#WeAreOLC: Connection and Collaboration


Madeline Shellgren, Michigan State University (Co-Chair, Technology Test Kitchen at OLC Accelerate 2019)

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With the idea of stories being a connecting element throughout all of our conference activities, we are creating a variety of opportunities for you to share your story and to hear the stories of others. We’re calling this initiative #WeAreOLC.

This is an excerpt from a previous blog post, “Co-Chairs with Collaboration and Change on Our Minds – Introducing the 2019 Technology Test Kitchen Leads” where Maddie Shellgren shares some of her #WeAreOLC stories.

To this day, I am not sure if I can tell you exactly what Kate (Sonka) saw in me that made her invite me to be a “Master Chef” in the TechnologyTest Kitchen (TTK) at the 2017 OLC Accelerate Conference. I had always had a passion for educational technologies, but up to that point, they weren’t taking a major stage in my professional journey. In fact, I was a PhD student in a Linguistics program, studying sociolinguistic perception and its intersection with identity/personality. Nevertheless, Kate saw something in me that I couldn’t yet articulate and knew that the OLC was a community for me. Importantly, I didn’t have any initial concept of what she meant by being a “Master Chef,” and apart from mentionings here and there (of scorecards, conferences, and friends), I didn’t really know what the OLC was all about.

Zooming forward to the conference itself, I learned that year that OLC Accelerate was the most fun (and when I say “fun,” I truly mean that here), coolest, and most welcoming conference of that size that I had ever been to. I left excited to implement the tools, strategies, and program designs I learned at the conference into my local contexts. I left with new and wonderful colleagues. And perhaps most significantly, I left feeling empowered by the fact that there was a group of educators completely willing and excited about working alongside an impassioned graduate student wanting to systematically make higher ed institutions more effective learning spaces. I left not feeling like a graduate student in that space; rather, I left feeling like a colleague, an innovator, and a professional. This is, perhaps for me, the most significant thing I took away from the OLC that year.

My entrance to the OLC and the TTK that year marked a meaningful turning point for me professionally. It coincidentally paralleled a shift in scholarly focus, as well (I moved from Linguistics to Writing and Rhetoric, where I largely study institutional change). I now also work as a Program Director for the Michigan State University Graduate School, designing and leading Teaching Assistant Professional Development opportunities, and coordinating with others on major efforts to align educator professional development more broadly. Across the many new and rewarding spaces I find myself working in, I have additionally begun to more intentionally focus educational technology as a main thread in my work.

Finally (and excitedly), I have willingly jumped head first into all that the OLC has to offer. I was asked to attend OLC Innovate the Spring following my first Accelerate experience and have been to every Accelerate and Innovate conference since, taking on the role of Master Chef at Accelerate 2018, Lead Ed Tech Escape Room Designer at Accelerate 2018 and Innovate 2019, as well as a Lead Designer in the Innovation Studio (facilitating “The Great Denver Design Off”) at Innovate 2019. This coming November, I am stepping into the role as Chair of the Technology Test Kitchen (welcoming my amazing colleague Adam Davi as my Co-Chair), and in Spring 2020 am more than excited to serve as Chair of the Innovation Studio. I’ve also had the privilege to work with others on aspects of the IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Advocacy) Initiative, and am eager to see how the OLC continues to commit to more equitable futures. Though it is still a few months away, I cannot wait for OLC Accelerate 2019. The steering committee has worked hard and planned some truly amazing experiences for this year’s conference, and I am looking forward to seeing and participating in them all. 


We know that we would not be where we are today were it not for your contributions over the last 25 years. With this in mind, we first invite you to share your own OLC narrativesYou can join in our quest to story the past (so that we can better prepare for the future) by submitting one or more of the following to this GOOGLE FORM:

Share a visual memory

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and we encourage you to help us collect memories from the past. Scour your archives for photos, videos, documents, or other resources that tell a story. We’ll share them with the OLC community through our social media channels as our way of saying “thanks for being a part of the OLC”.(Remember, we’re hoping to build a history of the OLC for the last 25 years)

Share your story

We want to highlight you and your work or contributions to making OLC what it is today. Create a blog post, a twitter post, etc. that we can share with the other members of our community. Here are a few prompts to get you started.

  • How did you first get involved with the OLC?
  • 25 years (then and now): What kinds of technology were you using 25 years ago and what technology do you engage with now?
  • What is one of your favorite OLC experiences?
  • Who composes your OLC community (i.e. the people you have met along the way and always enjoy seeing)? Tell a story that shares about your relationship.
  • How do you support inclusion, diversity, equity, and advocacy in your teaching and learning and how has this evolved in the past 25 years?

We hope that you join us by following along with the series, as we articulate our shared commitment to a more inclusive, equitable, and humanizing OLC through engaging in individual and collective storytelling. Thank you for sharing your stories with us and for being an important part of our community. #WeAreOLC.

Madeline Shellgren, Michigan State University (Co-Chair, Technology Test Kitchen at OLC Accelerate 2019)

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