Connect with the Online Learning Consortium

Interested in the latest updates in online teaching and learning? Connect with the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), an organization offering regional and national conferences, educator resources, and a quality framework for online course design, instruction, and program administration.

The annual conference included 400 sessions on trends and innovations in online learning, as well as practical tips on how to flip your teaching, build online community, and design quality online courses.

Here are some highlights from the conference, and be sure to check out the call for proposals for OLC Accelerate 2017!

1. Quality Online Teaching and Learning

How do you benchmark quality in online learning? Using the OLC framework, including the Quality Scorecard Suite and the Five Pillars of Quality Online Instruction you can benchmark quality from the course to the program level.

2. Flip Your Teaching

Erik Christensen offered a great session, sharing tools and strategies to develop a personalized plan to flip a class in Flipped Learning from A to Z. Get tips from Flipping the Classroom- Real Advice from a Real Professor and the Flipped Learning Network. Christensen talked about his experience on the TechSmith Blog: To Flip or Not to Flip Your Classroom. Many of these flipped learning resources are available on this padlet.

If you’re planning to flip your class, you may find Getting Started with Blended Learning Videos (Faculty Focus) helpful. For faculty who want to get started but are short on time, Christensen suggested you consider flipping one day of the week – have a “Flipped Friday.” Here’s a sample of a planning guide we used to get started (available on the padlet).

3. Build Online Community

Strengthen Discussions

Online faculty are always interested in how to design effective question prompts so students will actively engage in discussion. One method is to use the Practical Inquiry Model (PIM) framework to promote higher order thinking in online discussions. The PIM is based on 4 phases of cognitive presence: 1) Triggering event (2) Exploration (3) Integration and (4) Resolution. Sadaf and Olesova write about the benefits of using PIM in Enhancing Cognitive Presence in Online Case Discussions With Questions Based on the Practical Inquiry Model.

Collaborate in Teams

There were many sessions on active learning, collaboration online, and managing groupwork online. Faculty Experiences with Managing Team Assignments in Online Courses led by Debbie Beck, PhD,  shared research and best practices  managing team assignments across academic disciplines. She explored conflict issues, strategies used to resolve problems, and the use of  individual and group accountability to design effective team-based learning activities and to promote accountability in the team assignment. Be sure to have a team contract with any online group work project!

Use Classroom Assessment Techniques

Instructors often use these formative assessment techniques in the face-to-face classroom to get feedback on student learning. Getting this feedback early in the semester can help instructors modify their own teaching methods. Online tools such as Poll Everywhere or Socrative engage students and provide feedback to instructors.

4. Debate Around Teaching Ideas

Steven Weiland’s session The Coming of the Learning Engineer: Questions of Faculty Work in the Digital Age reminds us all that educational technology is a topic of debate and dialogue. Weiland urged us to “reclaim the narrative of teaching” as we consult with faculty, and to remain cautious of a learning engineer/learning sciences approach to teaching (also see Faculty Focus – Online Education as a Catalyst for Organizational Change?).

5 . Engage the Faculty

The University of Cincinnati College of Allied Health Sciences  implemented an innovative faculty development approach by implementing a Design Time “Radio Talk Show” in WebEx. This approach engages the faculty who host “episodes.” Check out We’re on the Air: How we turned Faculty Development into a Radio Show.

Learn More

OLC Collaborate covers emerging trends and challenges in online learning and is held regionally several times a year. OLC Innovate focuses on innovations in blended and online learning, and is offered jointly by OLC and MERLOT. The annual conference OLC Accelerate takes place in the fall.

OLC provides best practice publications with its Online Learning Journal, educator resources, professional development, workshops, webinars, and research initiatives and an online community.  While institutional and professional memberships are available, community membership is free.

I’ve attended and presented at OLC for several years and it’s always a valuable experience. (See: A Scalable Consulting Model for Online Course Redesign and  Global Faculty, Global Learners: Strategies to Develop Complex International Online Courses). This is a great conference for instructional designers, program administrators, online teaching faculty, and anyone involved in faculty development for online teaching and learning.

Sophia Stone, Ed.D.

Author: Sophia Stone, Ed.D.

Sophia collaborates with faculty to provide pedagogical and academic technology consulting, training, and project management, for campus-based and online initiatives. She consults on innovative teaching practices across academic disciplines, and works with faculty on course planning, course design and development, and assessment strategies. Her research interests include global online education, instructional design, faculty development, distance education, and international learners.