have a session, so you can always find out more and, and come to those, too.
Matt Goodwin (07:47):
Yeah, that's rad. I think it deserves one more of these [cheering sound effect].
Tara Gunther (07:52):
But they won't have the Google photo booth like they did last year, which was a fan favorite.
Matt Goodwin (07:57):
Kind of hard to do remote.
Ryan Lufkin (08:01):
We're trying to figure out how to do things like that. We'll see.
Matt Goodwin (08:04):
Well, thanks Tara. We appreciate the update and it's super exciting.
Tara Gunther (08:11):
Yeah, thanks for having me.
Ryan Lufkin (08:11):
Thanks for all the work that your team did and awesome things for Google to be a great partner. So you guys have done a great job working with those guys, and so we couldn't be more excited.
Tara Gunther (08:19):
No, Us too. Thank you.
Matt Goodwin (08:24):
Well, let's welcome to the podcast, Renee Carney and Scott Dennis from our Canvas community team. Welcome.
Ryan Lufkin (08:30):
Scott Dennis (08:31):
Renee Carney (08:33):
Ryan Lufkin (08:34):
I think, I think Scott, I think you've been on before, but Renee is this your first time on the podcast?
Renee Carney (08:39):
It is on this one.
Ryan Lufkin (08:41):
Awesome. This is my first time on this one... [laughing]
Matt Goodwin (08:46):
But I'll try my time today. That's great. Very kind of you [laughing]. Well this is a big topic that we've got right now. We've recently transitioned our technology for our community and our community is awesome. We have like the most involved community of any software technology that I've seen in all the right way.
Ryan Lufkin (09:09):
I call it one of the largest communities in higher education period, which it is.
Matt Goodwin (09:12):
So we've made some big changes. Why don't you guys tell us a little bit about what those changes are and why we decided to do that?
Scott Dennis (09:22):
Uh yeah, sure. So we've been on the current platform that we're using to host our community for around five and a half years now. And we didn't have a choice of whether to migrate off of that platform. It was a matter of when, not if, because the platform itself is being sunsetted by the—by its owners. So we didn't have a choice that being said, we were getting to the point where it was time to start looking for a new home anyway. And I think that the new platform has some significant advantages or allows us to do things in some, some better ways. And I'll ask Renee to talk specifically about a few of those.
Renee Carney (10:01):
So we can highlight a few that really stood out to us. One—You're used to being able to search content people, places in the old community that still exists in the new community, but it has a lot better database behind it. So in our past community you'd be searching and probably be pretty frustrated because your results would—that you were looking for were about 10 or 15 lines down. Now we're seeing actual results at the top of the line when you're putting in search terms.
Renee Carney (10:32):
We also have some great backend information that I think Scott will expand on later. But just to give you a tidbit of that, we can see the search terms that you're using and we can help add labels or tags or other data on the backend to help improve your search even more. So we're excited about that.
Renee Carney (10:54):
We also spent a lot of time looking at the organization of the old community, as Scott said, had been around five years. So the organization was kind of like, well, I think that fits there and yeah, that kind of fits there. So this gave us an opportunity to tear it all down, say, Hey, let's group things, as in: knowledge. So you'll see knowledge at the top, which has all of our guides, our Q&A, those areas that you're going to go to, to learn something new. We have product, which is going to talk about the roadmap. You'll be able to start conversations around ideas that you have to make the product better. And also find all of our release notes to see what we've already done.
Renee Carney (11:33):
Group hubs. We spent a lot of time improving group hubs and making those easier to find. You'll find roles, so you'll know who you are as an individual user of Canvas or other products, and be able to go join the group and find others in that same role as you or interests, maybe accessibility is a huge interest of yours. You can go connect around that. Language. We've got different language groups and we can expand that as needed.
Renee Carney (12:03):
And we also have a very unique little group of groups that you'll see that says CS. And so customer success. We do have some individuals that work with a group of customer success, support individuals, and they will find the support they need in that group. Events will have just some basic information or collaboration around Instructure con Canvas con, and then also our CanvasLIVE section, which allows you to share a different events that you're hosting. And we've simplified that as well with a calendar that everyone can access and use. I think that's kind of the highlights.
Matt Goodwin (12:44):
That's awesome. You know, you talked about some of the highlights and some of the things that we're anticipating being great for our users. Couple of questions, one—like, if anybody's listening and they've not been involved in the community in any way, shape or form, who is the community for—like who, what types of users or people out there in the EDU space should really look at the community?
