#WeAreOLC: The Conference as a Story


Megan Kohler (Program Co-Chair, 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. 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.

When you open the crisp ivory pages of a new book and hear the sound of the paper sliding between your fingertips, you are drawn into a new world. The letters typed in black ink dance together to form words, sentences, paragraphs, a journey the author wishes to share with you. As you prepare to attend Accelerate this year, I invite you to think about the conference as its own story waiting to reveal itself to you.

All great stories begin with an idea or a vision. In February, the conference planning team slipped on their headsets and clicked a link to join a video conference. This discussion would set the tone and the pacing of the story throughout the planning process and ultimately, the conference you will attend in November. Christine Hinkley’s (Sr. Director of Conferences, OLC) strong but gentle voice led the team to its guiding vision. How would the team show its gratitude to you, the members of the OLC community for allowing Accelerate to reach its 25th Anniversary celebration? Fingers gently tapped on keyboards as the team began voicing ideas to craft the world, the journey these ‘authors’ wanted to share with you.

Every story has a unique and very personal beginning where we are introduced to the lead character. From our perspective, you are the lead ‘character’ of Accelerate’s story this year. Your story may begin with the sound of your shoes softly tapping on the tile floor as you walk through the airport to board your flight. Perhaps it’s the sound of the alarm clock resounding through the darkness to wake you for morning yoga sessions at the conference. Or maybe, it’s the opening of the conference program to feel the freshly printed pages while inhaling the scent of the ink as it floats off the paper. The point at which you choose to begin your personal story of the conference, we hope, will create a lasting memory of this momentous occasion.

To create a program for a conference, one needs to pay close attention to the rhythm. All great stories have a rhythm or a pacing that keeps them moving forward. It makes you feel alive and engaged in the events that are unfolding around you. Every story is unique. One can be fast-paced and exhilarating like the energized keynote speaker that inspires you to think in new ways. While another may start with the slow and steady tempo of your heartbeat as you relax in the serenity room. And yet another may be the familiar rhythm of talking with a good friend as you brainstorm new ideas from a Wednesday morning workshop you both attended. Or perhaps your pacing is found in the clinking of knives and forks on the porcelain plates during the IDEA Luncheon. Regardless of which rhythm you choose, the program is designed to provide a pace that keeps you energized and wanting to pursue the next activity, similar to how a story entices you to keep turning the page.

Great stories also include an element of foreshadowing to help prepare you for the twists and turns the story will take. The program allows you to select the events you wish to have as part of your conference story. It shares information about the keynote speakers, the presenters, the sessions and much more. By doing so, it provides a bit of foreshadowing on the incredible journey of learning and exploration that lies before you. It allows you to craft your own story, session by session. And while there are many more elements of storytelling that we could share as part of the conference story, we want you to choose the adventure that is right for you.

As you participate in OLC’s Accelerate 2019, we hope you enjoy the experience we have created for you. The team has spent countless hours creating activities to engage you and to help create a personal story that lingers with you until next year. We invite you to share this story through #WeAreOLC. Your story is important to us and helps us create an irreplaceable picture of The Online Learning Consortium’s community. Let us hear your voice.

Make plans to join us at OLC Accelerate! Register today. Can’t travel to Orlando? Virtual attendee options are available!


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.

Megan Kohler  Megan Kohler, OLC Accelerate Program Co-Chair

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