It’s not every day you get to attend a week-long birthday party for a 25-year-old.  Especially one attended by more than 1700 guests from around the world ranging from newcomers to devotees.

The 2019 OLC Accelerate conference in Orlando did not disappoint. With over 500 sessions, pre-conferences, key-note speakers, targeted tracks, special summits for research and instructional design, and discussions on diversity and equity accessibility, OLC Accelerate fulfilled its’ claim as being as the “ultimate event to network with—and learn from—thousands of eLearning peers”. 

Our primary “confession” is that there was so much conference activity, it was impossible to take in as much as we wanted. 

Envisioning the Best Future World for Learners

Given the robust conference schedule environment, there was little need to step into Disney’s kingdom for dreams to come true. Magic among conference learners was palpable during every session and interpersonal engagement from the sessions to the exhibition area to the informal chats in hallways. 

Some of the key conference takeaways about modern online education include the ongoing buzz about collaboration, accountability, balancing privacy with data access, and how to envision the best future world for learners. 

The first key-note speaker, Dr. Talithia Williams, delighted the group with questions on what and who should have access to data, and the possible solutions on how we can shift the culture to better meet the needs of learners with data-driven strategies for success. Dr. Williams is a professor at Harvey Mudd, TED speaker, author, and host of the PBS series, NOVA Wonders. 

Ross Dawson, a futurist, author, and advisor, presented the other key-note on the “Next 25 Years – The Future of Online Learning”. Dawson encouraged attendees to go deeper than “simple trend reports and blog posts” for more substantive understanding and knowledge of our world now and envision a more positive future.  The uniquely human qualities of creativity, critical thinking, and relationships are needed for us to reach our full potential and adapt to a changing environment.

Learning from and with each other is key to our sustained future. One attendee spoke of the accountability lessons learned in young adulthood and addressed in the book, How to Raise an Adult, by Stanford University’s Julie Lythcott-Haims as being applicable to adult learning too.  

Overall, conference attendees remain aware and vigilant of the importance of data security and establishing safe places for collaboration and sharing. We spoke with librarians and resource providers who gave their perspectives on best practices for sharing resources, online data, and intellectual property.

The Buzz About Collaboration

More than 25 sessions referenced collaboration in some way.  The daunting task of selecting sessions mirrored the fragmented technology landscape that today’s decision-makers are facing!  Attendees shared that the growing number of collaboration tools existing in the marketplace – from Google apps to LMS-embedded functionality, to online collaborative learning platforms – is prompting learning professionals to think creatively about the best e-learning approaches for optimal impact. Most appealing about online collaboration is a safe and secure environment for practice and application,  the opportunity for global, scalable participation, and coaching and support from colleagues, mentors, and instructors. 

As an adult learner, I recognize the need for a social and collaborative solution like the NovoEd platform. At NovoEd, we offer a comprehensive and secure collaborative learning platform designed for impact and learner engagement. Learning together results in higher achievement and productivity; fosters more diverse, supportive and committed relationships; and creates a sense of belonging. Using a conscious and humanistic approach, collaboration can actively engage learners and provide varied access and opportunity to share in the group’s success, as well as create multiple pathways for personalized achievement.

Conclusion

Much has happened in the 25 years since the OLC conference began, and each year brings new innovation and positive possibilities. Despite “confessing” to conference cognitive overload, I am encouraged by the willingness of professionals and educators to continue to gather in-person and online to share, collaborate, and grow. What begins in our academic communities can continue in the workplace, and the discoveries in a professional environment can flow back in return.

Upcoming Product Tour – A Collaborative Online Learning Platform.
If you missed us at OLC Accelerate, join us for a live product tour, where we will showcase how NovoEd’s online learning platform enables the creation, curation, and delivery of engaging learning experiences that accelerate capability development in areas such as change management, leadership, digital upskilling, and innovation. Register Now.