Scott Dennis (13:09):
I try to answer that Matt, as, anyone who has any sort of interest in the Canvas learning management system. So whether you're an administrator, you're a student at a university, you're a teacher, you're a paying customer, you're free user. Anyone in the world that has access to Canvas can authenticate into the community and participate with exactly the same rights and privileges as anyone else.
Ryan Lufkin (13:36):
One of the things I loved about the Canvas community, right, when we kind of hit the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis instead of having to go out and create a lot of tutorial videos and explanations, and even in walkthroughs on how to set things up, we went to the community and we were grabbing links of community members at real institutions who had created these resources. And then we were just highlighting those. I mean, the support and, and sharing that happens in the community is just amazing. And so, I mean, it makes my job as a product marketing guy easy because I, I so much of it is, is really our customers talking to each other. But, but again, I think the ability to reorganize that and, you know, start fresh for the next 10 years is pretty exciting. I know your team has done a lot of work. So that's been pretty amazing.
Scott Dennis (14:25):
And it's been basically an underlying philosophy at Instructure since the beginning, I think has been to give people access to information as best we can, and then let them talk to each other. And I think people are oftentimes going to be much more successful if they can—they can get access to the documentation and the videos and the things that we can provide, but then they can also talk to each other about, you know, as a science teacher, I do these things in my classroom and I do these things in Canvas. How do you do that? How do you handle this? And you also mentioned...
Matt Goodwin (14:56):
'Cause You know, where we are not in the classroom in that capacity. So, you know, us, the technologists. We won't have a very good answer.
Scott Dennis (15:09):
I want to, I wanted to follow up a little bit on the comment you made about about COVID and the pandemic. We saw massive uptick in activity in the community in end of February, March, April. It was like nothing we'd ever seen before.
Renee Carney (15:32):
I have that number if you want it.
Scott Dennis (15:32):
Yeah, go ahead.
Renee Carney (15:33):
689,467 page views in one single day was our peak.
Ryan Lufkin (15:40):
Scott Dennis (15:42):
Ryan Lufkin (15:42):
I was going to say we have those stats somewhere. I did an infographic on it at one point, but that's just incredible.
Scott Dennis (15:48):
So it, last Thursday we were sitting at 815,000 members in the community. And by the time we switched over to the new platform, we were at 823,000. And when I'm looking right now on the homepage of the community, I see that there are 870 to 240 users in the community. So we're seeing, as people are starting classes, especially with a lot of people doing school from home this fall, instead of going to campus or maybe doing both we think we'll see an even huger wave of people coming in.
Renee Carney (16:27):
The last two days have been three quarter of a million page views in a single day. And we have a fun, new little tracker that we can look at. And we've been averaging about 1000 page views a minute.
Ryan Lufkin (16:42):
Matt Goodwin (16:43):
I mean, it makes sense. Like COVID was, was big, but now COVID combined with our busiest time of, of the year. I'm expecting record numbers for everything, for logins, for community participation, for anything that we do at Canvas, that's crazy.
Renee Carney (17:00):
Well, and we're excited that this new system can also handle the load. You know, in previous years we would see a slow down or issues with the search. And we've been two days at three quarter of a million views and no issues.
Matt Goodwin (17:17):
Well, let's talk about that for a second because it didn't go without a hitch, right? Like there, there were a couple of hiccups early, early on in the transition—as to be expected with any major transition of technology, but why don't you give us a little detail there?
Scott Dennis (17:33):
Yeah, I can take that one. So when we first turned the new platform on it was immediately overwhelmed. Like it just crashed. And it it was a resource allocation problem. That took about an hour to get that fixed, I think. And then they, we moved into a system where they can dynamically add more resources. And we went from, you know, this, this many to this many two, maybe four times what we had started with just in that first day.
Scott Dennis (18:04):
The biggest issue that we've had is, is this was, you know, what you, might've heard called a lift and shift migration. This wasn't a leave the old system, go log into the new system, and recreate all your stuff. It was take those 815,000 people, all the content they've created, all of the associations that they've made with each other, with, with other areas in the community. Take all of that sort of forensically—took all that and move it over to the next platform. And there have been some, some pretty serious problems with linking of content, getting things that, you know, you, you maybe have a saved browser bookmark rank.
Ryan Lufkin (18:44):
And I do...
