Overview  |  Preparing for the Conference  |  During the Conference  |  Meet the Committee



Taking inspiration from our originally planned location of Chicago, this year’s theme: Building Bridges in Digital, Blended, and Online Learning certainly resonates with many of us as our work becomes ever more complex and as digital, blended, and online learning traverse all aspects of campus-life. Each day digital and online leaders are building bridges between internal groups, with students, faculty, and staff, and with the broader communities we serve. 

We aim to build bridges amongst our conference attendees in creating an inclusive conference experience. The EI Committee for Innovate 2020 virtual conference broadly defines inclusion, diversity, equity, and advocacy as honoring all individuals for who they are, and where they are: in so doing, both recognizing and also honoring the whole person. Equity and inclusion also means connecting with each other in meaningful and helpful ways to create an environment where everyone feels part of the conference community.  We are always looking for individuals to help us shape and expand this mission, so please reach out to us if you have an interest in service with us in this event or future OLC events. 

We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including those with disabilities, to engage fully in the virtual conference. If you need individual assistance to address your accommodation needs to ensure you can fully participate in the conference, please contact us. We will then work with you individually and with the appropriate vendors to make sure that your specific accommodation needs are addressed. Closed captioning will be provided in all the live and on-demand recordings. If you have questions or would like to discuss your accessibility needs or concerns, please email us at conference@onlinelearning-c.org.

And, for all conference participants – attendees and presenters alike – we are happy to provide suggestions on what you can do during the conference to bring diversity and inclusion to OLC Innovate 2020 Virtual Conference.


Preparing for the Conference

Presenters: Inclusive Presentation Materials and Formats

If you are a presenter, please attend the training session for your presentation type for guidelines to best accommodate all attendees in your session, as well as refer to our specific Presenter Guide on Equity & Inclusion. You may find more information by visiting the OLC Presenter Services page.

General EI Presenter Guidelines:

  • Presenters should ensure that their presentation materials are accessible for individuals with a wide range of abilities. 
  • Follow web accessibility guidelines to ensure everyone in the virtual room can benefit and that the presentation materials are accessible. Please feel free to use the OLC conference presenter slide template, which is accessible, available from the Presenter Services page
  • Please be use a headset with microphone if at all possible to ensure the quality of your sound during your presentation.  
  • Presenters should plan to describe their slides, visual demonstrations, or videos to the audience for any attendees with visual impairments. To best conduct an accessible and inclusive session so that all attendees may engage, it is recommended that presenters repeat any questions that have been asked in the chat using the microphone for any attendees who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
  • If you are presenting and need an accommodation to effectively conduct your presentation, please let us know. There is a space for you to indicate that you have an accommodate request when you claim your presentation slot.

Additional tips were presented to speakers in the presenter webinars leading up to the conference as well as in our Presenter Guides.

Photo of Torie Wynn, overseeing the Field Guide station and our Engagement Map display at the OLC Accelerate 2019 conference in Orlando, FL.
Caption: Photo of Torie Wynn, overseeing the Field Guide station and our Engagement Map display at the OLC Accelerate 2019 conference in Orlando, FL.

We want to make participating in the conference experience simple, accessible, and inclusive. One of the ways we work to do this is by generating Engagement Maps; these maps highlight specially-curated sessions in themes such as instructional design, leadership, equity & inclusion, and much more, and attendees indicate that these focused and themed session guides help them to better engage at the conference with individuals who have similar interest areas. Consider attending sessions that have been carefully curated for you by OLC volunteers in our Engagement Maps that match your interests–OR–branch out to a brand new area and meet new people, and learn new information. That’s what building bridges is all about. 


During the Conference

Unplug and Refocus

Everyone needs a break and time to decompress during a long conference. Take advantage of the opportunities to unplug and refocus.

Our Sanctuary room is a quiet, reflective space available for all conference attendees to use. This is a quiet space room, where no cell phone conversations allowed, and disturbances are kept to a minimum to allow conference attendees to rest and recharge. Please keep face-to-face conversation to a minimum or at a very low level so as not to disturb others in the room. The Sanctuary Room is asynchronous and open at all times. Please refer to the schedule for synchronous meditation sessions. 

What does E&I look like at OLC Innovate 2020 Virtual Conference this year? 

