2015 Online Learning Consortium Conference

On October 14 – 16, 2015, I attended the Online Learning Consortium Conference in Orlando, Florida (@OLC Today #OLC15). As usual, this was a great conference with many ideas about teaching and learning online. Following are some highlights.

We’re adults, we don’t need badges.
There were a number of sessions on micro-credentialing, badging and gamification, as each of these is a major area of interest in online program development, teaching and learning. One session that I attended was around creating online badging models in faculty development, where the speakers talked about how the biggest challenge in implementing badging for them has been getting faculty to buy into this concept, as some do not see the value of badges to indicate accomplishment. Personally, I loved the idea of implementing badges to recognize skills/credentials for instructors who complete various programs to acquire skills for teaching with technology. While some may view this negatively, why not add a little fun to teaching & training?

Other sessions around gaming techniques/gaming/gaming design (with excellent resources available from these links), included:

I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
The OLC conference had a technology kitchen where you could go try out everything from green screens to Virtual Reality Viewers. And, how can you say you don’t like it if you don’t give it a try. I spent a long time with a D-Scope Pro/Google Cardboard pair of virtual reality glasses. There are many free 3D apps that you download to your phone that you can use with these glasses, and while I admit I really liked one called Dinosaurs which may not have more than entertainment value ( dinosaurs appear in your office, or wherever you are – it’s cool!!!), there are other apps where you can absolutely say – yes, there is a lot of educational value/possibility here (e.g. the Google Cardboard app gives you access to many spaces in the 3D environment – want to walk around a virtual Eiffel Tower and get a feel for what that is actually like in real life – then yes, you can).

Along with the tech kitchen, there was a tech cookbook, of course. Within the cookbook are many recipes for how to implement various technologies (some familiar, and some new) in various learning environments. See http://olc.onlinelearningconsortium.org/sites/default/files/pages/OLC15_TTK%20Recipe%20Book.pdf


I am a Real Person in this Time and Space with You.
As part of participating in the conference, I gave a presentation called I am a Real Person in this Time and Space with You: Building Community in an Online Course. In addition to being part of the live conference, this session was streamed to online audiences. I enjoyed facilitating this interaction, having my audience use a the Twitter hashtag #realpersononline to send questions and comments during the session as well as play a buzzword bingo game with key words from the presentation. Though there were some minor technical difficulties, overall the session went well and I enjoyed the many points of interaction as we talked about how important it is for an online instructor to be involved with students, build purposeful interactions, and provide timely individualized feedback as part of building social presence in a course.


Bits and Bytes
A few other pieces from the conference worth pointing out include:

The End
If you get a chance to attend this conference, I would recommend it – always a good mix of “case studies” for what worked well in a particular online course, vendor presentations and big picture ideas.  On the Thursday night of the conference, there was also a choice to go to either the Epcot Center for the Food and Wine festival or Magic Kingdom.  Who can resist Spaceship Earth at Epcot?  Well worth the time!