Scott Dennis (18:45):
Yeah. Or you have in, in the old platform, you created a document and in that you, you created a link to a different document that's in the community somewhere. And now the association between those two isn't as, as whole, as it should be, we're working through that kind of, that, all of those things. And I think we probably roughly have hit 95% at this point of the redirect issues, but still got some work to do, but most of it is, is, is done.
Ryan Lufkin (19:14):
So if people are in the community, they encounter issues. Is there a support link directly in the product itself? Is there a way to let them know what they're for people to let your team know where they're running into?
Scott Dennis (19:29):
At this point, we're mainly getting that feedback in aggregate from CSMs and from support.
Matt Goodwin (19:34):
Um so we've only been up and running for a few days on the new platform at this point. Have we been hearing any feedback from our customers or users in the community of you know, maybe something that they are pleased with? You know, this is working better. Thank you for doing this or providing this.
Renee Carney (19:53):
Yeah. Great question. I think we've seen some positive things in Twitter right now. I think that we need to give people a little time to see that the redirects are working. They're all busy building their courses, I'm sure. So they're getting the information they need and taking off, which is a good thing. So right now the little bit that we're hearing, we're taking as a good sign, 'cause if things were extremely broken and they weren't finding what they needed, then we'd know we really did something wrong.
Matt Goodwin (20:25):
Yeah. People definitely make noise about the things that they don't like and rarely take the opportunities to talk about things that are going better. But yeah, super busy time of year. I wouldn't expect people to be making too many side roads right now.
Renee Carney (20:40):
But we are always open to feedback. So if someone wants to send us some, we're happy to listen.
Matt Goodwin (20:46):
Yeah, that's good. That's kind of the overall Instructure philosophy, right? We, we do listen, which is great. Cool. Anything else we should know about with the new community or where keep our eyes open?
Renee Carney (20:58):
I think one new improvement to watch for, especially this time of year is in, in our previous structure of community, we kind of had this contingency page set up for COVID response that was tucked into an admin group. And we have intentionally pulled that out into a very specific contingency group. And we're going to continue to add resources to that and revamp it to help get people what they need around the topics that they're looking for there. It also has a discussion forum, so people can start asking questions conversing about ideas and sharing their own resources that they're finding that work. So keep an eye out for that. Definitely check out that group.
Ryan Lufkin (21:41):
Matt Goodwin (21:41):
And that's cool. That's worth, worth its own special mention for sure.
Scott Dennis (21:47):
I'll say also it's sort of a behind the scenes kind of a thing, not as readily apparent to users maybe, but the new platform has given us significantly better capabilities around analyzing and understanding, reporting on what's happening in the community. Community has been an important import input source for Instructure in the past. We're excited about some of our new opportunities to learn in aggregate from our user base about the things—the challenges they're facing, the ideas that they have for improving the product. What areas of the community are they congregating in..all tools that hopefully will help us as a company to understand our clients better.
Matt Goodwin (22:31):
That's awesome. I'm sure they'll greatly appreciate the opportunity to be heard. We definitely like listening.
Ryan Lufkin (22:37):
Yeah. Thank you guys for all your work. This is no. So I've, I've done that migration before and it's never a, an easy, easy go, but you guys have done a killer job. We'll have you back soon.
Ryan Lufkin (22:49):
Well, we've been talking a little bit about the updated Canvas community and everything you can find on there. And there's one thing that everybody on this call is super excited about, and that is the new Canvas roadmap. So to join us to talk about that, Shaun Moon, our favorite product person—don't tell the other product people that.
Shaun Moon (23:07):
I just tweeted it.
Ryan Lufkin (23:10):
But yeah, welcome to the podcast.
Shaun Moon (23:10):
Thank you. Thank you. It's great to be here. Excited to talk about the roadmap.
Ryan Lufkin (23:15):
Yeah. So tell us again, like I said, we were talking a little bit about the new community and that's where new podcast—the new roadmap lives. But tell us, give us the why, the what.
Shaun Moon (23:26):
Yeah. So in the new community. There's a section for product, community knowledge, product group, hub, and events. And if you pull down the product section on new community, then you can see a lot of content related to what's going on in product. And most interestingly at the top of the list is a presentation of the roadmap, things that we're working on and we expect to be into production over the coming three months.
