What Equity & Inclusion Means to the E&I OLC Innovate 2020 Planning Committee


Sherri Restauri, Ph.D. Coastal Carolina University and Bettyjo Bouchey, National Louis University, Co-Chairs for Equity & Inclusion, OLC Innovate 2020 and Monica Simonsen, Ph.D., University of Maryland Global Campus and Roxanne Russell, Ph.D., Columbia University, Equity & Inclusion Sub-Committee Members, OLC Innovate 2020

| No Comments | | Leave a comment

Look for those of us with the Equity & Inclusion Advocate graphic as our virtual background while attending OLC Virtual Innovate 2020.  

As we approach OLC Virtual Innovate 2020 June 15 – 26, now just a short week away, the Equity and Inclusion (E&I) Committee would like to highlight some of the upcoming opportunities for engagement with our communicate, as we continue to strive to offer a conference this is even more inclusive, considering its virtual nature and reduced price.  What a unique opportunity to attend a world-class conference from your space at a fraction of the investment of a physical conference with travel and lodging as well.    

As a committee, we would like to take this opportunity to reflect on what E&I means to those of us assisting with planning our OLC Virtual Innovate 2020 conference, to those of us serving in education, and to the overall space of teaching and learning. Most would agree that E&I can be a sweeping label, and we would all agree that it is no longer enough to say a website is WCAG compliant, or that you offer accommodations for your students or constituents.  The national dialog on E&I is only just beginning to address the fundamental and structural inequities embedded in our society and systems, and we strive to expand this discussion as part of the bigger mission of OLC and our small committee work. The recent blog post for OLC CEO Jennifer Mathes lays out the position that OLC Leadership takes on equity, inclusion, diversity, and access-we are an organization comprised of staff, volunteers, and participants across the global community who are focused on supporting one another. All the time. Everywhere. 

And while the shift from Innovate in Chicago in April to our virtual one in June necessitated moving the honoring of our E&I Scholarship winner, Fabiola Torres, please join us in congratulating her in this blog!  Fabiola has been teaching Ethnic Studies at Glendale Community College (GCC) since 1988 and specializes in online delivery.  Her teaching principles are inspired by her M.A. from Chicano Studies (CSUN) and her M.A. in Learning Technology (Pepperdine’s School of Education and Psychology).  It would be difficult to explain the breadth and depth of her impact on her students and community through her work, so stay tuned for a blog post by Fabiola, as well as an opportunity to learn more about her during Accelerate 2020.  Congratulations, Fabiola and thank you!

In order to continue to move towards a more inclusive conference experience, we want to start with some definitions.  We include a definition of diversity in this dialogue, since it is important to distinguish between these terms.  It may be helpful to view them as a continuum from embracing diversity, creating space for equity, and in imagining environments that embrace diversity and equity, yielding a more inclusive space for all.  Drawing from leaders in several organizations and universities, we are comfortable with these descriptions: 

  • Diversity is most often referred to in the context of race, gender, and ethnicity, but it should encompass all the ways we differ from each other–including in thoughts, opinions, upbringing, disability, sexual identification, among others.  Embracing diversity is a way of appreciating “other” in each other.
  • Equity is most often thought of in terms of fairness and involves removing barriers for individuals from often marginalized groups. 
  • Inclusion is the gold standard and it involves a systemic, deliberate creation of environments where everyone has the opportunity to be their full selves–whatever form this takes.  

Photo of Torie Wynn, overseeing the Field Guide station and our Engagement Map display at the OLC Accelerate 2019 conference in Orlando, FL.

These definitions are admittedly oversimplified and if it were only as easy as writing them down, we would no longer need E&I initiatives.  So, as we turn our attention to higher education, we look to the application of these concepts in their many shapes and forms. We know that colleges and universities serve many stakeholders, both within campus walls and outside.  How then, does one go about this important and culture-changing work of equity and inclusion?  

