the tl;dr by canvas lms

The Vision Quest

January 20, 2021 Canvas Product Team Episode 14
the tl;dr by canvas lms
The Vision Quest
2020 Recap, 2021 Vision—Steve Daly
2021 Canvas Roadmap Recap—Shaun Moon
2021 Canvas Add-on Products Roadmap Recap—Kevin Turco
the tl;dr by canvas lms
The Vision Quest
Jan 20, 2021 Episode 14
Canvas Product Team

A chat with Instructure CEO Steve Daly summarizing the vision for 2021 and further discussions about the 2021 product roadmaps with Shaun Moon and Kevin Turco, vice presidents of product.

Information about the podcast can be found in the Canvas TLDR Blog.


Canvas Roadmap:

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

A chat with Instructure CEO Steve Daly summarizing the vision for 2021 and further discussions about the 2021 product roadmaps with Shaun Moon and Kevin Turco, vice presidents of product.

Information about the podcast can be found in the Canvas TLDR Blog.


Canvas Roadmap:

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 (00:23):
Welcome everybody to the January edition of the TL;DR Canvas podcast. It's going to be a fun show. 2021. We, we made it through that last one.

Ryan Lufkin (00:33):
2021! We made it!

Jenn Mitchell (00:37):
Well, hindsight really is 2020.

Ryan Lufkin (00:38):
We'll never escape 2020 because of that, right. Everyone will always be saying hindsight.

Matt Goodwin (00:45):
Well, now I'm going to always think about that, thanks. We do have a good show. Forget the past, forget 2020. This is a, this is our vision quest episode. We pull out and lot of vision to share.

Ryan Lufkin (00:57):
Vision quest.

Matt Goodwin (01:04):
What do we have for the show?

Ryan Lufkin (01:06):
We are going to be joined by our illustrious Steve Daly, CEO of Instructure. Who's going to talk to us a little bit about, a little bit about the past, but you know, more importantly about the future and what we're going to expect in 2021.

Matt Goodwin (01:21):
We've got Shaun Moon VP of Canvas product. Who's going to be talking about the roadmap. What can we, what we can expect to see out of Canvas this coming year.

Jenn Mitchell (01:30):
Yeah. And then Kevin Turco swinging by—he's VP of product to talk about enhancements to Studio, mastery, connect, analytics, and more.

Ryan Lufkin (01:37):
Kevin's first time on the show. It's going to be awesome. Let's get to it.

Ryan Lufkin (01:43):
It is our very distinct pleasure to welcome Steve Daly, Instructure CEO, our boss of bosses, here on the show. Welcome Steve. Thanks for joining us.

Steve Daly (01:53):
Thanks for having me. Boss of bosses. I liked that.

Jenn Mitchell (01:58):
First-Time listener, first-time guest.

Steve Daly (02:00):
That's right. That's right. No, I'm excited. And you know, 2020 was one for the record books and and you know, we're looking really, we're really looking forward to 2021. So I'm happy to discuss what's coming down the pike for Instructure.

Jenn Mitchell (02:16):
Steve, you mentioned 2020. That was a year for the books, especially as we look for the educators and the students around the world. And I know that I have been proud to be a part of the Instructure community as we've rallied to meet those challenges. Can you just give us kind of a high-level recap? I know you joined the company in 2020 and what a time to do that.

Steve Daly (02:35):
Yeah, no, it's a, yeah. What a time to do that. And I couldn't be more excited. It was, it was crazy, right? So we were all dealing with COVID. We were all learning how to work remotely while our customers were learning how to teach and learn remotely. It was it was crazy—from a, from a company perspective. We also went through the take private during this time and you all got a new CEO, so that's a, that's a lot of change at the company. I think for me, the kind of the—a few of the big moments were one, the, just the change that happened at the company and, maybe just a little bit of focus on, you know, what changed really because I think a lot of people think, okay, we were public and now we're private, so, you know, but what's the difference.

Steve Daly (03:27):
And the difference is really, we decided now was the time to focus on education, right? We had been kind of splitting ourselves. We were kind of, you know, bipolar a little bit. We had—part of us was corporate. Part of us was education. And, and we you know, we, we decided we're all in on education. We're going, we're going we're going after higher ed and K-12. We did that just as, you know, just as things changed so dramatically for education. So we saw usage skyrocket as a company. And so our, our goal was really about how do we how do we make sure that anybody who needs access to Canvas has access to Canvas. It came at a really tough time, right? It came at a time when we were going into finals in the spring appearing in the Northern hemisphere and then getting ready for, for the fall start.

Steve Daly (04:19):
And so I'm really proud that we, the platform stayed up, but a few exceptions where it slowed down, but our platform was up throughout all of the craziness that went on in 2020. And this is a time when I think, you know, we, at one point we were the 14th most trafficked website in the US. And yet we were able to, to provide that infrastructure, all the other things that teachers and administrators are dealing with, we want to make sure we weren't part of the problem.

Ryan Lufkin (04:50):
I heard at one point we actually had more live users than Spotify. We had more users than Spotify, which is pretty big number.

Steve Daly (05:00):
Yeah. In fact, I looked—I looked at that number just recently. We're still above Spotify.

