What is OLC Ideate?

OLC Ideate is a free, collaborative, and dialogue-based virtual event. Designed around a series of open salons, OLC Ideate consists of casual and inclusive spaces with discussions organized and facilitated by a salon leader, offering educators of all levels the opportunity to listen to emerging ideas and effective practices from their peers. These casual discussions are designed to specifically encourage reflection, co-creation, and synthesis, with connections to future OLC (and partner-run) events for further collaboration.

Why Did We Create OLC Ideate?

OLC Ideate came as a response to the global pandemic that led many institutions down a path of emergency preparedness in the wake of temporary campus shutdowns. As we received requests from institutions for support with professional development and guidance on planning for continuity of instruction, we recognized the opportunity to engage our diverse and robust community of educators in conversations and collaboration around best practices for ensuring quality in online teaching and learning.

OLC Ideate makes its goal to both surface and model effective online engagement to educators, designers, practitioners and leaders of all levels and arenas. Moving past the notion of a passive, “sit-and-get” online experience, each salon focuses on inspiring participants to leverage the power of online and digital learning with the goal of extending impact and access to education. The OLC wants to support educators in creating a landscape where institutions are able to serve their learners without obstacles or disruption, particularly in this time of increased conversations of emergency preparedness and instructional continuity. Our hope is that in bringing people together for these salons, the effective practices and methods shared will serve as a model of what is possible in terms of collaborative and constructivist engagement in the online learning environment, staying with educators well beyond times of crisis.

Additionally, each OLC Ideate is meant to serve as a gathering point for community between our larger events. The connections made in each salon will become a springboard to the larger conversations and collaborations held in other events and opportunities to follow, where we invite you to join us, fueling the fire of the ideas sparked in the salon discussions of OLC Ideates.

How does it work?

In planning the format of the salons, we led with a driving design question – how might we make our online experiences together truly valuable and interactive?
Borrowing from emerging session styles (including our own popular OLC Collaborate events), we envisioned a series of open salons that would require hosts to consider how they might balance the following elements in a brief forty-five (45) minutes:

  • A brief explanation or provocation that ends with a challenge or driving question
  • A series of activities to engage participants in reflection and collaboration
  • A synthesis of the collaborative work of the group with a closure or call to action
  • The production of some sort of new idea, resource or artifact to be shared out after the salon

Part lightning talk, part collaborative session, and part design sprint, each salon is structured to be highly interactive and participatory. Salon leaders guide participants through discussions on topics related to a series of themes that the OLC, our collaborating partners, and our community broadly identify as central to our work and responsive to community needs.

Woman sitting with laptop at a table

Past OLC Ideate Salons

OLC Ideate—DEI Action Planning for Digital Learning Environments

In partnership with Every Learner Everywhere, we will be re-convening around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. During our December 2020 OLC Ideate event, we began serious work to name and confront many endemic discriminatory practices within our learning systems and environments with the creation of a working charter, centering our work around the following driving question:  

How might we create infrastructure, resources and support to ensure that our digital learning environments are equitable and inclusive of ALL learners?

We look forward to continuing the work and keeping the conversation going. At this event, we will be collaboratively dedicated to action! Didn’t join us for the first event? No worries! We’ve designed this follow-up event with you in mind, as well, and look forward to you joining us! Building on the outstanding work we have done together, we will create focused action plans designed to address DEI issues at several levels, from the individual to the profession. We need you, as collaborators, partners, thought leaders, colleagues, and friends.

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OLC Ideate—Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Digital Learning Environments (December 2020)

In partnership with Every Learner Everywhere, we will be convening around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Through this network of twelve partner associations focused on improving student outcomes for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, poverty-affected, and first generation students, we’ve collectively determined that through intentional collaborations, we must identify and operationalize critical support initiatives for equity within digital learning environments.

Join us for action-oriented and community-driven conversations on how to get started, where to go next, and how to lead in this work within your educational contexts. Best of all? Prepare to leave with new ideas, models and examples centered in best practices, and a new community to build with. Revisit OLC Ideate: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

OLC Ideate—Labs for Online STEM: Innovating STEM Education (August 2020)

The Online Learning Consortium and MERLOT held the inaugural OLC Ideate Labs for Online STEM: Innovating STEM Education 2020 event on August 19-21, 2020.  This virtual expo showcased a wide range of virtual and distance labs designed to support online STEM education, offered by both commercial and open educational resource (OER) providers. Bringing educators and providers together, the event provided guidance on how best to deploy different types of virtual labs to achieve successful learning outcomes, and centered educator use-cases of virtual lab stories as a connective practice. Revisit OLC Ideate STEM

OLC Ideate—Effective Practices for Online Teaching (April/May 2020)

Over the course of two weeks (April 21 – May 1), the OLC held a series of open salons (a casual and inclusive space with discussions organized and facilitated by a salon leader) offering educators of all levels the opportunity to listen to emerging ideas and effective practices from their peers. These casual discussions were designed to specifically encourage reflection, co-creation, and synthesis, with connections to future OLC events for further collaboration. Recordings of the June OLC Ideate Virtual Salons are available to OLC Professional and Institutional members. Revisit OLC Ideate Effective Practices for Online Teaching


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