Welcome to OLC Innovate 2017, co-hosted by the Online Learning Consortium and MERLOT! This, the second OLC Innovate Conference, will take advantage of its New Orleans setting to go beyond the ordinary in exploring innovation in online learning in higher education.

Educators know that we are living in truly remarkable times. We want OLC Innovate 2017 to reflect the changes that we are witnessing on our campuses and across the nation and world. For some, change may be swirling around their departments and institutions like eddies in a swiftly moving river—while others may already have been tossed into the rapids. Whether you are still on a peaceful family river trip, floating serenely down the silky smooth waters of higher education, or have found yourself on an exhilarating adventure where you are pitched around by powers seemingly beyond your control, the OLC Innovate Conference will help to prepare you for the next bend in the river.

Even before the April conference, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to be involved in the conference. The program chair, Angela Gunder, the OLC and MERLOT staff and volunteers, and myself will be posting videos and other materials that will let you see how the conference grows and takes shape. We will build in many ways to participate. What new trends and recurring issues should we address? Work with Angela, the conference track chairs, MERLOT and OLC to develop workshops and create the schedule of conference activities. Who do you want to hear from? Help us to identify dynamic speakers. We want this conference to be a truly interactive and dynamic event, and you can help make this happen!

In higher education, we are seeing the confluence (there’s that river analogy again) of such forces as cost, regulations, accountability, technology, alternative providers and credentialing. This is why innovation is so important. Change leads to innovation, innovation responds to change; they are really two sides of the coin. This conference aims to help us all understand the innovations that will address changing times, providing new insights and practical advice on putting those insights into practice. From organizers to presenters and workshop leaders to conference attendees, you are all part of the team that will come together in New Orleans. I look forward to seeing you in April. Let’s see what we can create.

Devon Cancilla, OLC Innovate 2017 Conference Chair  

Conference Chair

Devon A. Cancilla, Ph.D., University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC)