Innovate24 Highlights and Insights


Morgan Johnson, 2024 Innovate Conference Chair, Vice President Academic Experience, University of Arizona Global Campus

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We convened in beautiful Denver, CO this year for #Innovate24, under the theme “Elevating Pathways: Navigating the Terrain of Future Learning.” This year’s conference was my favorite to-date! As Conference Chair, I might be biased, but we introduced new programming, revived some of our favorite presentation formats, and connected with colleagues from across the globe who lead and support online, distance, and blended learning offerings.

From discussions on artificial intelligence to navigating evolving regulatory requirements, we spent four days deeply engaged in dialogue, problem-solving, and collaboration across our institutions and organizations. And amidst all the learning, we made sure to infuse plenty of fun into the mix. You can preview the photo album capturing some of our favorite onsite moments!

Conference Program

Our Conference Co-Chairs, Allison Rief and Bryan Aylward, curated the conference tracks to refocus on priority areas impacting our institutions and organizations:

  • Student Support, Success, and Empowerment
  • Artificial Intelligence, Emerging Technologies, and Innovation
  • Leadership & Organizational Success Strategies
  • Curriculum, Pedagogy, Learning Design, and Open Learning
  • Workforce Preparation and Competency Development

During our opening session, our keynote speaker, Dr. Vashae Dixon, set the tone for the conference with her call to action. Dr. Dixon challenged us to interrogate the differentiators of our learning experiences for the students we serve. Providing online offerings, once a differentiator, is now an expectation in our post-pandemic world. Sessions throughout the conference helped attendees reflect on their institutions’ missions, students, and apply session outcomes in a manner that remains true to these critical elements.

In our closing plenary, Dr. Remi Kalir left us on our final day with a powerful quote as we continue to explore AI and other emerging technologies at our institutions, “…let us not forget that our empathy must be as generative as our technology…”. Discussions and conversations around technology were rooted in humanistic and value-driven approaches.

One of the highlights of #Innovate24 was the reemergence of the Lighting Talk format, both from presenters and attendees. These sessions throughout the week were authentic, honest, collaborative, and left us all with actionable insights and resources to take back to our institutions. Importantly, we were able to capture speakers’ thoughts and experiences, including those of students. I am hopeful that this session format continues to be offered at future conferences.

Engagement Activities

Our Engagement Co-Chairs, Jennifer Zaur and Cynthia Pascal, introduced a new engagement format at this year’s conference by inviting OLC community members to submit proposals, and our community did NOT disappoint! From karaoke and clog dancing to a massive rock, paper, scissors battle, these sessions brought levity and fun to Innovate in a refreshing way. Attendees will be able to bring back engagement programming to their institutions and were able to connect with the OLC community in a new way. I predict there will be rock, paper, scissors rematches at future conferences. A special thank you and shout out to all of our engagement session leaders and attendees for their creativity that brought belly laughs and smiles to all. This would not have been possible without a stellar group of volunteers including Haley Sampson and Amy Johnson.


A conference like #Innovate24 doesn’t happen without an incredible team behind it! I want to extend my gratitude to:

  • All of the OLC Staff who worked tirelessly, led by Jennifer Mathes, Angela Gunder, and Christine Hinkley.
  • The OLC Board of Directors, especially my partner on this conference, Melissa Vito, for continuing to support professional development for our community.
  • The Innovate Conference Committee, including Allison Rief, Bryan Aylward, Cynthia Pascal, and Jennifer Zaur. You’re a special team, and I am thankful for the magic you created.
  • Our amazing OLC Volunteers who made this possible, including conference track chairs, proposal reviewers, and engagement team members.
  • To all of our Innovate Presenters, thank you for your willingness to share, collaborate, and contribute to our collective knowledge and the growing body of online, distance, and hybrid work.
  • Last but certainly not least, thank you to our Innovate Attendees!!! I always love seeing new and seasoned contacts connect. This community has a special spirit that was evident in so many ways at #Innovate24.

If you were unable to join us in Denver, have no fear! The #Innovate24 virtual conference is taking place this week from Monday, April 22nd to Thursday, April 25th, and recordings for those sessions will be available after the conference concludes. You can register here: Innovate Conference Registration.

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