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The Study Hall

What we’re doing with Canvas LMS in 2020

Canvas is a significant part of a student’s experience at an important time in their lives. I heard that from my daughter in high school. I hear that from my son and his friends at the university. One of the most memorable times I heard it was from my daughter-in-law, Candice.

During a family gathering, she took me aside and said, “I want to show you something” as she opened her laptop. Instead of the normal to-do list, we saw a sleeping Panda. “I’m all caught up! I love Canvas!”

Candice will graduate this spring as the first person to achieve this goal in her family. Over the course of her educational journey, she’s shared how the small moments of encouragement in Canvas have motivated her to keep going. We may see that encouragement as a comment in a discussion thread or from a helpful annotation on an assignment from a teacher. Motivation always originates from another person who cares. Even the sleeping Panda or the desert landscape on an empty to-do list were created by one of our designers who wanted to give a smile to a diligent learner.

The Canvas experience always comes back to connecting people.

When my team and I were evaluating our product development plan for 2020, we spent a lot of time collecting feedback from multiple sources: CSMs, Sales, Customer Support, the Community, our own usage metrics, and as many customers and users as we could involve. While we have always tried to focus our product development on improving teaching and learning, this year we asked ourselves another question that focused on immediate impact: What product capabilities will capture the enthusiasm of our users such that they would want to share the stage at InstructureCon and demonstrate what they have done within Canvas to a few thousand educators and administrators?

Over the next few months, as we get ready for InstructureCon and eventually ‘fall start’ in the Northern Hemisphere, you will see many enhancements roll out in Canvas, Studio, and our mobile apps. An overview is as follows:

  • For students and parents we are focusing on communication and encouragement both in the web and mobile experience. This includes better student control over notifications, an improved planner experience on mobile, and enhanced messaging in the parent app.
  • For teachers, we are focusing on helping you be more efficient in Canvas and Studio content creation, content sharing, and administrative tasks so you can spend more time teaching and connecting with students.
  • For administrators, we are helping you be more effective in your role by delivering enhanced granular permission control, more frequent Canvas Data, and more APIs and Live Events.

You will see these and other enhancements announced in our release notes and Canvas TL;DR Podcast every month as we complete them. I invite you to share your feedback on the community Ideas space. One of our themes for the year is improving our customer experience—in the product and in the community. So I would love your feedback about both.

So often in R&D, we miss the connection with the people that are using our products every day. Just the other day, I was eating lunch with a couple of engineers who work on Canvas. They wanted to be sure that the things they are working on right now really matter. Not that they matter to me or the company. But that they matter to you, our users. So let us know if we’re on target and give us a quick bit of feedback. You don’t even have to type!

Keep Learning!
Steve Townsend