Matt Goodwin (05:07):
It doesn't mean that they're not listening to Spotify. They're just maybe doing both.

Matt Goodwin (05:13):
That's remote learning, I guess. Um you touched on this a little bit, Steve, and, you know, 2020 was a learning year for everybody, for educators, for businesses like ourselves. And you mentioned how we adapted and shifted from a business perspective. What about culturally—you know, how do you, how do you see the changes that have occurred from our business culturally and what are the things that, that you think need to remain the same?

Steve Daly (05:44):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, so a couple things. So when I, when I started, I went and talked—I probably talked about 200, 250 customers and as many employees and one of the first thing customers always told us is, look, we, we like working with Instructure people, right. They're, they're real you know, this doesn't feel super corporate. And and so that's one thing that we're, we're, we're trying to maintain, right. That's the one thing I want to make sure we don't lose in our culture going forward. You know, it's hard, it's hard when we're all remote, right. It's, it's hard to keep that kind of fun, you know culture. One of the focuses that we, we really put in, in the last kind of six months since I've been here is to be, make sure that what we're doing is it matters.

Steve Daly (06:37):
It matters to the company, right? We've gotta be a company that makes money. We, you know, we've got it, we've got to be built to last. We can't, we can't survive on, you know, other people's money. So we got to learn how to make money. We've also got to make sure that the things that we're doing really impact our customers. Right. So the other piece of feedback, frankly, I got was that we started a lot of things. But there were some really cool things that we kind of introduced that we'd never finished. And so, so part of what you know, part of what I'm trying to instill in the culture is let's just, let's be really good at the things we choose to do and not try to do a bunch of things and be kind of mediocre at all of them. So, so I think those are the two big things from a culture perspective. We want to maintain, you know, we're real people and we're here, you know, we're still mission focused. We're still here because what we do and what our customers more importantly do is, you know, has an impact on the world from an education perspective. And so we don't want to lose that. But we, we will become a little more disciplined in how we, you know, how we run the company and particularly how we deliver what our customers want.

Matt Goodwin (07:51):
That's super important. I mean, I've been here for a while and that is like the one consistent piece of feedback that I get from all the users is we just appreciate that you guys are there and that you're listening and that you're treating us like partners and, and you are real people. There is a culture of fun, but it also is a culture of focusing on what matters. And I think, you know as you mentioned earlier shifting focus to not dealing with so much of the corporate EDU side, but just K-20 getting really serious about doing those things well that says a lot, I I'm sure your users will appreciate that.

Ryan Lufkin (08:30):
Yeah. And then we're going to have Shaun Moon and Kevin Turco on a little bit later to talk through the roadmap piece, but one of the things I've been so excited about in general I've spent a lot of time on this, you know, recently is those are key initiatives in our roadmaps. And I feel like, I don't think our company's ever been as focused on what we're going to develop and we're going to play on our resources and we see that. And every time we've talked to any of our customers about it, or frankly, internally, when we talk about it too, we get really excited. And that's something that I think you've been, you've been driving.

Steve Daly (09:01):
I know for sure. You know, and, and, you know, we started by, you know, stating, we're going to focus on three things. We're going to focus on our culture. We're going to focus on our customers. And if we do those two things really well then Canvas and our, you know, in our products is the third C in Canvas is, is, we'll deliver the things that our customers need and that provide value. And so those that's kind of the three Cs is what we're focused on. And, and you're right. We spent, we spent quite a bit of time together just looking at what should we build what are some of the things that we should come to market with, you know, and I know you're gonna talk to Shaun and Kevin, but, you know, there's kind five priorities for this year.

Steve Daly (09:43):
One is core Canvas. We just got to make sure that the things we do on Canvas, you know, are, are things that people want and we don't neglect it. It's not, you know, it's not the thing we get to after we do all the cool, fun, you know, new stuff, but let's go refocus ourselves on core Canvas. We've got to be better at what we do with the data. And when, I mean data, I mean, you know, basically reporting, giving a teacher visibility in what's going on in the classroom, giving the school visibility what's going on in classrooms, and then the districts what's going on in the school. So that level of, of reporting and analytics, and then we do have initiatives to integrate some of our assessment technology into Canvas, more tightly, again, with the idea that if we can start to marry, you know, what, what is the teacher doing in the class?

Steve Daly (10:33):
And then what are the results from an assessment perspective, then we can start to give teachers really cool insights into one how to better teach and, and places that they can focus, but also give them some give them some view into how individuals are doing right, which is something that teachers have to do in their brains today, which is, you know, we can, we can take some of that burden off of them. And then video has become super important in this world. I don't think we're going to go back. It's still going to be a key part. And, and part of that is just because the learners today expect it, right, when they grow up on video, right.

Ryan Lufkin (11:11):
We've all got HD cameras in our pockets.

Steve Daly (11:13):
Exactly right. That's exactly right. And, and, and you know, we don't say, you know, my kids don't send texts, they send snapshots, right. And so we're, we're putting a lot of effort into improving how our teachers can, can organize and manage their video content. And then, and then we want to just continue to simplify the user experience for people as they come on. So there's not this big learning curve. So those are kind of the five areas of focus from a product perspective.

