#WeAreOLC: Innovation Happens One Idea at a Time


Cheryl Fulghum, Instructional Design and Online Learning, Haywood Community College

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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. As the #WeAreOLC initiative unfolds, you will see a series of blog posts focused on how we (the members of the steering committee) are using storytelling to create a memorable and impactful 25th Anniversary experience. See all #WeAreOLC blog posts.

I have a confession. I am an OLC Conference junkie. I love everything about them – the oversized conference décor, the scent of all-day coffee, the hum of networking and colleague reunions, and the palpable energy created by the exchange of ideas and information.

As an attendee, I am always looking for that golden tool or fertile nugget – that take-away instrument of instructional betterment that is sure to revolutionize institutional and professional practice. And interestingly, despite the grandiose expectations described in the former sentence, I always find it. I have yet to leave a conference without discovering a who, what, why or how that shapes my skills as an instructional designer, course evaluator, and faculty developer.

My first OLC Innovate conference was three years ago in New Orleans.

I began the conference at the Community College Summit. I remember walking into a room filled with more than a hundred people and feeling instantly connected. These were, after all, my people who understood the particular challenges of two-year higher education institutions. As we highlighted our collective challenges and celebrated our respective victories, it became clear that I was amongst friends and colleagues. I haven’t missed a Community College Summit since.

A few months prior, I had encouraged a new online faculty member to submit to the CFP (Call for Proposals) to present a new course model at the conference. We had recently collaborated on a course redesign of his Security Concepts class, part of the NC Community College System’s Information Technologies curriculum. My colleague was unsure about presenting alone. I suggested we co-present since I was familiar with the project having served as the instructional designer to his subject matter expertise. Even the process of writing the proposal was exciting because we realized what a unique course we had built together.

After we submitted to the CFP, my co-worker’s enthusiasm for the conference built while we waited to hear if our proposal had been accepted. Our session, Field Experts Provide Context to Content, was accepted to the Pedagogical Innovation: Course Model track. The proposal acceptance was his ‘ticket’ to the conference as our school rewarded his selection to present at a renowned educational conference by funding his registration and travel.

The work we do at our institutions is innovative by nature. We affect change daily – in our programs, our processes, our practicums, and our pedagogy. Peer-sharing those innovations is what makes OLC Innovate as rich as the learning environment we come from and return to after the conference. My co-worker and I shared a new course model we’d created for our institution at OLC Innovate 2017 (see inset image). Perhaps it inspired others to create new course models, too. That’s how innovation happens. One idea at a time. Would you consider being part of the exchange? Consider sharing your ideas, projects, and teaching and learning experiences at an OLC conference!

Cheryl Fulghum, Instructional Design and Online Learning, Haywood Community College

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