07 Jul Online Learning Camp 2017 – Instructional Design and Online Teaching UnConference

Big things happened at Wheelock College on Friday, July 14th during our 4th annual Online Learning Camp. Many higher education professionals, as well as instructional technologists were present and attentive as speakers took their places in front of the masses.

We were able to fuel up with breakfast and coffee before starting the first break out sessions, “Beyond the Basics: Oers, Articulate Storyline, and HTML5” with Jim Lacey, PhD and “Learn the Ins and Outs of Gamification” with Jim Egan and Naomi Pariseault. After these, an excitement began to fill the common area as guests made the switch to the next available sessions. After sitting in on the gamification session, a professor from Boston College, Adela Penagos declared that, “It was a wonderful workshop. It was excellent to see that we can even use some of [Jim Egan’s] ideas into our platform, which is Canvas, so I found it very helpful.”

Following these, “Grading Papers: End the Torture” given by Jean Marrapodi, PhD was another topic that became an instant hit. Dr. Marrapodi expressed the importance of effectively utilizing online tools that would not only encourage students to think at a higher level, but also present the same concept in a different perspective. Jill Kearney, an instructor at Bay State, found the session fascinating by saying “[Jean Marrapodi] was fantastic at showing a lot of [free] resources that can be used to improve on the composition of online course content.”

After a short break, the group merged to “Digital Storytelling,” which was another popular session that drew the crowd’s attention. Kate Hassey, the marketing director at Storyboard That, expressed the idea that storyboard and digital storytelling enhance students’ learning experience. She also mentioned that the product was designed for people who are creative but cannot draw. With the help of Storyboard That, students in ever changing and diverse classroom will be able to communicate not only to their teachers, but also their peers by completing their thoughts on a storyboard.

As lunchtime quickly approached, everyone took a quick break to not only grab a bite to eat, but to enjoy each other's company and discuss matters outside of the classroom. Many people took this opportunity to network and meet other guests who shared the same interests and career goals. Zach Fichman-Klein, a user experience designer mentioned, “It has been great so far to learn about how to use a lot of different tools for educational resources and also for networking and to meet with other people in the industry.”

Succeeding lunch, Mary Wiseman, M.A., M.S. and Chris Gaudreau, M.Ed. from Bay Path University, took the stand as they talked about how their university is currently approaching professional development for busy full-time and far-flung adjunct faculty. The Center for Online & Digital Learning acts as an important factor in the program in which it offers a series of synchronous sessions and an opportunity to share ideas from various community members.

As the event came to a close, all of the guests filed into a single classroom to hear Michael Kilmurray break down how exactly Harvard University has increased their online course offerings by 20% in the last three years. This huge accomplishment made by Harvard sparked a multitude of interest that left the room crowded with conversation even after the session came to a close. When guests finally made their way to the common area for last remarks and exchanging of business cards, the overwhelming success of the camp became apparent.

When saying our thank yous and goodbyes, many people were generous in giving closing comments on the camp overall. Patricia Allen, who is a staff member of Cape Cod Community College said, “I highly recommend this conference. I lucked into this conference at the last minute and I would recommend anyone to come.” those who presented also had positive words to give after being able to sit in on sessions themselves - “It was so validating to connect with some really ultra-cool, smart people who are doing creative things” says Naomi Pariseault.

Between the guests, presenters, and even employees - it is safe to say that everyone was able to walk away from the camp with newfound knowledge that could potentially be used to create a successful future in a collection of careers. Not only has this opportunity been a meeting point for higher education instructors, but it has also been a hotspot for strategy, innovation, and accessibility in the online learning world.

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