Shaun Moon (23:59):
Um so we're, we're taking a, a bit of a different approach to how we share this information. In the past, we've tried to manage expectations around this information by, by frankly being a little bit vague about when things might be coming out. And we're starting to be a lot more disciplined about making sure that, that we can coordinate with customers around the availability of new capability from Canvas. So we're taking a bit of a, a more aggressive approach, I would say, in terms of showing things, when we expect them to come out.
Shaun Moon (24:38):
Now, you know things, things do happen. Sometimes we can get surprised or they're emergent issues. So we as we've talked to people that folks have said, yes, we understand that things can change. And we will be keeping this up to date at least every month, this will be updated, but right now you can look at September, October, and November and see what we've got slated for release in those in those months.
Shaun Moon (25:07):
And relative to your question, Ryan, as to why we wanted to present information this way... I think it has a few benefits at least first and foremost, it is, it is more details that the customers—that you folks that we're serving can start to plan around. We also wanted to use this as a catalyst to start to engage in, in conversations about the things that that are happening. So for some of these items that are coming up, you can link to other areas in the community where we're talking about the community posts that catalyze these, these activities and also links to blog posts with more information. So that's a little bit of an intro into what it is, the new presentation of the roadmap in the community, and some of the reasons why we wanted to do that.
Matt Goodwin (26:10):
So if I were to summarize or TLDR that it's, we're being more bold by saying when things are going into production, we're putting a monthly date to that. But it's not bulletproof—it's, you know, we—we think they won't change too frequently, but there might be some adjustment to that timing. So keep an eye on that page. And there are opportunities to engage in conversations around those specific items.
Shaun Moon (26:39):
Yeah, absolutely. Both of those are, are totally true. We are gonna I mean, this isn't roadmap as much as just broader community engagement kind of discussion, but that broader community engagement is going to be upstream of things that we want to put in the roadmap. So yeah, having access to kind of the background communications and, and the discussions that we're having in the community. So right now I'm looking at new analytics, quick reports, that's, it's listed there for September. And there's a link to a missing assignment report discussion and the idea there in the community because the missing assignment report is going to be one of those, those available reports there. So having information kind of a consolidated or having the roadmap be a place where you can take that as a jump off point to find out more seemed like a good approach.
Ryan Lufkin (27:41):
And that goes in line with why we do the podcast, right. We started to actually give a little more of the why and the background information on the release notes, and this is one more step in us trying to communicate better. About what's coming down the pipe, right?
Shaun Moon (27:53):
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, it's a, it's only been, I guess, a week or so almost a week. We're already starting to hear some really positive things about, about this approach from customers. I like, I like being on the zoom calls with people and showing this to people and their eyes get big. Like, Oh, I haven't seen it like this before.
Ryan Lufkin (28:15):
Well, we've talked about this being kind of the first iteration, right? We want the feedback, we want to know what they want to know, and we will evolve this based on customer feedback. Right?
Shaun Moon (28:24):
Yup, yup. Yup. And yeah, that evolution is, is already baked into our product processes. As I, as I said, we're going to be updating this every, every 30 days at a minimum. And, and in our first conversation about updating this, there were already some things that, that are looking to come in to October that hadn't been previously listed. So tend to tend to look for that and about the middle of the month when things will be updated on the, the roadmap.
Matt Goodwin (29:00):
So he could see people, you know, coming to this spot in the community, looking at the roadmap and maybe getting a little bit afraid, right? Like maybe there's a big thing on there that we're going to release in September or October. Well, that's not the beginning of the semester. It's not the end of the semester. Is this going to disrupt what I'm doing? Should I be panicking? I don't necessarily have time to make plans to accommodate that new thing.
Shaun Moon (29:29):
Yeah. It's it, I think what we are—I would say to that, is we're putting these things on here for the next coming three months. But there's also going to be communication of things that are happening beyond those three months to give people more time to prepare for, for bigger things. And additionally, this lists out the things that are going into production and we're, we also have a section on this roadmap page—it's called beta features. So things that will be released into production are generally speaking put into beta before that happens. So that's another avenue, another mechanism for folks to get comfortable with the features that are, that are coming down the pike. So the combination of the longer arc of communication and heads up and being able to kick the tires on those capabilities as they're released into the beta features should be really helpful.
Matt Goodwin (30:35):
And we're still planning on implementing and making use of feature flags for those bigger items, right. That this might be the first time it hits production and it's available, but it's probably going to start out as an opt in. So, you know, it potentially would not have as much of an impact for somebody that's mid semester that doesn't have time to kick the tires or they can kick it, kick the tires in beta without disrupting their current classroom.
