OLC Innovate Is Fast Approaching: Here Are 10 Things to Consider!


Online Learning Consortium

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It’s fairly common to think that OLC Innovate is a newbie on the online education conference scene, as this is only the second time we’ve held this event. But considering that we changed the name of our annual “Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium” to OLC Innovate just two years ago, this is actually our 10th Anniversary!

We’ve been growing every year — over 1000 educators attended in 2016 — and continue to attract sponsors at the forefront of learning technologies, including companies like Canvas, ProctorU, Mirium, Examity, and The Chronicle of Higher Learning to name a few.

OLC Innovate has also become known as a place for smaller tech companies to showcase new technology, and for educators from around the country (and the world) to network.  Many a great idea or partnership has been nurtured over a traditional New Orleans breakfast of chicory coffee and beignets, during a Bourbon Street stroll, over a classic dinner of crawfish etouffee, or while taking in some of the incredible jazz that has made the city famous.

Even while we’re all about innovation, in the decade that we’ve worked this conference some things have remained constant and those are the things we try to hold on to going into the final stretch this year. Here are just some things to love about OLC Innovate that you can expect will continue for the 2017 incarnation.

  1. The Backdrop.

Not only is this the second year of OLC Innovate, but it’s also the second in a row that the conference has made New Orleans its home. We’ve held this networking and learning conference in Dallas and Las Vegas in the recent past, but we feel New Orleans—which has spent several years establishing itself as a major tech hub—is a perfect fit.

  1. The Attendees.

In the non-educational world, tech conferences can be a little classist. Those geared towards CEOs are often shunned by start-ups, and vice versa. But OLC Innovate—which is, after all, focused on innovation—is the perfect site for institutions seeking digital education best-practices, for experienced leaders looking for the next innovation, and for start-ups with amazing ideas to help propel us all into eLearning’s future. The opportunity to “bump and connect” is huge, with attendees flying in from nearly all 50 states and over a dozen countries. It’s an educational networker’s dream. And because learning isn’t confined to 9-to-5, we continue networking way into the evening, so don’t dine alone! Remember to use #OLCDiningBuddies to find a dinner date.

  1. The Exhibits.

Similar to last year, expect to meet nearly 50 sponsors and exhibitors. Our Exhibit Hall tends to get very busy as attendees sample new tools, programs, and ideas. In fact, since innovation for teaching and learning is born through collaboration, it can get a little loud. And we’ll be bringing back our popular Innovation Lab — a dedicated space to explore classroom challenges and test innovative solutions.

  1. The Sandwiches.

New Orleans has the best in the country. Whether it’s a classic muffuletta or a PO Boy, you can’t go wrong in NOLA.

  1. The Lightning Talks. Our fast-paced speaker series returns to Innovate this year, touching on pedagogy, structure, workforce, challenges in learning, and other online learning trends affecting our world today. This year’s topics include:
  1. The Sessions & Workshops.

In the three days of OLC Innovate, we will have covered a lot of ground, challenging our teaching and learning paradigms, reimagining the learning experience, and ideating on how disruptions in education today will shape the innovative classroom of tomorrow. To prepare, we’ve hand selected an impressive list of innovators and thought leaders for this year’s OLC Innovate program and are happy to report we have over 300 sessions planned, including 79 that will stream live! There is something for every educator.

  1. The Music.

Last year OLC Innovate rubbed shoulders with the spectacular New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. And although Jazz Fest falls later in the month this year, this year OLC Innovate takes place right at the start of the French Quarter Festival – even more convenient for our attendees! Many OLC Innovate attendees and speakers come for the tech but stay for the jazz. We think that’s a brilliant idea.

  1. The Summits.

Some consider our summits as ‘conferences within a conference’ and for a good reason! These meetings allow for focused discussions on topics that directly impact many OLC innovate attendees and require a special setting for learning, interaction, and reflection. This year our summits include:

  • HBCU Affordable Learning Summit
    • Goal: To share practices, strategies, and resources to make higher education more affordable for students in HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) in the United States and Higher Education Institutions in Africa (HEIA).
  • Community College Summit
    • Explore how members of community colleges are serving as thought leaders and change agents. How do they build a culture of innovation? How do they provide students with meaningful access to hands-on, experiential learning environments? What’s working to help prepare students for post-community college study?
  • TAACCCT Summit
    • In this, the second year for this important summit, the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Community Colleges and Career Training (TAACCT) continues to focus on enabling affordable innovations in workforce education to be easily adopted and adapted by community college teachers, learners, industries, and professional organizations.  
  1. The Keynote Speakers:

While we are a small and personal conference, OLC Innovate is known to attract exceptional keynote speakers, and this year is no different.  We’re excited to present two fascinating individuals whom you don’t want to miss:

  • John Kao. Dubbed “Mr. Creativity” by The Economist, John calls himself an innovation activist and is the author of  Innovation Nation, about America’s growing innovation challenge. He is a graduate of Yale College, Yale Medical School, and Harvard Business School, and is an angel investor in emerging technology companies. A true innovator, he’s also a Tony-nominated producer of film and stage and has worked with rock legend Frank Zappa as a pianist and with Senator Hillary Clinton as an advisor. John’s keynote address is titled: Innovating Education, Educating for Innovation.
  • Darlene Cavalier, the founder of SciStarter, a popular online citizen science community that collaborates with scientists to tackle formal and informal research projects. She is, however, best known for spearheading “Science Cheerleaders” a group comprised of more than 200 current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders who are also scientists and engineers. Darlene herself was a cheerleader for the Philadelphia 76ers, is a senior advisor at Discover Magazine, and holds a Masters Degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Her keynote is titled: Citizen Science: How everyday People are Reshaping Scientific Research & Discovery.
  1. The Savings.

There are different rates for OLC Members, non-members, students and HBCU affiliates. In addition, there are special rates for Virtual attendees and Group registrations. We even have a Buy 2 Get One registration offer. And our early-bird discounts are in effect until February 8th!  Which registration package is right for you?

So, Will You Be Joining Us?

OLC Innovate will take place from April 5 – 7th, 2017 at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. We hope to see you in N’awlins!

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