Matt Goodwin (11:41):
You know, you mentioned those five things and it sounds simple. It sounds maybe obvious being somebody in product and participating in the exercises to, to this point, it was really difficult. Like we've never been this particular or this focused on how we are planning and plotting out the course of the next year and what really matters to us. So I do want to say thank you for bringing that focus. Not only to us, but to our users, it's, it's a refreshing.

Ryan Lufkin (12:15):
And you mentioned the idea that we, we all sat in a room and kind of came up with together. This is one of the things I found so interesting is we had a very—we really did sit down in a room and it was a really diverse, you know, it was, it was people that represented customer success and people that represent the community and people that represent product and product marketing, and literally every, every single customer facing group within the company was represented. And we, and, and you literally said, okay, what's our focus. Let's, let's lay them out there. And we went through that process and it was amazing. I'd never seen a company do that and actually have the customer voice channeled through so many individuals, you know. It was, it was, it was awesome and collaborative, and I was excited to be part of it.

Steve Daly (12:56):
No, I knew it was, it was, it was very powerful, you know, it's, it's, it's not rocket science, right. I mean I, I, after five customer interviews, I knew discussions was a problem, right. That, you know, that Quizzes Next was, it was, you know, it was going to be something we had to fix. And so but, but that the, the, the, the art in it is how do you then get everybody aligned around it? And then you know, one of the things it's going to be—I don't know if it's cultural shift, but it is a big part of, of it's, it's a change maybe in people's behaviors—is how we communicate back, you know, what, what, what we are doing. Right. And, and, and that, that I've heard that in my whole career, right. Well, I, I asked for something and then I never heard back what are you doing with that? And so, so we are going to improve how we do that as well from a product delivery perspective.

Jenn Mitchell (13:52):
And speaking of having everybody in the same room and getting, you know, all of our customers represented, we've seen a big surge in K-12 usage and emphasis. We know that we have just acquired Certica, which is an exciting development. I came over with MasteryConnect in 2019, but I think what's so exciting is to see both K-12 and higher ed represented in a very powerful way in connecting that K-20 experience for all of our users.

Steve Daly (14:22):
You're absolutely right. And part of the things that changed at Instructure in 2020 was, you know, there were, there were a lot of K-12 schools, right, that just didn't need to see the need for a remote, remote learning tool, like an LMS. And they were kind of pushed into it, right? This, this became, it wasn't an option anymore. And so we saw a lot of growth in our K-12 business this year. We believe we're, you know, we're, we're now the market share leader in K-12 for us. It provides a great opportunity to, to have some sort of consistency from a student perspective, from when they're, you know, from their elementary, all the way through their high school experience. And then into, as they go into university you know, it'll be a common experience for them. And in my, my kids were that way.

Steve Daly (15:14):
They were, they, we used here in Utah, we use Canvas is used across the state, K-20. And so for them, it was just such a nice, easy transition from, from high school into university. And they were used to, to how to do that. And, you know, part of a big part of our strategy is now how do we extend that past the four walls in higher ed? I've probably been on six or eight calls with higher ed customers in the last two and a half weeks. And every one of them is, is really trying to understand how do we, you know, how do we extend what we do to those non-traditional students, whether it's executive education, continuing education, or just, you know people that want to finish their degree, or they you know, they're, they're just looking for skills training re-skilling those types of things. And so a big part of our strategy and some of the areas that we're looking from an M&A (merger and acquisition) perspective is how do we now extend this platform past the four walls.

Steve Daly (16:16):
A non-traditional zone, right.

Matt Goodwin (16:19):
Yeah, exactly. So that's an exciting part. And, and like I said, we're going to, we're looking at some organic development. We're looking at M&A, and M&A will be a key part of our strategy going forward.

Ryan Lufkin (16:30):
Speaking of that, like, as we look at 2021, like what, we've talked a little bit about it, but what, what do you get excited about from 2021 that coincides with that M&A?

Steve Daly (16:41):
Yeah, I, you know, I think we're excited about you know, the opportunity to do two things. One is we're getting more as we, we talked about quite a bit so far as, you know, we want to make sure that Canvas continues to be the, you know, the best way for schools to deliver content and be, you know, deliver a learning experience. But we're, we're also looking at how do we then provide more and more tools that our customers use so we can provide more and more value, tight integration, those types of things. So we'll continue to be open and we'll continue to use you know, let everybody integrate with us as we've always done in the past. But we're looking at areas assessment, you know, clearly we made an acquisition already in assessment online and traditional—non traditional are areas that we're looking to expand into student success. So there are a number of areas that we're looking at again, broadening the platform, providing more value for our customers and doing it in a way that they can take advantage of the culture of, of Instructure as well as really cool products that we bring to market.

Matt Goodwin (17:55):
You touched on this earlier, and I think you said it really well, you know, we want to be really good at focusing on a handful of things and delivering value in those handful of things. We know that some problems are hard to solve with technology and there's fabulous products out there that do a good job of solving that one particular problem. So I think our ability to focus reinvesting in Canvas—the core and build it up as a platform. So we can look at these other solutions, these other partners that do things in a very elegant way and invite them into the fold, so to speak and you know, provide that level of excellence for our end users through products that have had time to bake. And, and we don't have to start from scratch and go develop these things from the ground up.