Shaun Moon (31:01):
Matt Goodwin (31:02):
Perfect. I think there's some comfort in knowing that we're not moving away from that model and if you haven't found the roadmap yet,
Ryan Lufkin (31:10):
We will actually put a link in the show notes so people can find that as well.
Matt Goodwin (31:14):
Anything else we should know about the the roadmap
Shaun Moon (31:17):
In terms of the, the roadmap that's there available on, on the community page? It's pretty straight forward, I believe, but as you said, Ryan, we would love to hear people's feedback on it. And, and hear how it, how well it serves or how it doesn't serve. And in the coming coming weeks, I would say we'll start to communicate more about some of the things that are informing the roadmap. A couple of things that maybe we could preview here and in this episode of the podcast are some ideas that we have around how we make decisions around the things that we're doing. You know, I know that folks have heard a fair bit about the software development life cycle and how we go through the process of discovering the breadth and impact of the things that we're, we're looking to do to make improvements to Canvas.
Shaun Moon (32:16):
And we, of course design those, those improvements and new capabilities, develop them, release them. And then we are also adding more of a process around evaluating those things that we do, but when it comes to the, upstream decision making around whether we should do things as we do discovery, and as we do research we're looking at kind of an intersection of some tactical things to help us inform the decision making. And the way I described those tactical elements are what are we doing to strengthen Canvas and to ensure that it continues to have the best in class availability for learning management system? Second, what are we doing to respond to the emerging needs that our customers have? And third, how do we invest in shaping the future of Canvas? So it's not always going to be exactly cut and dry in terms of something that we do to something that we put on the roadmap as to whether it's strengthening Canvas, taking care of those emerging needs, or shaping the longterm future. But those are a few of the criteria that we're looking at in terms of the decision making, when it comes to where we apply our attention.
Matt Goodwin (33:42):
I think that'd be awesome to do maybe a more in depth session on even at some point.
Shaun Moon (33:48):
Yeah, I'd love to, and they're, they're more, there are more discussions about that. And you know, we, we are, we're being responsive to emerging conditions. Obviously with the pandemic continuing to impact education, that responsive aspect of, of what I was just talking about is a, is a pretty important one. So we don't want to get too calcified or, or dogmatic about about the things that we're doing, but we also don't want to lose a sense of direction on really what it is that we're doing to make, make teaching and learning better.
Matt Goodwin (34:30):
Well, thanks for enlightening us on the on the new roadmap that's available in the community. Like, you know, Ryan and, and Shaun both said, give us feedback, let us know if it's giving you the right pieces of information for you to be successful.
Ryan Lufkin (34:47):
And Shaun, you'll be back on our podcast many, many times in the near future. I have no doubt.
Shaun Moon (34:52):
Jenn Mitchell (34:55):
Hi, we're excited to welcome two members of our engineering team. We have Rob Orton and Drake Harper, and we're talking about some cool stuff around global announcements. Welcome Rob and Drake.
Rob Orton (35:08):
Drake Harper (35:09):
Yeah, thanks for having us.
Matt Goodwin (35:11):
To kind of kick it off. Rob, why don't you give us a quick description of what global announcements is? I mean, it might seem kind of self explanatory and in the title, but you know, exactly what does it do?
Rob Orton (35:25):
So global announcements is just a way for an administrator to push out a notification to all the users in the account. They've been used quite a bit in the, in the last six months as you could probably imagine with different changes that may come up during the middle of a semester. So we've
Matt Goodwin (35:49):
So we've always done announcements in Canvas. What's different about global announcements and kind of these recent updates that we've made?
Rob Orton (35:56):
Whenever an announcement's been made by an admin, the, in a user logs into Canvas, they're trying to submit an assignment or something and asked what comes up and then they they'll just dismiss it and it's gone. And then they, they wouldn't be able to see it again. And so this is just a way for users to now, like when an announcement is dismissed, this then goes into a past, past announcements tray that users can then go and see that past announcements that have, that have happened during the semester.
Matt Goodwin (36:29):
That sounds like one of the problems that we were trying to solve with this latest update was being able to look at past announcements. It's easy to dismiss them, but it was impossible previous to this to get them back. Drake you work helped work on this feature. Why don't you tell something interesting or something that you learned about our users and how they use Canvas and anything interesting that you pulled out of this?
