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



As we continue our Odyssey into the Future of Online, Digital, and Blended Learning at OLC Accelerate, it is important to take with us lessons learned as we emerge from a global pandemic and the long overdue reckoning about racial inequality. The resiliency demonstrated by both learners and educators is essential in our work of building a more equitable and inclusive future in the context of online learning. We are proud that this conference brings together people with a diverse set of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to help everyone embark on this journey to ensure we are meeting the needs of all students, faculty, staff, and the broader communities we serve inclusively and equitably.

We aim to build connections amongst our conference attendees in creating an inclusive conference experience. The DEI Committee for Accelerate 2021 virtual and in-person 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. Diversity, equity and inclusion also means connecting with each other in meaningful and helpful ways to create an environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging within 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 and in-person conference. If you need individual assistance to accommodate your needs, and 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-streamed sessions 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.

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 Accelerate 2021 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 Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility. You may find more information by visiting the OLC Presenter Services page.

General DEI Presenter Guidelines:

  • Presenters should ensure that their presentation materials are accessible for all participants.
  • 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 use a headset with microphone for virtual presentations, and a microphone for in-person presentations, 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 accommodation request when you claim your presentation slot.
  • Closed captioning will be provided in all the virtual live and on-demand recordings.

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

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 is what building connections 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 is a reflective space available for all conference attendees to use. For the virtual conference, the Sanctuary page is asynchronous and open at all times. At the onsite conference, there will be a physical space called “The Sanctuary,” which is a quiet room. Please refer to the schedule for live mindful meditations in the Sanctuary.

What does DEI look like at the OLC Accelerate 2021 Virtual and In-person Conference this year? 

Within the context of the DEI work at OLC Accelerate 2021, we have worked to create intentionally inclusive spaces. Here’s how you can enjoy:

  • Visit the onsite or virtual Sanctuary Room, asynchronous and open at all times.
  • Join us for the conference’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion centered events, including a DEI Reception onsite Thursday, October 7, featuring a “thought-provoking, accessible “Gallery Walk,” themed around diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Closed Captions will be available in all virtual live and on-demand sessions. Discovery sessions in PlayPosit should also be captioned. 
  • Let us hear your feedback regarding how OLC is doing with our Diversity, 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 DEI Engagement Map (coming soon). OLC Accelerate 2021 presenters are also encouraged to review the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Accessibility 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.

Gloria Niles      

Gloria Y. Niles, PhD

Dr. Gloria Niles is an enthusiastic educator devoted to advancing teaching and learning with technology. Dr. Niles has had experience with online learning as a student, instructor, designer, and an administrator and she brings over 25 years of experience in various levels of education. By earning a Doctor of Chiropractic degree with post-doctoral training in Neurology, and a Ph.D. in Special Education Leadership, Dr. Niles has unique expertise and a passion for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion for Neurodiverse learners in higher education, particularly in the online learning environment. Currently, Dr. Niles serves as the Director of Distance Education and the Coordinator of the Office of Professional Development and Academic Support for the University of Hawai’i-West O’ahu.  

Ryan Yang

Ryan Yang

With two decades of experience supporting faculty in applying emerging educational technologies, Ryan is passionate about creating learning experiences that are inclusive, effective and engaging for all learners. Currently, Ryan serves as the Associate Director of Teaching and Learning Technology at the University of Florida. Ryan is responsible for the strategic direction of the Center for Instructional Technology and Training (CITT), which includes instructional design, media production, Learning Analytics, Assessment Technology Services, and Learning Space & A/V Design services. Before joining the University of Florida, Ryan was Associate Director of Academic Information Technology at Michigan State University where he led efforts ranging from digital accessibility, faculty development, implementation of education technology systems, and served on the leadership team at MSU’s Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology.