#WeAreOLC: The Power of Storytelling at Accelerate’s 25th Anniversary


Megan Kohler (Program Co-Chair, OLC Accelerate 2019), Angela Gunder (Co-Chair,  Virtual Engagement and OLC Live at OLC Accelerate 2019) and Madeline Shellgren (Co-Chair, Technology Test Kitchen at OLC Accelerate 2019)

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OLC Accelerate 2018 Online Education Conference

Stories help us capture and share our past, create our future, support our teaching and learning, and build connections with one another. All of these qualities are an integral part of the OLC community, particularly as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary at OLC Accelerate. Not surprisingly, almost all aspects of the conference are harnessing the power of storytelling to create opportunities for learning and engagement this year.

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.

Over the next few weeks you will see a series of blog posts that provide an overview of what is happening with #WeAreOLC, particularly leading up to and at the OLC Accelerate conference in Orlando.  You’ll learn more about ways in which you can get involved, and where we are heading with future initiatives. Best of all, you will get to know more about your colleagues and friends, new and old, who are seeking new ways to foster connections across the entire OLC Community. Our hope with the #WeAreOLC initiative, is that with intentional opportunities and calls to action around community storytelling, we will better serve the mission of inclusion, diversity, equity and advocacy.

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. These narratives will discuss the ways in which the chairs are using storytelling in each of their respective areas and how you might join in on the effort of sharing our collective stories. (See a teaser of their blog post below.) The individual threads of stories from this community can be intentionally woven together to form a rich tapestry that defines who we are and the work we do in collective support of online and digital learning.

How Can You Contribute?

Though each of the series posts will center on storytelling as it relates to OLC programming and experiences (particularly from those of us planning for OLC Accelerate in November), we also value and recognize the importance of community building beyond a given conference. 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 narratives. You 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.

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.

Next Up: Equity and Identity in Storytelling. Watch for this blog post coming to you in the next couple of weeks as we continue the journey – together!

Equity and Identity in Storytelling

Kicking off our journey into the power of storytelling is a narrative and call to action penned by Maddie Shellgren, co-chair of the Technology Test Kitchen, and Angela Gunder, co-chair of the Online International Summit and OLC Live, both at OLC Accelerate 2019.  In their piece on the power of storytelling, they surface ways in which individuals and communities can establish their agentic identity, championing the mission and values that are defined by groups that are aligned and openly connected. They conclude by sharing actionable ways in which individuals can harness this power at the OLC Accelerate conference via a series of initiatives and events that are aligned with storytelling practices.

Megan Kohler Megan Kohler, The Pennsylvania State University (Program Co-Chair, OLC Accelerate 2019)
Angela Gunder, University of Arizona (Co-Chair,  Virtual Engagement and OLC Live at OLC Accelerate 2019)
Madeline Shellgren, Michigan State University (Co-Chair, Technology Test Kitchen at OLC Accelerate 2019)

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