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Fall Conferences Offer Networking, Fresh Perspectives

Distance Learning -- Mon, 09/10/2018 - 3:20pm

Are you looking to take your online course design skills to the next level? Conferences are a great opportunity to network, hone your skills, and stay abreast of the latest tools and techniques in the world of online learning.

Both Quality Matters Connect and Online Learning Consortium Accelerate are right around the corner.

QM Connect will be held Oct. 30-Nov. 2, in St. Louis, Missouri, while OLC’s Accelerate Conference will be held Nov. 14-16 in Orlando, Florida, as it is every year.

UL Lafayette School of Music and Performing Arts Director Jonathan Kulp has attended and presented at both and said the conferences have a lot to offer.University of Louisiana at Lafayette's Dr. Jonathan Kulp, director of the School of Music and Performing Arts, presents during a tabletop discussion session at OLC.

“There’s something that just about anybody at any level of engagement with distance learning can find helpful, from people who are just starting out to those who’ve been doing it for a really long time,” he said. “You get that camaraderie and understanding from being around people who are doing similar things or maybe doing something you’d like to try and you can pick their brains and find out how it’s going for them.”

As a presenter, Kulp said, the atmosphere was far warmer and more low-key than other academic conferences.

“It’s a very welcoming community,” he said. “It’s not a bunch of people who are trying to rip you apart or pick holes in what you’re doing. It’s a mutually supportive bunch of people.”

Another benefit? Faculty may be able to use Distance Learning funds within their department to cover the cost of the conferences, which is why, Kulp said, he’s been trying to encourage other faculty within the School of Music and Performing Arts to attend.

“You can get fully funded to go on the trip, which cannot be said of a lot of other travel for faculty here at the university,” he said.

Departments that provide hybrid and online course offerings receive a percentage of Distance Learning fees generated from student enrollment in those courses. Among the eligible uses for those funds are these conferences, which foster professional development and promote online learning.

“The one thing that we always need is for the person making the request to explain how the request will support overall online/hybrid instruction or subject matter/course quality in online and hybrid courses at the University,” said Stephen McGoffin, Distance Learning business manager.

Faculty members should complete a Routing Cover Sheet for E-Learning Support Funds and attach it with their Travel Request before travel takes place, McGoffin said. 

2018 Conference Close-up

Office of Distance Learning Interim Director Claire Arabie and Instructional Designer Carey Hamburg present during a past OLC conference. The QM Connect conference is celebrating its 10th anniversary in St. Louis, Missouri, and offers attendees a chance to, “Discover solutions to your online learning challenges including engagement, accessibility and sustainability with 10 concentrations to choose from.”

Registration starts at $685 and includes some meals. Register and find more information on the event website

OLC’s Accelerate conference in Orlando aims to, “drive quality online learning, advancing best practice guidance and accelerating innovation in learning for academic leaders, educators, administrators, online learning professionals and organizations around the world.”

Register online before Sept. 19 for a rate of $670 or after Sept. 19 for $745. 

If you can’t make it to Florida, register as a virtual attendee for $150.

OLC will also host its OLC Innovate Conference April 3-5, 2019, in Denver, Colorado. 

The conference will comprise hands-on sessions to explore and problem solve through collaboration.

The registration fee for this conference is $695 through Feb. 6.