From education to employment

The power of community in helping educators to thrive in an evolving education landscape 

Jay Fabian

The pandemic served as a catalyst for educators and students alike to embrace the power of technology, proving that we can adapt and thrive even in challenging times.

The concept of the “online community” evolved to a new level when the pandemic obligated educators – ready or not – to move instruction completely and indefinitely to the online world.

Those more familiar with e-learning models or with previous experience using virtual learning environments became teachers to their peers. Students quickly adjusted to guiding their professors and parents on how to navigate the digital tools that, for many, were new and confusing.

While online communities, like the global one offered by Canvas by Instructure, were already established and serving a large community of teachers and admins, a wave of new users turned to these spaces (the Canvas Community received 1.6M page views on a single day in August 2020 and over 65M page views in 2021) to look for ideas, answers to technical questions, or simply to connect with peers around the world and feel less lonely in a new era for educators.

While in survival mode, faculty, as well as edtech providers, have found a shared space in the online VLE community to exchange experiences, share ideas and solve big questions while learning from each other. 

The power of AI to serve teachers

This sense of community can continue to help educators as they face one of the most exciting, yet daunting for some, evolutions in education, driven by the emergence of powerful new generative AI tools. These tools are reshaping how we experience teaching and learning, offering new approaches and opportunities. 

Institutions worldwide are working to find the best way to approach the challenges that generative AI has presented to educators. Meanwhile, multiple edtech providers are rushing to design the tools that will help identify or prevent cheating, something that many educators have identified as one of their biggest concerns around tools such as ChatGPT.

However, when implemented with an intentional, secure, and human-driven approach, Generative AI has the power to promote meaningful learning experiences for all, and using it to help teachers thrive and succeed will be critical to directly impacting students’ success.  

Beyond adding AI capabilities into our core products, at Instructure, we have also added them to serve the online Community and help educators efficiently and effectively find answers. The recently launched Panda Bot is an AI-powered tool trained with the official product guides for the products in the Instructure Learning Platform that empowers educators and students to get the information they need so they can quickly return to their learning experiences. Anyone with an account who is signed into the Instructure Community can now have access to Panda Bot and be able to interact and receive answers in their native language.

AI-powered tools will keep evolving and help us save time and be more efficient; however, the human touch will always be the critical component of all our interactions and activities to make technology work in our favour and make it meaningful and safe for all. 

An edtech community for teachers to learn and grow

Providing the most innovative technology for educational institutions will only have an impact if we facilitate the space and opportunity for faculty, admins, and students alike to interact and share resources with a broader community outside of their institution and help them connect with their peers worldwide. More than that, these communities should also be a space to listen to users’ needs and ideas by offering the ability to directly interact with product and engineering teams and vote on feature ideas users would like to see added to their favourite products, like Canvas

Over the years, Instructure has seen its global online Community become the largest, most engaged community in education (From 2013 to 2023, Community membership has grown by 3,000%). The Community is also a source of great ideas and innovation for online and face-to-face classrooms, as nearly 1.9 million members find a safe place for socialisation and professional growth.

As we prepare to enjoy an enriching day of learning and in-person connection at CanvasConnect Liverpool on November 1st, we hope to keep inspiring educators, institutions, and other edtech providers to embrace community-sourced innovation, foster global collaboration, and amplify the power of teaching together.

By Jay Fabian, General Manager EMEA at Instructure

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