We (Chris and Ben) attended the very first InstrcutureCon on Aug. 1st and 2nd. It was a very well run conference. I tip my hat to Cade and Sunny for putting together a great conference. Those in attendance might not have realized it was their first attempt at organizing a conference. Well done! (Even though Sunny was always on my back about being in sessions at the wrong time.)
Here is my top 10 things I liked about the conference.
10. The opportunity to present. Chris and I ran a session about learning outcomes. I’m not saying this to toot my own horn (maybe a little), but it was great to share with the Canvas community. The questions that were asked and some of the contacts we made were fantastic!
9. It is nice to know we aren’t alone. When we started using Canvas in the Summer of 2010 we were fairly isolated. I never would have thought that we would be at a conference 1 year later with over 200 people in attendance.
8. Demonstration of the new Canvas app for iOS 5. This is an app specifically for students using Canvas. It is very impressive and will be rolled out shortly after Apple releases iOS 5 this fall.
7.OER Glue- I met a guy from OER Glue who probably has just the solution for our challenge at Westminster for searching for open education reseources
6.Canvas support. I’ll be honest Canvas support has needed a boost. They have grown so fast that their support team has been overworked and understaffed. I attended a session by David Szoke who joined the support team a month ago and I was very impressed!
5. Cory Stokes and Kevin Reeves- What can I say? These guys are amazing and it is cool for a small school guy like me to be able to get information from them. It is cool to see their enthusiasm for Canvas. I love to see others as excited about LMS features as I am!
4. If it aint Bracken, don’t fix it. Bracken is the migration expert at Instructure. He had a session about migrating content and it convinced me that a campus-wide migration is possible and not that intimidating. I also liked him because he quoted me and the Canvas Guys blog!
3. Product development cycle. There were a couple sessions about the Canvas development cycle. Zach Wily presented how they handle bugs and Brian Whitmer discussed the process for adding new features. What is really cool to me is their new product testing tool that they use. They are able to create new features and patches every other week rather than monthly because of it. I don't know any other LMS that can develop and release as rapidly as these guys.
2. Awesome bag. Seriously, who gives out an Ogio bag as part of attending a conference?! Overall this conference is a tremendous value. Canvas only charged $175 (early bird) for attending the conference and that provides lots of food, an amazing bag and comfortable conference rooms. I'm not sure how they did this with only two event sponsors. BBworld cost over $500, had probably 50 sponsors and their bag sucked.
1. Lunch with CEO Josh Coates. I was lucky enough to sit at the table where Josh was sitting. I got to ask him some questions I’ve wanted to ask him for a long time. For example, I asked him about his WWII collection including his tank. He has a tank that is fully functional. He talked about how he will take it out with Boy Scouts and shoot it. He also has a very cool collection of guns including ones manufactured by IBM and Oldsmobile. I also asked him a question that I already knew the answer to, but I had to ask it. “What if somebody wants to buy Instructure?” His answer was pretty solid. I could tell he meant it, he doesn’t want to sell, especially not to Blackboard. He was very adamant about that. He knows that Blackboard would kill what they have. He also said that they have a goal is to get to half a billion dollars in value and then hopefully be able to go public. He was also very surprised and excited by all the growth during the last year. He was very kind to visit with us and very down-to-Earth. I can see why he has been successful. I can see why his employees enjoy working with him.
The quote of the conference has to come from somebody else sitting at my table for lunch. I'm not sure his name, but he was from New Mexico and he said something like this: “We are on a state contract with Blackboard which has been awful, but there has been one good thing to come from it. It has helped us to bond with all the other schools in New Mexico because we have had to band together to deal with all the problems with Blackboard”. So, I guess Blackboard isn't all that bad.