Steve Daly (18:42):
That's right. That's exactly right. And, and, and it's, it's you know, frankly, I think it's better for our customer experience too. 'Cause You know, we start to build something that there's already kind of a world-class solution out there. Then customers now have to say, okay, well I can do 20% of what this solution does in Canvas. So when do I use Canvas for this? When do I go buy a separate tool for this? So, you know, part of it is looking at bringing best—you know—best in class technologies onto the platform going forward.

Matt Goodwin (19:16):
Anything keep you up at night, looking into 2021?

Steve Daly (19:19):
Yeah, there's lots of things that keep me up at night. But you know, the thing that I worry about is what happens in education going forward. There's a lot of pressures on, on teachers. There's a lot of pressures on institutions worldwide and trying to kind of read the tea leaves, you know, what does this look like? Once we have a vaccine, right? And once we hit that, you know, herd immunity level what does, you know, how, how can, what we do—you know, what we do, isn't just for teaching when somebody can't come to the classroom. So how do we, how do we make sure that, you know, the benefits for instance of an assessment is, now the teacher doesn't have to grade all these papers for their assessment. They can get that right away, you know, they've got, and then, then we can help them sort through the data. Right now they do in their head, a lot of this, okay, well, how's, how's Johnny doing, or how's Susie doing. Right.

Steve Daly (20:14):
And we can, we can take some of that off so that they can stay focused on, on what they do well, which is teaching. Right. And so so what keeps me awake is figuring out, okay, what, how do we do that in a way that allows them to be the most, the, the most successful, because research has shown that, you know, class size doesn't really matter in student outcomes. What matters is the quality of teaching at the front of the classroom. We believe we can we can amplify that for teaching and learning. And, and so figuring out how to do that while our customers are dealing with so much change is what keeps me awake today.

Ryan Lufkin (20:55):
Well, it's going to be an exciting year. I mean, I think the spur a couple of weeks in, it's already a little bit of a roller coaster. Everybody's hoping that it calms down a little bit when we get back to the business of teaching and focus, you know, pretty much every aspect of our lives, but we're excited to have you on board and, and guiding the ship here. Any words out to our audience, you know, as we kind of head into the new year?

Steve Daly (21:17):
I think I, I'd just love to say thank you. You know, I have family members and very close friends that teach. I've talked to a lot of our our customers who are teachers. And particularly for the teachers, this has been such a challenge. You know we're talking about changing, you know pedagogies you're using to, you know, as well as figuring out technology, as well as dealing with a lot of emotional issues both in the teacher community, as well as in the students. And, you know, it's just been, it's been my heart goes out to you. And so thank you, thank you because what you're doing matters.

Matt Goodwin (22:01):
Thanks for joining us. Thanks for sharing your insights and your thoughts. It's been an absolute pleasure. Well, we'll definitely have to have you back sometime throughout the year to give updates.

Steve Daly (22:14):
Any time.

Matt Goodwin (22:14):
We'd like to welcome to the program, Shaun Moon, VP of product. Hey,

Ryan Lufkin (22:19):
Welcome. Happy 2021.

Shaun Moon (22:22):
Happy 2021 indeed. It's going to be the best year of this whole year.

Matt Goodwin (22:31):
Not just an extra long segment of 2021...

Ryan Lufkin (22:35):
Hard stop.

Shaun Moon (22:38):
I rebooted my computer on December 31st, so everything's going to work. Great.

Matt Goodwin (22:43):
Well, welcome to the show. We're super excited to have Shaun. He's gonna tell us a little bit about the upcoming year and what's on the roadmap. We've recently published the roadmap to the community space, which is available to everybody, go out and check it out. And he's gonna walk us through it a little bit. What's the structure? How did we get to that place? And so on.

Shaun Moon (23:04):
Thanks again for having me here. It's a pretty exciting time. There's been a lot going on in Canvas land. As part of all the strategic activities that are going on at Instructure our new CEO, Steve Daly, came in the summer of 2020. It doesn't maybe feel like maybe it's fair to call him new anymore, but he's, he's made some really wonderful changes to the way we're doing product and thinking holistically and even more strategically about how we make decisions in all of our products. And it's been really fantastic for me to be a part of that process. As many folks have heard in September convened a group of the senior leadership throughout Instructure to talk about what we wanted to really focus on in 2021, across the whole of our EDU products that we deliver to serve customers. And one of the really exciting outcomes of those conversations from my point of view is a real tight focus on what we decided to call the learning management core four areas, and the decision to focus on these four areas—ease of use data, reporting analytics, collaboration, and integrations—is of course, driven by our passion to make teaching and learning better, to focus on empowering teachers and enriching the learning experience for students of all ages.

Shaun Moon (24:42):
And and so, yeah, I'm excited to walk through some of the things that we're working on in each of these four areas. And just to talk with the community about.

Matt Goodwin (24:52):
What were those four areas again?

