Ryan Lufkin on Instructure, Acquisition and The Future of Credentialing

Key Points

  • There is a need for reliable verification in credentials.

  • Educators should familiarize themselves with AI tools, rather than fear them.

On this episode of the Getting Smart Podcast, Tom Vander Ark is joined by Ryan Lufkin, VP of Academic Strategy at Instructure.

Instructure, renowned for its leading learning management system, Canvas, serves around 7000 institutions and 6 million learners globally. Post-pandemic, the importance of such platforms has skyrocketed, with Canvas becoming essential for educational continuity. Instructure’s growth was bolstered during COVID-19, leveraging its cloud-based infrastructure for rapid deployment across schools and universities. 

In this podcast, Tom and Ryan talk about recent developments including enhancing AI integration for educational tools, expanding international partnerships, and acquiring companies like Badgr for credentialing and Parchment for transcript services. These efforts aim to support a comprehensive learner record, improving the accessibility and personalization of education.

The company introduced Canvas during a recession, prioritizing user experience and cloud-based technology innovation. Amid the pandemic, Instructure’s customer-centric approach fueled rapid growth as institutions sought scalable solutions for online and hybrid learning.

The post-pandemic discussions revolve around educational challenges like learner disengagement and mental health issues. Efforts towards AI integration aim to boost student support services and streamline academic processes, tackling enrollment declines in traditional degree programs. Instructure’s acquisitions of Badgr and Parchment underscore its dedication to robust learner records via credentialing platforms.

Instructure’s evolution towards skills-based taxonomy over traditional course structures signifies a shift towards mastery-based grading models and equitable skill assessment methods. The emphasis on comprehensive learner records reflects a commitment to adapt to changing educational landscapes post-pandemic. The integration of AI seeks to enhance learning experiences and address the evolving needs of students and institutions.


Introduction 00:10 

  • Introduction to Canvas as a widely adopted learning management system in North America.
  • Discussion on breaking down traditional siloed technology and transitioning to online and hybrid learning.
  • Examples of institutions successfully shifting to online learning with Canvas.

Utilizing Technology for Education: 06:02

  • Importance of integrating technology in education for a seamless transition to online learning.
  • Use of tools like Zoom, external videos, and third-party apps for enhancing the learning experience.
  • Emphasis on AI tools to save time and ensure learner success.

Learner-Centric Approach and Credentialing: 12:59

  • Focus on creating a comprehensive learner record to track skills development throughout a student’s lifecycle.
  • Acquisition of Parchment to enhance digital transcript solutions.
  • Discussion on hierarchical stratification of badges and credentials.

Future of Education and Skill Credentialing: 18:08

  • Exploration of blockchain solutions for learner records and the future of credentialing systems.
  • Shift towards skills-based taxonomy in education for a more equitable and understandable grading system.
  • The potential impact of skills credentialing on learners’ high school experiences and future job opportunities.

Advancements in Education Technology: 23:04

  • International focus on integrating technology in education for flexibility and resilience.
  • Incorporating credentialing and transcript services to better serve customers and learners globally.
  • Closing remarks on the importance of continuous learning, leadership, and innovation in education.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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