Washington Canvas Users Group Conference (WACUG) 2013

A gaggle* of us had the wonderful opportunity to go to the first ever Washington Canvas Users Group Conference last week. The conference went over two days and was held at the beautiful campus of Tacoma Community College. I got pretty excited because there were celebrities at the conference! You might consider my use of that word to be broad, but I was pretty darn excited to see some of the folks from Canvas fly into Utah for our conference. Not only did they bring some sweet swag (you should see my shiny travel mug I picked up!), but they brought some sweet sessions and lots of enthusiasm for their product. It was great to see them stand so strongly behind Canvas — they really believe in improving education and getting everyone on the same page. Am I gushing? You bet, but you have to meet these folks to believe how amazing they are.

Photo of Tacoma Community College campus.

Beautiful Tacoma Community College

Not only did I get to meet some of my favorite Instructure celebrities, but I also got to go to some stupendous session. It was two days packed full of useful information from every session. Don’t believe me? Take a look at some of the cool things I learned:

  1. Did you know you can add comments to a student while you’re in the Gradebook? I don’t do much grading (a side effect of not doing much teaching), so maybe this is old news, but I thought it was so cool! This is great for if you’re manually entering grades for an in-class assignment and want to send a comment along with it. You can learn how by checking this helpful Canvas Guide.
  2. Canvas has this really cool thing called Automated Peak Load Management. Automated what a what? Yeah, I thought that, too. So, basically, because Canvas is so flexible and up in the cloud, they can easily adjust how much oomph they are putting into the system. When things start heating up and getting busy on the server, the system automatically senses that and adds more power so that users don’t have to deal with downtime. Cool? Oh yeah, super cool.
  3. Those nifty video comments that you can leave students as comments in response to their assignments? THOSE CAN GO EVERYWHERE! Wanna put one in your assignment description? You just need to click on the little film strip tool in your Rich Text Editor (the one that lets you choose font sizes and stuff without using html). And your students can use them in responses, too! My thoughts? This would be great for a foreign language course. Students could talk back and forth to each other outside of class — they just need access to a microphone or webcam (if you want video, too). This has limitations, of course (for students who don’t have access to mics or webcams), but I just thought this was super cool. Even if you just used it for directions for things it’d be a way to change up the course a bit, right?

I’m sure you don’t really care about all the stuff I learned to do from the admin side of things (I’m slowly getting nerdier, which is exciting and scary at the same time — but it is so cool!), so I won’t bore you with that. Just know that I’m pretty psyched about being able to run all these fancy reports and do things in more efficient ways.

Anyway, it was a wonderful conference and I’m excited to go next year!

* Actually, we couldn’t be considered a gaggle because apparently a gaggle is 5 or more geese who aren’t in flight. We weren’t in flight, but there were only four of us. A gaggle can also be used to describe the equivalent of eight fifty pound bags of salt, or (using military slang), an unorganized group doing nothing. Hint: none of these fit the quartet of us that attended the conference.

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