Shaun Moon (24:54):
So the first is ease of use, you know, this is something that Instructure and Canvas says, how does a real dear part of the ethos kind of yeah. So simplicity has been one of our, our calling cards and something that we've always strived to improve. So this is, is not really indifferent, but just kind of, I guess you can call a doubling down and really clarifying dedication throughout the Canvas research and development organization on ease of use.

Shaun Moon (25:27):
The second is data reporting and analytics. And as we've seen a lot of changes to how, how learning happens in 2020, because of the pandemic, we've recognized a need to provide a lot more access to insights through data. And a couple of ways that we'll look at doing that are of course, by making raw data available. Canvas data 2 is something that a lot of institutions are really interested in, being able to get snapshots of data in a more timely fashion, and also to get just changes or updates between time periods. So raw data access is one aspect of that. And also we're going to be providing more out of the box reports. So that's the second of those. And we can talk a little bit more about, about that as well.

Shaun Moon (26:16):
Collaboration is the third area of focus in the learning management core four. And that's an obvious, an obvious pick because of the shifting dynamics—the delivery of teaching, the experience of learning in groups is very different than it has ever been. And so improving the suite of tools that we have for our learning community is really important in terms of collaboration.

Shaun Moon (26:46):
And then the last of those is integrations, kind of a nice bookmark to something that has been a part of who we are from the very beginning in terms of being an open system and open platform, focusing on integrations and increasing the capability of institutions to create tools that serve themselves as well as third-party developers, to make more capability that can be integrated into folks usage of Canvas is that fourth one.

Matt Goodwin (27:15):
Awesome. I know you've, you've recently put a blog post out for Instructure and in there you know, when we're talking about this earlier, Ryan said, I love how you said, I love my job. So maybe expand on that a little bit. You love your job. We've got these core four that that we've identified, like, what gets you jazzed about your job and about the future of this year as it pertains to those four areas?

Shaun Moon (27:41):
Yeah, I mean, sometimes it feels insane to say I love my job with as much work there has been over the last few months. I've never been pushed to the limits more. You know, we've got so much going on, and adopting new processes for decision-making has not been easy. We have also seen so much change in positive ways for the customers that we serve and talking to K-12 institutions, talking to higher ed institutions around the globe and hearing the impact that, that we have made has just been so invigorating for me. And when it comes to how that, you know, the relationship between the feedback that we're getting from teachers and students and administrators throughout the Canvas community, and what we're looking at doing for 2021, there is, there is a real nice I guess I would say harmony between some of those things that we're, we're working on.

Shaun Moon (28:44):
You know, over the last, last several months, as we've talked to people about some of these ideas and shown some prototypes and giving them [a] peek into some of the data and reports that we're making available, just the positivity that we're getting back from people and saying, I'm so excited about annotation tools for students. I'm so excited for attendance reporting and the, the opportunity to tick some boxes for folks who have invested in us and, and to kind of invest back in them is really exciting.

Ryan Lufkin (29:21):
Yeah. I think it's interesting too, like, as we've done this internally, I really super excited to have a very specific focus and a direction. Right. And we really dialed that in. And the customers we've shared it with really are as excited as we are internally. So, yeah.

Shaun Moon (29:37):
Yeah, that's really cool. I think some of the things that folks are well, you know, and most excited about, in some cases, it does depend on what type of institution you're a part of. We are giving some real dedicated attention and investment to the K-12 space in particular to the K-5 space, which is really exciting to be able to take that ease of use, area of focus and, and create opportunities for, like I said earlier, learners of all ages. It's pretty cool to one day be on the phone with some of the most prestigious universities around the world and talk about how we're going to improve the teaching and learning experience. And then the next day be talking about how to make Canvas more accessible for early literacy students in kindergarten and first grade. So that's, that's pretty exciting to really be investing in that promise of K- 20 teaching and learning.

Jenn Mitchell (30:44):
Yeah. And as we look at the work that was done for those K-5 users, ease of use is of use just like you said, whether, whether it's emergent readers or pre-emergent readers, or like the old, you know, in grad school, making something easy, floats all boats across the board. And we're really excited to look at those and see those come out throughout the year.

Shaun Moon (31:04):
Yeah, absolutely. And, and, you know, there there's, there's still, like you said, Jenn, ease of use is ease of use, improving collaboration is going to be great for everyone. Making data available for institutions is going to be beneficial across the board. And, and it's, it's pretty awesome to be a part of an organization that that delivers tools where a student from a first day of school to, you know, going into the end of business school is going to have something that's familiar over the course of a decade-plus of their learning experience in each of these areas. You know, we talked about ease of use. We talked about a couple of specific projects. What gets you the most pumped about this year? Or what do you maybe different? What do you think is going to excite the teachers in the classroom the most this coming year based on what you've seen so far?

Shaun Moon (32:01):
Yeah, I think there are two things that are particularly exciting when we started to really think in the summer of 2020 about how the Canvas research and development organization could reflect what's going on in the classroom. One of the things that we did is we constituted teams around the learning cycle where students are learning content, gaining mastery of content, and demonstrating their understanding of a domain and then subject matter experts evaluate it. So this kind of learning cycle, sometimes I called the microscopic learning experience, is at the heart of what we're doing with with Canvas R&D (research and development). And there are two places that I think we're making some investment that will be really beneficial. One of those is around the assignments and the feedback loop, because that is a loop and students are putting out their kind of their, their best understanding of content, the feedback that comes from subject matter experts.