Within the context of the E&I work at OLC Innovate 2020, we have worked to create intentionally inclusive spaces. Here’s how you can enjoy:

  • Visit the Sanctuary Room, asynchronous and open at all times.
  • Join us at Monday, June 15 11:00am – 11:30am US EDT for the conference’s Virtual Speed Networking Lounge: Equity & Inclusion Welcome, sponsored by NameCoach. 
  • Collaborate in a research activity at the Research Summit on Wednesday, focused on Accessibility & Equity.
  • Closed Captions will be available in all live and on-demand sessions. Discovery sessions in VoiceThread will also be captioned. 
  • Let us hear your feedback regarding how OLC is doing with our Equity & Inclusion initiatives, and how we might improve. Please complete this quick survey to provide us with your feedback. 

Additional E&I Resources for Attendees & Presenters:

Please attend our conference sessions with a special focus on Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Diversity at our conference. Check out this curated-by-us selection of sessions by reviewing our E&I Engagement Map. OLC Innovate 2020 presenters are also encouraged to review the Diversity, Inclusion, & Accessibility Presentation Strategy Guide as you prepare for your presentation, to ensure it is designed and presented in an inclusive manner for all attendees. Presenters should also review and incorporate the OLC Slide Template, review the OLC Slide Design Guide, and upload all digital materials to the OLC presentation repository prior to and/or after the presentation.

Join the OLC E&I Slack Channel!

The conversation and the work will continue before, during, and beyond the OLC conference. We invite you to participate in a newly formed E & I Slack group!  To join the OLC Collaborate Slack group, follow the instructions provided on the Field Guide Program Page.  Once you have joined the Slack group, search for the equity_inclusion channel by clicking on Channels and searching for equity_inclusion.  Click on preview to view the channel and join.

E&I Slack channel image

Bettyjo Bouchey      

Bettyjo Bouchey

Dr. Bettyjo Bouchey is Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the College of Professional Studies and Advancement at National Louis University (NLU) where she also serves as the Director of Online Academics for the university.  NLU is an institution engaged in broad dialog and action around how we address equity in all aspects of our work. As a mom to a child with special needs, she is also a tireless advocate for diversity, inclusion, and most importantly, equity in education and the community at-large.  She is especially delighted to bring her experiences in and around Equity & Inclusion to Innovate 2020 this year.

Sherri Restauri

Sherri Restauri

Dr. Sherri Restauri has served in academia for 20 years. During this time, she has served as an instructional designer, faculty member in the field of psychology and other areas, and also as an administrator over Online Learning at several universities. Dr. Restauri joined the Coastal Office of Online Learning as their Director in July 2016. Her research focus is on improving the teaching and learning process across all teaching modalities through the use of technology, with specific interest in pedagogical practices to increase student engagement and access, and best practices in digital learning pedagogy. She is a past Conference Chair for OLC Accelerate and has served for over a decade as an OLC volunteer. 

Jennifer Paloma Rafferty

Jennifer Paloma Rafferty

Jennifer Paloma Rafferty is the Director of the Institute for Professional Development at the Online Learning Consortium. She has served on strategic planning committees for inclusion and multiculturalism in higher education and she has worked as an advocate and interpreter for immigrant and refugee communities.

Roxanne Russell

Roxanne Russell

Dr. Roxanne Russell is the Director of Online Education for Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and co-founder of Full Tilt Ahead, an academic design studio serving universities across the US. She has 20+ years of university-level teaching experience and 15+ years of professional digital learning leadership experience in higher education. Her research focus is on creating equitable and effective digital learning experiences for adolescent and adult learners, and she was recently issued a patent for a machine learning reading comprehension tool, Read Ahead. She has been attending OLC conferences for ten years and is excited to support equity and inclusion efforts and to serve on an OLC committee for the first time.

Monica Simonsen headshot  

Monica Simonsen

Dr. Monica Simonsen is the Director of Special Education Online Programs at the University of Kansas (KU) and was previously the Program Coordinator for the Secondary Transition Online Graduate Program. Her current research related to online learning focuses on embedding inclusive pedagogies into online learning and identifying effective leadership structures and practices for online program management. Dr. Simonsen also studies the impact of family engagement and collaboration to promote seamless transition outcomes for students with disabilities and personnel preparation of transition specialists.