The Courseware Support team has returned from the scenic climbs of Park City, Utah ready and eager to apply for our users’ benefit the knowledge we acquired at InstructureCon 2015. We made a lot of new friends; learned invaluable information in workshops led by Canvas gurus; and avoided sunburn, dehydration, and the ever-dreaded altitude sickness (less learned from InstructureCon 2014!). Before we start sharing our new Canvas smarts on this blog (which we’ll do soon–stay tuned!), we wanted to address a rather important component of the conference, one which framed the experience and made it truly transformative for us. Amid the depth and breadth of experiences at InstructureCon 2015, the most poignant insight we took from it was a rather simple message–empathy is an important part of our jobs.
During the first keynote of InstructureCon 2015, Josh Coates, Instructure CEO, said, “universal design is driven by empathy,” and this sentiment set the tone for the rest of the conference. For each session we attended, the topics under discussion foregrounded the Canvas user experience and were inclusive of all possible users (teachers, students, staff, etc.). The conversations we had in and out of sessions centered on questions like “How will this (method, tool, suggestion, etc.) affect users?” Answers to these questions weren’t just hypothetical, as many teachers from colleges and universities from across the world shared their concerns.
It was evident that Instructure were listening carefully to these teachers, and the same can be said for the technical and support people in attendance. The quality of conversation around sundry topics, everything from the mundane to the sophisticated and esoteric, derived from the basic assumption that to serve our users, we must first empathize with them.
We’d like to thank Instructure, the presenters, and our fellow attendees for making InstructureCon 2015 such a rewarding, enriching event! Thank you all! As for our dear readers, please keep checking the blog for posts about what we learned and how we will use this knowledge to help Canvas users at the University of Pennsylvania!