Is OLC innovate worth attending, in person?

Higher Education

Peter Eyre
by Peter Eyre
Is OLC innovate worth attending, in person?

9 tips, trends and talking points from OLC innovate 2023 

‘In person’ is back… and we’d missed it! 

Here’s the highlights of what we learnt and loved whilst attending our first OLC (Online Learning Consortium) Innovate Conference at the Gaylord Opryland resort in Nashville this April. 

Whether you’re an educator, instructional designer, or exhibitor - our top 9 experiences and insights as attendees and exhibitors might be of interest if you’re considering attending this event next time around… 

1. The location… 

Nashville is awesome. What a positive vibe… the buzz of Broadway, honky tonks, history and amazing live music everywhere you turn... even the exhibition area had incredible acoustic artists to keep us entertained throughout the day. Our favorite bar…’The Stage’ 

2. The Venue 

The Gaylord at Opryland Resort and Convention Centre is like NOTHING we had seen before; rainforest like atriums, waterfalls, a river with boat rides, 2,888 guest rooms, 15 restaurants, waterslides, climbing walls… and a half an hour walk from one end to the other without ever stepping outside! Something between being in ‘The Truman Show’ and ‘Biodome’ (90’s enough to remember that!?).

3. The OLC crew!  

The OLC organizers are the friendliest, most focused and fun bunch of people you could ask to meet. Lots of support in the lead up, a warm welcome and the scene set for a successful partnership for future events. So glad we got a pic of Angela's crab hat!

4. The good ol’ boys…  

Dukes of Hazard inspired hood slides and window climbs were an integral part of our childhoods so imagine the nostalgia infused delight of finding ‘Cooters’  Dukes of Hazard museum opposite our hotel... and then finding real a life Duke brother inside!! (Coy, for those that know their Dukes history!) 

5. The appetite for student engagement and active learning 

Vevox now stands as THE #1 rated student polling and anonymous Q&A platform in the world, but until recently has been relatively unknown in the USA. Speaking to teachers, instructional designers and edtech managers we learnt that the key priorities, and reasons why Vevox is being so well received were:
  • VLE integrations that really work and are not cumbersome to implement are key and we witnessed some delighted/surprised faces when we demoed ours! 
  • Students need an equal opportunity to contribute and feel a part of lessons whether in person or online, learning synchronously or asynchronously. 
  • Increasingly student polling platforms are being adopted at a department or institutional level.  It’s essential to be able to centrally administrate and manage licensing and use. 
  • The days of the physical clickers are done. They were game changers in their day but they cannot compete on cost, functionality and accessibility with modern software and app based student response systems. 
  • The Ed tech landscape is evolving fast. Individuals and institutions are not afraid to try, and move to new technologies as their needs evolve and technology advances. To stay relevant and useful we have to keep up… See the next point. 

 6. The arrival of AI:

The positive and negative impacts AI's arrival in education cannot be ignored. We were extremely pleased to find ourselves on the positive end of this debate with attendees though. Our AI integration, which creates instant Quizzes AND inputs them into the Vevox system was an instant hit! In one demo we created and ran a Nashville Music quiz in less than 2 minutes leaving all involved instant Country Music experts! 

7. The baggage… 

Don’t put all your eggs (well, marketing collateral) in one basket (Checked bag!). Our stand looked a little empty early on at this conference due to a delayed bag from our flight.

Lesson learnt!

8. The Swag   

What’s an exhibition without a few branded takeaways (for the kids of course)? Our bamboo fiber reusable coffee cups flew off the tables (when they finally arrived - see point above!).

Other top picks included… Amazon voucher draws, teddy bears, luggage tags and even a Nashville inspired Lego Fender Stratocaster. Functional, sustainable or digital definitely the trends here.  

Our favorite swag moment… An attendee touring the stands with a trolley on the final day… ‘I’m here for my kids’ - we’re assuming she either has 30 or means her class!! 

9. The Crown!

Everyone who heard our British accents wanted to talk about it! And, I was very pleased to be able to share that yes… I have met the King! (whilst running a quiz at St James’s Palace in London using our audience response tech!!) 
All in all, it was a fantastic experience! Thanks for welcoming us, great to meet you all and we look forward to the next one… 

Pete, Joe and Dermott