Shaun Moon (33:07):
So that comes from their teachers is so critical to their learning development, that I'm, I'm particularly excited. And we've got some, some good feedback about how we're improving the process of finding and submitting your assignments and getting feedback from teachers and also making it more efficient for teachers to give that feedback. So making feedback more clear and more prominent, and also making feedback generation more efficient with things like comment libraries for teachers and other space that I think is, is really going to be beneficial is to improve Canvas discussions because collaboration is such a big deal right now. Improving the collaboration through discussions is is one that I think is going to be really beneficial.

Matt Goodwin (33:56):
So besides what we've talked about, what should our users know about the upcoming roadmap? I'm going to the community space for the first time to check in on a new roadmap? What should I be looking out for?

Shaun Moon (34:08):
In addition to the assignments and feedback improvements, the collaboration and discussion improvements? I think some of the highlights, you know, mentioned the access to raw data in the data reporting and analytics space. I think that some of the, the work that we've got going for 2021 in reporting is going to be really exciting. So I kind of think about it along two dimensions. One is, what is the set of reports that we're going to provide that first give just—I would call it a basic but important picture of student attendance. And this is applicable in K-12 as in higher ed, as we've talked to with institutions about that, you know, higher ed institutions that want to be able to do attendance reporting for financial aid purposes or academic eligibility for athletes. Attendance is important for K-12 institutions that need to do to improve the attendance tracking process in this kind of hybrid remote distance landscape.

Shaun Moon (35:19):
Making that more efficient is going to be really, really beneficial. That's kind of at one end of this spectrum of how much our students [are] doing, how much are students engaging. And the other end of the spectrum is like what's for us to, to give a picture of engagement—whether it's student engagement or how engaging or captivating different content is that gets to a much richer kind of data story. So that we'll also be working on. The other side of that reporting thing that I think is also going to be really cool is what we call tech adoption reports that give a picture of how much Canvas is being used. How much of the attached third-party and LTI tools are being used and helping administrators have a better picture of Canvas's adoption throughout the institution.

Matt Goodwin (36:18):
It sounds like there's a ton of new ways to gather insights on how the users are actually using the LMS and what the learners are doing and what tools are being integrated. This is awesome. This is going to be really great. Since it's a roadmap, there's also an element of timing, right? I go out there and it will tell me when these things are going to drop?

Shaun Moon (36:38):
Yep. So if you go to, you can see a rolling three months of what's coming up in the very next three months, and then we'll start to have more of the quarters and what's planned for later in the year that that will be available. Of course, since it is a roadmap—and this is what I thought you were going to say that it's subject to change based on, you know, changing conditions in the education landscape, kind of like what happened in March and April—we totally changed the roadmap. I don't want to expect something that dramatic to happen again, but there are also other considerations that come into play that, that impact timing and scope of what happens in a roadmap. So we've as I've since November and through December been meeting with customers and talking about the roadmap really openly, we've had really great response to folks saying, yeah, I totally get it. Roadmaps are subject to change. Instructure is an agile and, and adaptive organization. One of the things that we appreciate about Instructure, but yeah, we're, we're gonna keep our roadmaps fresh and keep them up to date. But they, that, that doesn't mean they, they will change a little bit over time.

Matt Goodwin (37:57):
And obviously the closer we are to something the more accurate we will be. I think we've got a, an internal goal of being pretty crisp and solid on a rolling quarter basis, and anything further out it's an ideal target and what we think is going to happen, but like you said, is subject to change—did I state that correctly?

Shaun Moon (38:18):
Yep. That's absolutely right.

Ryan Lufkin (38:19):
Well, and it is important to know too, like some we've got flexibility is, is also sometimes helpful. You know, we pulled the, the course quick reports and then, you know, earlier in the fourth year, last year, right. They, they well ahead of schedule. And, and so it goes both ways, a little bit, as we, as we move stuff even forward, it's not always backwards.

Shaun Moon (38:36):
Totally. That's absolutely right. And we've seen some of that even in just the last week, some things moving forward in the integration space, which was one of our, one of our core four areas of focus, to have some of the LTI advantage capabilities that we want to make available in Canvas moved up a couple of quarters. So that's absolutely true.

Ryan Lufkin (38:59):

Matt Goodwin (39:00):
Well, thank you for joining us, Shaun, tons of great insights and cool things up and coming for this year. You're a rock star and we appreciate having you on the show.

Shaun Moon (39:11):
I appreciate being on the show.

Ryan Lufkin (39:13):
You're one of our favorite guests.

Shaun Moon (39:14):
I'm also one of my favorite guests.

Matt Goodwin (39:16):
But more importantly, we appreciate having you here at Instructure. You're a tremendously leader for product, thank you for sharing some time with us.

Shaun Moon (39:26):
This is the best team I've ever had the privilege of being a part of. So it's a, it's an absolute delight.

Matt Goodwin (39:32):
All right. Thanks.

