LSA-ISS Instructional Consultant, Elizabeth Fomin at the Online Learning Consortium Innovate Conference

Although the name of the consortium is the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), the conference topics were not limited to online learning alone. Active and blended learning topics and vendors supporting those learning activities were prevalent every day of the event. The OLC Innovate conference had an attendance of 1200 participants and consists of a multitude of sessions in many different formats. The all-day pre-conference workshop I attended on Tuesday was titled Introducing Digital Technologies on Your Campus. The pre-conference session was sponsored by the New Media Consortium (NMC) ( and included interactive activities and opportunities to try out new web software platforms. Part of the workshop was a presentation on the new framework for implementing digital technologies on campuses at different levels of the organization. It is a thoughtful guide to use as structure when considering all kinds of technologies, not just those associated with teaching and learning.

Another exciting tool featured during the conference was Padlet. Padlet simulates a virtual bulletin board that allows users to quickly post and comment on media posts in a live collaborative website that is personalized and secure (or public, if the author chooses) Many use cases were presented for how Padlet can be used in educational environments.

Attending a large conference is always so rewarding with many opportunities to talk with educators and technologists from around the country and share stories. The most valuable takeaways are often a profound appreciation of the challenges we all share while commiserating with our colleagues.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time comparing notes with two instructional technologists from the North Dakota State (NDSU) who were attending the conference for the first time. Their technology adoption challenges were similar in many ways to those we face at UM, with an added element of complexity - there are nine remote campuses at NDSU to coordinate when there is an effort to implement a particular technology solution.

It is easy to get tunnel vision when I am problem-solving and implementing projects at UM, without considering that many of our colleagues around the country have the same challenges.

Consortiums like OLC and NMC leverage that community of colleagues and help clarify the edtech marketplace for intelligent decision-making when committing to technologies long term, and also facilitate the collaboration of professionals and offer courses in new technology and practices. The University of Michigan is a member of the OLC, online courses are available to staff and faculty at a reduced price.

Online Learning Consortium Innovate Conference in New Orleans, April 9-11, 2017