Connecting and Collaborating at Accelerate 2021 Virtual


Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D, Chief Executive Officer, Online Learning Consortium

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This past week, the Online Learning Consortium wrapped up our fourth virtual conference since the pandemic started. I once again walked away from this experience amazed by all of the great information being shared as well as all of the connections being made. Six summits provided focused information for online learning leaders, researchers, instructional designers, and faculty. Rich discussions explored topics in blended learning, diversity, and quality online learning while our keynote presenter, Rajiv Jhangiani, helped us to better understand the steps we can take to help us center inclusion, trust, and care in our learning experiences.

While I wish I could share highlights from every session, there were just too many (although our virtual and onsite attendees still have access to watch sessions on demand that they may have missed). Instead, here are five top themes based on feedback from conference attendees throughout the event and shared during Centering Inclusion, Trust and Care: A Connected Plenary and Closing Event:

  1. Strength, Solidarity, and Promise
    Our participants talked a lot about how they felt after attending sessions. This included building connections with others attending the conference and seeing connections in the information being shared.

  2. DEI, Systemic Change, and Social Justice Goals
    There were so many sessions that incorporated these ideas and many ways to engage in open conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion; social change; and, social justice goals.

  3. Humanized Learning and the Pedagogy of Care
    Listening to the amazing presenters, our attendees found that so much still remained focused on the students. This was not only about meeting students where they’re at through more personalized learning experiences, but also identifying ways to help them nurture their whole selves.

  4. Flexible, Optimal, Well-Designed Learning Experiences
    Of course, an OLC conference would not be complete without conversations around designing learning experiences. Our attendees seemed to love discussions that focused around connecting to a pedagogy of care as much as those that provided insights into ways to optimize synchronous and asynchronous learning.

  5. Connection Through Reflection
    The idea of connections came up again (as mentioned earlier) but in a different way. In this case, our attendees shared that they used reflection to connect with others.

There were so many fantastic sessions offered, I know that many walked away feeling energized, refreshed and ready to bring the lessons learned back to their campus community. For those of you joining us for the Accelerate onsite event in Washington, D.C. next week, I cannot wait to continue these conversations.

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