4 Ways We’re Bringing the Online Learning Community Together at OLC Innovate


Dr. Jessica Knott, AVP of Community Strategy, Experience, and Management

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Online Learning Consortium conferences are an incredible opportunity for learning, growth, and making essential connections that further the field of online, blended, and digital learning.

They’re also a heck of a lot of fun.

While the shift to virtual conferences has changed a lot about conferences and how we experience them, the scholarship and fun are still very much a critical focus of the event.

Part of the experience comes via the engagement activities spearheaded by Director of Online Engagement Madeline Shellgren and her top-notch team of volunteers, representing the OLC community across various institutions and perspectives.

Here are four ways we’re facilitating that fun and connection at OLC Innovate 2021:


Engagement Maps and Innovation Crews

Our community is composed of a diverse group of educators and leaders. Engagement Maps, which are curated by our volunteers and community, help put this into perspective by giving you an overview of core threads found across the OLC Innovate conference program. Innovation Crews bring conference orientation to the next level by introducing and directly connecting you to other like-minded colleagues to collaboratively navigate the conference with.


Virtual Speed Networking Lounge

It is a challenging time to connect with new people in the industry. The Virtual Speed Networking Lounge affords you this opportunity. Best of all, our amazing engagement volunteers have prepared a variety of programming in recognition that everyone networks differently.


OLC Live! and the Innovation Studio

Working across modalities and designing multiple ways for people to engage presents a fun design challenge for us as educators. Within OLC’s engagement opportunities, we’ve embraced this in several ways (including podcasting and casual, dialogue-based sessions).

You can see how we approach multimodality and experience it for yourself during the OLC Live! sessions and in the Innovation Studio (both of which are volunteer-led, and completely open and free to the public).


Industry partner connections

Industry partners are core members of our community. Whether it be the technological innovations they drive and design, sustainable professional development solutions they offer, or even opportunities for educators to come together around needs and priorities, having the space to connect with industry partners is important.

In fact, we’d argue that building authentic relationships with industry partners is key to our success as a field. At OLC Innovate, there are a number of ways to bridge these connections. Moreover, we’ve designed these opportunities with the goals of collaboration, genuine community building, and fun in mind. Through sessions, games, and networking spaces, you can impact product roadmaps and have mutually beneficial conversations with industry partners. You can help drive the field’s scope of innovation forward through collaboratively identifying challenges and designing potential solutions. And along the way you’ll have dedicated time to preview products / services, and ask any questions you might have.

Though it is impossible to synthesize all that our engagement opportunities have to offer in a single blog post, the heart of it is that we design with community building and care in mind. We genuinely hope you make meaningful connections and meet new people.

We strive for our conference spaces to be reflective, critical, and generative, yes…but also fun and dynamic. We’ve taken the time to outline a variety of learning pathways and purposefully seek personalized and customized conference experiences for each and every attendee. And we make space for you…to lead, to learn, to contribute, to share your voice and stories, and to authentically engage with the wonderful community of educators we have in the OLC.

If you haven’t registered yet, there is still time. We, of course, would love to see you there!


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