We would argue it starts with one person.  You.  It starts with you making a conscious commitment to closely examine your beliefs, your implicit biases, your thoughts, and actions.  It starts with you and the person to your right and left of your screen in those two weeks of our virtual conference. As we attend sessions focused on academic achievement through technological intervention, it involves introducing ourselves and welcoming each other into different spaces, different experiences, and exploring the value in our diverse experiences.  And importantly, after the conference concludes, it is you going back to your institution with the same commitment and taking action in the direction of a more equitable, inclusive teaching and learning space for all of us.  

What does E&I look like at OLC Virtual Innovate 2020 this year? 

Within the context of the E&I work while we all attend Virtual Innovate 2020, we have worked to create intentionally inclusive spaces. Here’s how you can enjoy:

  • Rest & Recharge! Visit the online Sanctuary Room, asynchronous and open at all times (don’t miss the guided meditations!).
  • Network! Join us at Monday, June 15 11:00am – 11:30am ET for the conference’s Virtual Speed Networking Lounge: Equity & Inclusion Welcome, sponsored by NameCoach.
  • Join us for a Fireside Chat: “Building A Community of Belonging” Monday, June 22 4:45pm – 5:45pm.  
  • Engage in Research! Collaborate in a research activity at the Research Summit on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, focused on Accessibility & Equity.
  • Engage with content how you want! Closed Captions will be available in all live and on-demand sessions. Discovery sessions in VoiceThread will also be captioned. 
  • Take a survey! Let us hear your feedback regarding how OLC is doing with our Equity & Inclusion initiatives, and how we might improve. Please complete this quick survey to provide us with your feedback and suggestions. 


Additional E & I Resources for Attendees & Presenters at Innovate 2020:

Regardless of what space you serve in education-faculty, instructional designer, librarian, administrator, support staff, or other roles, we want to personally encourage you to take the time to attend our conference sessions with a special focus on Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Diversity at our conference. To make the opportunity to select these sessions even easier, check out this curated-by-us selection of sessions by reviewing our E&I Engagement Map, which outlines excellent sessions including topics on equity, inclusion, diversity, and accessibility throughout the 2 weeks of the conference.

OLC Innovate 2020 presenters are also encouraged to review the Diversity, Inclusion, & Accessibility Presentation Strategy Guide as you prepare for your presentation, to ensure it is designed and presented in an inclusive manner for all attendees. Presenters should also review and incorporate the OLC Slide Template, review the OLC Slide Design Guide, and upload all digital materials to the OLC presentation repository prior to and/or after the presentation. Live captioning will be available for each section, with transcripts available after sessions are complete.

Join the OLC E&I Slack Channel!

The conversation and the work will continue before, during, and beyond the OLC conference. We invite you to participate in a newly formed E & I Slack group!  To join the OLC Collaborate Slack group, follow the instructions provided on the Field Guide Program Page.  Once you have joined the Slack group, search for the equity_inclusion channel by clicking on Channels and searching for equity_inclusion.  Click on preview to view the channel and join.

Looking to serve with a group dedicated to investing in equity and inclusion in the digital learning landscape? Consider serving as a volunteer with OLC. We would love to invite new digital and online learning community members into our group. Simply review the linked information on our OLC Volunteer webpage, and submit the volunteer form.

Registration for the virtual conference includes live-stream and on-demand recordings of nearly 300 sessions, including keynotes, featured sessions, education sessions, and industry showcases. The program also includes four targeted summits – HBCU, Research, Community College and the Leadership Network. There will also be opportunities to connect with peers through virtual social and networking activities including happy hours, game socials, guided meditation sessions, and networking coffee breaks.

Registration for OLC Innovate 2020 Virtual is now open. Learn more and make plans to attend today!

Sherri Restauri

Sherri Restauri, Ph.D. Coastal Carolina University
Co-Chair for Equity & Inclusion, Track Chair for Life-Long Learning and Workforce Partnerships, OLC Innovate 2020

Bettyjo Bouchey, National Louis University
Co-Chair for Equity & Inclusion, OLC Innovate 2020

Monica Simonsen headshot

Monica Simonsen, Ph.D., University of Maryland Global Campus
Equity & Inclusion Sub-Committee Member, OLC Innovate 2020

Roxanne Russell

Roxanne Russell, Ph.D., Columbia University
Equity & Inclusion Sub-Committee Member, OLC Innovate 2020





Leave a Reply