Jenn Mitchell (39:33):
Well, hello, Kevin Turco. Welcome to the TL;DR podcast. I think this is your first time joining us, right?

Kevin Turco (39:42):
It is! Happy to be here.

Ryan Lufkin (39:44):
I thought we'd forced this upon you before?

Matt Goodwin (39:48):
He got out of it, I think.

Kevin Turco (39:50):
I felt left out until now. So I really feel appreciated you bring me into the fold.

Jenn Mitchell (39:56):
Well, welcome aboard. You are joining us to talk about, we, we talked with Shaun about enhancements coming to kind of core Canvas, but you are the VP of product for all those that we have actually called ad-ons, but those other products that work with Canvas, so we just wanted to go over roadmap and see what's kind of what we have planned for 2020.

Kevin Turco (40:19):
Yeah. So as you mentioned I work with teams to facilitate it and development and product releases on our Instructure branded products that are add ons to core Canvas. So that includes Studio, Portfolium MasteryConnect, Canvas catalog, and also a little bit with commons as well. And, and in that and we're very excited about what's happening this year. I think as maybe has been touched upon earlier, we, we really emphasize as a, as a platform and a larger sort of ecosystem of products that are focused on teaching and learning. And we're really seeing the trust and the engagement around some of these add-on products, as you know, the shift to COVID has happened. And we look at some real key needs we think these products are solving. So I, I can't be more thrilled about where we're headed this year.

Matt Goodwin (41:20):
What are some of the differences structurally, you know, you mentioned the products that you're over and that change just kind of took place this last year. So what has that change enabled us to do for those products and for our users that have some needs within those products?

Kevin Turco (41:38):
Changes in terms of how we're organizing as a team and how we're structured structuring

Matt Goodwin (41:46):
How's this going to be different than last year?

Kevin Turco (41:48):
That's a good question. So what's been exciting to come in and look across all of our products. With one lens has really helped us to identify ways that we can standardize processes and ways we can really look how products get it added onto and integrated with core Canvas. So MasteryConnect and Portfolium are two companies that we have been integrating into core Canvas over the past couple years. And, you know, we've identified some opportunities for us to accelerate those integrations as we look at the processes and in doing so, and really starting from Canvas and expanding out to those different products it's been there's a lot of efficiencies we can gain and a lot of best practices that we've learned over the past year or so.

Kevin Turco (42:43):
And you'll see that in the roadmap work we're doing this year for both of those products, in particular with MasteryConnect. We are, we're focused on our deeper more seamless integration between our core Canvas teaching and learning in courses and assessments to that more robust assessment management system and MasteryConnect, and really tying back the MasteryConnect trackers to the course, tying in the assessments and assessment creation workflow from Canvas and MasteryConnect. So, you know, that's, that's our biggest push right now this year in MasteryConnect is to, is to really connect the dots between teaching and learning to that assessment.

Jenn Mitchell (43:27):
That is huge news, especially as we're looking to address that learning loss, that the COVID related learning loss and the focus that we're going to have next year is assessment is going to become critical as we're looking at standards, land data. So for our users out there who are using MasteryConnect and Canvas, this is a game changer.

Matt Goodwin (43:44):
Or who are not, you know, it's something to look into. I mean, I can't tell you the number of school districts or institutions that I've spoken with over the last nine months that are still trying to figure out how to recover some of that good teaching and learning.

Kevin Turco (43:59):
Yeah. And, you know, in that similar vein, what we're seeing a lot of you know, since last March, is the uptick of video use. And you know, our, our usage of from our customer base on Studio has gone up significantly since March. And then we've even since March, we've doubled our our, our usage heading into fall start. And so the need for both synchronous and asynchronous learning from a distance and using video is now more important than ever. And so we're focusing on Studio as one of our major initiatives this year and really trying to help in two lanes of product development, the first being teaching and learning tools themselves. So we're looking at annotations and getting that into Studio as well as other tools like video editing are things that we're all looking at this year.

Kevin Turco (44:56):
And then on that second lane where we're really helping to facilitate that overall management of video and media within Canvas. And so we'll be looking at ways to facilitate better sharing of videos and also better integration with some of those third-party tools such as zoom or Microsoft teams to help facilitate more of a comprehensive management system. So we're, we're excited about the usage that we're seeing in Studio, and we're excited to really lean into features there to help make that more useful for both teachers and admin.

Ryan Lufkin (45:37):
The ability to measure engagement right through that data. You and I have talked about how data for a long time, but making sure that we're tracking those interactions. How effective they are?

Kevin Turco (45:43):
That's right. And, you know, you may have heard from Shaun, him talk about Canvas and analytics and the work we're doing there this year and Studios is a part of that conversation. And just making sure that our instructors, our teachers, our administrators, are not in the dark in terms of where student engagement's happening and specifically around video. So we're excited about that.

Matt Goodwin (46:06):
So, you know, we've talked about a little bit of the things that are probably not so surprising, you know obviously with asynchronous learning video is going to become more and more important as well as analytics, you know, how engaged are students, how effective is the teaching? Are there any surprises that have come out of the last nine months that, you know, you looked at that?

