The internet, when looked at from the right vantage point, is a wondrous labyrinth filled with pockets of collegiality.
Most of the top players in the “LMS Space Race” have a thriving community of educators helping one another make the most of the platform they inhabit. Live and online events and campaigns by the companies ensure those communities feel valued. It is, of course, a strategic marketing ploy –which may or may not save costs in customer service– but one that is not easy to accomplish.
When properly leveraged, there is no reason why “community capital” should not feature, even prominently, in the company’s valuation narrative. Which is different from just having a large user base, among other things because if you play your cards right, you won’t have to trick people into getting their data. They’ll be happy to.
Which leads to ask: What is the strongest, most positive and, of course, largest LMS community of all?
Who are the
Canvassadors Canvas Advocates?
The Canvas Advocates program was launched in 2019 as a replacement of the “Canvassadors,” the community around the LMS by soon-to-be private company (but maybe not that soon) Instructure. If you stumble into the profile of a #Canvassador and still see the tag, chances are you are looking at a long-standing Canvas user and supporter. The rebranding was a way to re-energize the base, but also to become more inclusive on the global sphere.
The benefits of becoming a Canvas Advocate are not entirely clear, but perhaps this is what makes the program so brilliant. The reward for being a Canvas Advocate is to be recognized by being a Canvas Advocate. Even the section on “Perks” is defined as “tools for success” as a Canvas Advocate. You’ll get a badge, and “A” next to your Canvas Community profile. The more you Canvas Advocate, the more you will be a Canvas Advocate. There are levels: “CONNECT,” “NURTURE,” “MATURE” and “THRIVE.” Your duties will involve networking, sharing, facilitating, authoring, presenting and “spreading joy.” Further down the terms you will see how a condition for progress includes lead generation and community support. You’ll get swag, “exclusive” and “abundant” opportunities for professional growth, and might even achieve “Influencer Status.”
The rise of the education influencer - And should you market your EdTech product through a Canvas Ambassador?
You would not be mistaken to doubt the value of the term "Influencer," let alone its coupling with the education field. Thinkers have shaped the practice of education since it first started, from Plato and Vygostky to Ken Robinson and Sugata Mitra, not to mention lawmakers and officers. The term, however, not only covers those who "influence" –at times it seems as you can be one without exerting any actual influence– but those who do so by, among other things, leveraging an online social media presence.
So while the term is new, lots of initiatives seeking to capitalize on it are already rampant:
- Influence.co has an "Educator" category
- And so does the Influencer Marketing Hub, although this one counts brands and institutions.
As recommended previously, partnering with an influencer could be a valuable tactic for both educational and marketing goals, provided the benefits are measurable and trustful: Consistency, Social proof, Rapport, Reciprocity, Authority and of course, a little "fomo."
In the case of Instructure, it will be interesting to see how they can not only capitalize on the trend, but to make it dependable. For now, there has not been successful cases of influencers directly tied to a brand with such proximity. There are, however, influencer agencies. It remains to be seen how far, wide and deep Instructure's efforts go in this direction. "Canvfluencers" might not evolve into the vast presence we see in spaces like fashion or gaming. It could be only a program destined to keep "Loyalists" (as defined by marketing consulting firm Activate) happy.
It should not surprise you that the bulk of the "educational influencer" activity is happening in the online tutoring space. Perhaps the most straightforward startup of its kind is UK-based Scoodle, reportedly supported by Twitter's Biz Stone and seeking to become "Quora meets VIPKid."
While the online tutoring space is thoroughly dominated by China, Cindy Mi's VIPKid and the wealth of competitors from the once "Celestial Empire" are yet to push towards stronger branding opportunities for tutors. Not to say brandishing the quality of your one-on-one learning experience needs your company to help you in any way. Just take a look at another wondrous community, the VIPKid Twitter teachers.
Resources and References
- A Call for Canvas Advocates! at instructure.com/canvas/blog
- Learn more about Canvas Advocacy program
- Sign up for an ambassadorship post here. You will need a Canvas community profile. If you don't have one, sign up for a free trial here.
- Check out some profile pics with the coveted "A" next to them here.