Drake Harper (37:00):
Yeah, it was, I think one of the more interesting things for me to just how much it's been used in the last little bit, kind of, since the virus hit, it's been used a lot more heavily because it's, you know, the admin level announcement coming down to the whole organization. And so with, you know prior to the virus hitting, it was very minimal use. And then I think people really started to see the value of it. And we started to see the value of it a lot more, or we could see that if an admin wanted to say, Hey, we're canceling school. They could push out to everyone an announcement and say, and they would have that immediately on their dashboard. But then if someone just dismissed it like a student or something, and apparently didn't get a good chance to see it, then now there's a way that the parent or whoever can go back and see it. So I think it's an extremely useful feature that we'll be able to help people.
Jenn Mitchell (37:48):
So I was thinking about that with parents, especially if you're helping multiple students, right. And your kid just kind of, I'm guilty of just exiting any box that pops up in front of me when I'm in a workflow, being able to go back and see that history for your student, or if you have multiple children in the house, go and see all of the notifications that come out. That's awesome.
Matt Goodwin (38:09):
What are some of the challenges, nuances or were there any, when you guys were working on this feature?
Rob Orton (38:14):
So some of the announcements code has been in Canvas for a very long time. And so some of the older code base, to make changes in that area can be, it adds some challenges and complexity, as things have evolved over time.
New Speaker (38:30):
For our users, Rob's been here since the Dawn of time. So was this old code older than your existence here at Instructure? Or about, about that old you've been here what, nine years?
New Speaker (38:40):
I've been here nine years. A lot of it was a little older than, than that.
Matt Goodwin (38:45):
That's like forever and instructor years. So, yeah.
Jenn Mitchell (38:49):
So it's carved in stone, like actual stone chipping away at the Dawn of Time?
Matt Goodwin (38:54):
Right. So ripping out, I don't know. It, there's, there's a few features where you start digging and there's code that is that old and it is it's pretty tricky to work with. It can cause a lot of problems.
Rob Orton (39:08):
Yeah. So that's the, the biggest, the biggest challenge I guess, is to make sure that we're doing a change that adds value, but then also not, not just rewriting it, that could introduce different bugs or, or making too big of a change that it just causes a lot of unknown.
Matt Goodwin (39:26):
Yeah. And you know, on the surface, a lot of times you think, Oh, well, how hard could it be to change this feature, update this feature. Sometimes it's a lot harder than, than users realize because of, you know, that type of complexity you're dealing with a super old set of code, and then trying to introduce new feature set on top of that, it'd be like owning a model T Ford and then trying to put like this super sweet sound system in this thing, or a chip in with some computer system to help it perform better when the architecture is just not compatible.
Rob Orton (39:59):
That's a great analogy.
Matt Goodwin (40:01):
Well we appreciate the work that you guys did. I know during the pandemic communication has been critical for almost every single account that I've encountered that uses Canvas trying to keep students informed. I'm trying to keep parents informed and faculty informed. So thank you again for this very critical feature in this very critical time.
Matt Goodwin (40:27):
Good job. You guys. We did it. Another one.
Ryan Lufkin (40:29):
Yeah. It was a lot—chock full of exciting news.
Matt Goodwin (40:34):
Makes sense. Given the timing, right. Everybody's going back to school—a lot to cover.
Ryan Lufkin (40:40):
Jenn Mitchell (40:41):
Yeah. It's great to have all this exciting news going back into the fall, but we want to wish all the people out there getting ready to welcome students back. If you haven't already—good luck, we're rooting for ya. It's gonna be a wild ride.
Ryan Lufkin (40:54):
We're here. We've got your back.
Matt Goodwin (40:55):
Yeah. And if anyone figures out how to successfully navigate, COVID let us know. That'd be great.
Ryan Lufkin (41:01):
We'll talk about it here.
Jenn Mitchell (41:02):
We'll see you next time on the, I think our 10th, the big one oh.
New Speaker (41:06):
Jenn Mitchell (41:06):
Ryan Lufkin (41:09):
Can you actually believe they would let us do this 10 times?
Matt Goodwin (41:12):
Well, they haven't stopped us yet. So. Thanks everybody.
Ryan Lufkin (41:17):
Thank you for joining us on the canvas tl;dr podcast. If you'd like to take a look at what's happening in our next release, please visit releases.instructure.com. We'll see you next month. Bye!