My university has graciously sent me to the annual SLOAN-C conference this year, hosted in Orlando, FL. SLOAN-C is an organization whose primary focus is the advancement of online education and distance learning. It’s been a wonderful experience so far, and I’d like to share just a few random thoughts from the first full day of the conference.
First, some general thoughts: it seems like everyone here is passionate for what they do. They don’t do online learning because they “fell back” on it, or because it’s “just a job.” These people–presenters, vendors, and attendees alike–love online education and are hungry for ways to improve themselves and their sphere of influence.
Second, in regard to implementing quality standards for online education, while it may feel like we are behind the times, we’re not alone. Even those who have cut through the red tape jungle with their bleeding-edge education machetes are experiencing issues with implementing quality standards and enforcing faculty development and other aspects necessary for accreditation.
[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]It seems like everyone here is passionate for what they do.[/pullquote]Thirdly, everyone struggles with creating engaging discussion boards online. There are probably more sessions devoted to asynchronous discussion than any other singular topic available for these attendees. Some takeaways I found today are: create pre-defined roles, include argumentative statements in your instructions, and focus on real-world experiences.
Finally, these folks are in love with social media (mostly). With the exception of a few luddites, everyone I see is tweeting, Instagramming, Vine-ing(?), and making new LinkedIn connections. Even people who have rarely (or never) participated in the social media waters are dipping their toes in. The conference has even gamified the act of participating in the social sphere by offering “badges” (in the form of stickers) for people who tweet, post Instagram photos, comments on LinkedIn, YouTube videos, etc. [Yours truly is earning his “Sloan Ninja” badge by completing this very post.]
See you tomorrow for Day-2!
— Ryan Corcoran (@rgcorcoran) November 20, 2013