Virtually Connecting at #OLCInnovate 2017

Coursera Partners’ Conference, March 28-31, 2017, Boulder, Colorado. Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Innovate, April 5-7, 2017, New Orleans.

These two conferences were scheduled too close to each other for me to attend both. Fortunately, we have Virtually Connecting! On April 5, 3:15 PM Central Time, I met up with onsite folks, Lora Taub-Pervizpour and Patrice Prusko, virtually, at OLC Innovate via Google Hangout. They shared with us the “new” Solution Design Summit. The session was facilitated by onsite buddies Michael Berman and virtual buddy Wendy Taleo.

OLC Innovate 2017 April 5 Virtually Connecting session with 3 onsite participants and 5 virtual participants using Google Hangout

The OLC onsite participants talked about a new event that OLC had created two years ago — the Solution Design Summit. Participation involves small teams from organizations and/or institutions submitting a solution to a challenge — one they can clearly identify for problem-solving. The solution must entail a creative, multi-disciplinary approach. There are several winning designs showcased on the OLC page. Don’t forget to check them out.

I was intrigued and definitely interested to see if I can submit something for the next conference. At the VC session, I asked a few questions about the metrics (criteria) used to assess a winning design. Note the advice Patrice and Lora gave:

  1. The committee is not looking for a presentation. They want to see that there is a challenge to overcome and that it is clearly articulated.
  2. Creativity is a major criterion used to assess the solutions.
  3. Teams must be interdisciplinary in nature, with team size ranging from 3 to 5.

These criteria sound simple and doable in theory. I will bear them in mind henceforth as I study situations in my institution that might offer a context for a possible submission.

I asked for examples of creative solutions and got several. Lora gave an example of an EdTech food truck that came up in a discussion, with the food truck as a metaphor for just-in-time training. Patrice gave an example of a tech crawl and an onsite participant, Kyle Johnson, referred to the PitchLX submission by the Metropolitan State University of Denver (Prospective Innovations in Teaching and Learning Experiences).

Another question I had for the onsite participants was the term “design thinking.” It appears to be tossed around quite frequently and I requested for some clarification from the committee on what their definition was. How were they using the concept? Patrice shared that they are adopting Stanford University’s d School’s model of design thinking. Check out Stanford University d School’s Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking. Patrice mentioned some key values of the model: gaining empathy for the user, listening for the story versus listening to the story, defining the problem from the point of view of the user, getting into the iterative prototyping, implementing, … The SDS committee hopes that teams will go back to campuses, implement their solutions and share back on how things worked.

Other session participants included Mariam from Pakistan, another Wendy (Freeman) from Ryerson University, Apostolos Koutropoulos from the University of Massachusetts and Mark Corbett Wilson. Mariam had some questions about OLC’s conference for community colleges. It was encouraging to hear that OLC is reaching out to partner with different higher education institutions. In response to Wendy’s question about sustaining SDS’s efforts, Patrice mentioned the possibility of setting up communication systems such as Slack channels.

This session was a bite-sized just-in-time training nugget, like an Innovation Food Truck, to borrow the metaphor! I enjoyed meeting my Twitter friends Maha Bali and Autumm Caines again! Wendy Taleo and Micheal Berman were fantastic buddies. Thank you for another great VC session.

View video below:

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