Kevin Turco (46:25):
You know, I think we're, we're seeing a, a big, bigger push in sort of the virtual online space than you know, has previously happened. I think, especially as you, you know, as you look at higher ed and what's happening with students who are looking at maybe alternative ways or you know, different ways to engage in learning at the higher ed level. And so, you know, Portfolium has actually gotten a lot of has gotten a lot of buzz around it in terms of requests from customers. And there's been a lot of feedback on, you know, how can we help facilitate a portfolio that is useful for students as they maybe explore those different avenues through their teaching and learning in it. And even in K-12, as we think about us going into career development or into careers out of high school, and just thinking, what does that portfolio look like for a student as they enter the workforce?

Kevin Turco (47:22):
And so this year we are, as I mentioned earlier, we're working on making sure that our integration with Portfolium and Canvas is a little more robust specifically around assignment as passing information back and forth and connecting the portfolio data and portfolio a little bit more robustly, but we're also working on ways to help facilitate the implementation of Portfolium and and help for teachers and administrators to more effectively onboard and manage enrollments. And and then lastly, you know, as we think about those avenues for student pathways and you know, to their door to graduation we'll be working on opportunities to streamline some workloads on badging and other tools to help the pathway.

Ryan Lufkin (48:16):
We've talked a lot about that, you know, those non-traditional learners, we talked to Steve about that earlier, those non-traditional learners going back to reskill or upskill, and maybe trade career paths and how impactful, you know, that badging and that proof of, of skill that, that portfolio facilitates is so important.

Kevin Turco (48:35):
We touched on a couple of different points here around assessments with MasteryConnect, and we've talked about analytics and the need for understanding engagement and also student profiles, and trying to really help understand where students are at in their learning journey. And with that, we are extremely excited about a new set of products that are coming into the fold with Instructure. And that is with the acquisition of, of Certica and really the, probably the most the thing I'm most excited about in this coming year and that we now have the ability in K-12 to offer a complete package, to help understand where students are at, in their learning and offer them ways to have pathways into teaching and learning to help fill those gaps in those skills. And so with that acquisition, we have content from assessments.

Kevin Turco (49:38):
We have robust analytics now that can tie in to your student information system where the third-party assessment systems and understand how you're tracking toward those benchmark or state exams. And also, you know, as we look at the standards alignment, and really looking at competency-based learning with economic benchmarks, I think we have a great opportunity there to to connect the assessments to learning. And so those are, you know, those are, those are things that when you think of K-12 in particular, but I, you know, I think broadly when you think about the assessment instruction and analytics as a trifecta, I think, you know, we're, we're poised to really have an impact and help in the coming year.

Ryan Lufkin (50:24):
Well, and I think no, one's really, even in higher ed co is really kind of that assessment conversation. And, you know, that grading like is traditional grading really as effective as we want it to be in measuring skill mastery. Right. And things like that. And so I think, you know, even though Certica has been highly focused on K-12, I think there is a bigger conversation around assessment that is, is definitely happening within the higher ed space.

Jenn Mitchell (50:46):
And I think it's connecting those dots between what are students learning and how are they learning, right. And how do we improve those outcomes with tools like Studio and, you know, how are they consuming that content? And I, I really like how that's bringing a holistic view into student learning.

Kevin Turco (51:03):
The opportunities there are broad from K-12 and higher ed, which is, you know, I'm really excited about.

Ryan Lufkin (51:10):
I mean, you've got a lot on your plate for 2021, Kevin. It's exciting. No shortage of exciting things to work on.

Kevin Turco (51:18):
It's it's, it's been a lot of fun and the teams are great and we're delivering even on you know, on, on Canvas catalog, which is another product in higher ed that we've, you know, have a team dedicated to and we've started to chip away at some of the features there that have been highly requested. And so, you know, we're, we're, we're busy on all fronts this year. And I look forward to, you know, more updates as we, as we get through the year. And we and we deliver on some of the things from Q1 to Q2. And I think our back to school coming up this year is going to be, is going to be highly impactful. And I can't be more excited.

Matt Goodwin (51:58):
Great. Maybe we'll let you take another break this next holiday season.

Kevin Turco (52:03):
As you know, I, I hail from from Seattle. And so it's it's always touch and go around the holidays in terms of weather. And we had a couple of, of really sunny days and and I was able to take use of them and, and the rest were you know, catching up on my cereals. And my programs. It was good.

Ryan Lufkin (52:25):
We haven't had you on up to this point, but this will definitely not be your last.

Kevin Turco (52:36):
I'm always excited to chat. This is great. Thanks everyone. Take care.

Ryan Lufkin (52:42):
And that's a wrap for the Canvas TL;DR podcast. The first episode of 2021, starting off right.

Matt Goodwin (52:48):
It should be an exciting year based on everything that we heard.

Jenn Mitchell (52:52):
Yeah. Consider our vision quest complete for the month, and we'll see you all in February.

Ryan Lufkin (52:56):
Quested. Bye, everybody.

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 We'll see you next month. Bye!

2020 Recap, 2021 Vision—Steve Daly
2021 Canvas Roadmap Recap—Shaun Moon
2021 Canvas Add-on Products Roadmap Recap—Kevin Turco