OLC Accelerate 2017 Field Guide Face-to-Face Kickoff

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This workshop will build connections among participants, extending community-building virtual discussions preceding the conference. Participants will join “lightning” discussions, focusing on either navigating the Accelerate conference (for new members), or addressing specific topics or problems of interest as identified in prior discussions. Virtual communication before and after the conference will be supported.


Dr. Beth Rubin serves as the Dean of Adult and Online Education for Campbell University. She has conducted research on a wide range of topics, from the effect of Learning Management Systems on online learning, the effects of proctoring on student behavior and outcomes, and the Community of Inquiry as well as pedagogical approaches to teaching the Holocaust. She has published works in journals such as Online Learning, the Internet and Higher Education, International Review of Research in Open and Distributed` Learning, and the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. She currently serves as Senior Assistant Editor of the journal Online Learning. Her prior positions include Assistant Provost for eLearning at Miami University (Ohio), and Director of SNL Online at DePaul University’s School for New Learning. A professor of Psychology, Dr. Rubin holds a B.A. in Psychology from Cornell University, and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Michigan State University.
Clark Shah-Nelson serves as Assistant Dean of Instructional Design and Technology for the University of Maryland School of Social Work and is a doctoral student in Evidence-Based Management/Business Administration. Clark is an eLearning instructional design development professional with 25 years experience in educational technology innovations: teaching, designing leading award-winning online and distance learning teams for learning management platform implementation, training, end user support, professional development and engagement. He has presented at numerous online learning and ed tech conferences, was co-founder of the Blend-Online Educause constituent group, co-founding master chef of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Technology Test Kitchen, and has recently volunteered as Conference Co-Chair for OLC Innovate and Engagement Co-Chair for OLC Accelerate Clark has authored chapters on synchronous tools for teaching and learning support and co-authored a chapter on professional development installations. As a consultant, Clark has worked on several international projects in the realm of blended and online learning.

Extended Abstract

The Accelerate Field Guide and Community Connector Session is designed to achieve several objectives: 1) to help participants to connect with others who are concerned about the same issues in online learning, strengthening the OLC community; 2) to help members apply ideas to enhance their work; and 3) to connect new members with more experienced attendees who can help plan out what to see and do during the conference.

Prior to the conference, the organizers will identify Accelerate participants who would like to participate in community-building activities before, during and after OLC Accelerate 2017. Those who indicate interest will be invited to engage in an online communication platform (Slack) that they can use to connect with others based on various interests, topics and issues. In addition, the survey will identify participants who 1) are willing to serve as Accelerate Field Guides, who are experienced OLC members willing to serve as mentors providing guidance and support for new (OLC conference) participants, and/or to any attendee working on challenges in areas where they have expertise as a Content Area Field Guide; or 2) are new to the conference and interested in connecting with an Accelerate Field Guide and receiving support.

A synchronous meeting will be held prior to the conference using Shindig. It will focus on orienting participants to the activities and options, and address topics from the Slack discussions that have generated ample dialog. Participants will be recommended to interact on Slack and sign up for times to staff the Field Guide booths, lead tours, and generate additional interaction opportunities. Field Guides will be given Engagement Maps for 12-14 different Personas that reflect different roles or focii that Accelerate participants may hold, such as Instructional Designer, Experienced Online or Blended Faculty, Graduate students, etc... Participants may also generate ideas for other ways to support new Accelerate attendees.

During OLC Accelerate 2017, this session will provide opportunities for in-person community-building through a series of “lightning round” discussions. Tables will be set up for each of 12-14 Personas that have been developed.  If possible, each table will be staffed by Accelerate Field Guides who can answer questions and provide advice to newer attendees. Each table will have an Interaction Map, which participants can use as a guide to navigate the conference. Additional tables may be set up to address key topics of concern that arise in pre-conference online discussions.


  1. An organizer will introduce the process and describe the different kinds of tables, one for each of 10-12 different Personas that reflect the different roles that Accelerate participants play. Other tables may include online learning-related challenges or topics (5 minutes)

  2. Participants will be invited to visit tables of their choice for the first lightning round. The Field Guides will review Engagement Maps for different personas, and share tips about navigating the conference, key activities they find valuable, and make connections.

  3. After 15 minutes, the organizers will ring a bell and invite participants to move to another table if they so choose. Participants will be given 3 minutes to move and 15 minutes for another brief discussion.

  4. After 2 rounds, participants will be guided through logging into the Slack system, with instructions available both via hardcopy and powerpoint slides. They will be asked to post once in any group(s) of their choice. This will allow them to continue the discussions after the Accelerate conference, obviating the need for personal contact information.

Following the conference, invitations will be sent to Face-to-Face session participants to remind them about the Slack conversations, and to invite them to attend a post-conference synchronous webinar meeting to discuss various topics, including how they can resolve specific types of challenges using information and contacts from OLC Accelerate 2017.

These steps can strengthen the OLC community, provide support for new conference attendees, and support the application of knowledge to resolving real-world issues.