One of the new features that we introduced at OLC Innovate this year was an online live stream that we called OLC Live. Through the magic of Zoom, we conducted more than twenty interviews and gave tours of the conference. You can see the YouTube playlist here: bit.ly/olcliveplaylist.

We were inspired in large part by the excellent work of Virtually Connecting. VC organizes Google Hangouts at dozens of conferences every year in an attempt to open the conference up to people who couldn’t attend in person. VC was active at OLC Innovate this year, hosting four sessions, and the leader on the ground of that effort, Autumm Caines, was also part of our OLC Live team.

Along with Autumm, Dave Goodrich, Kelvin Thompson and I collaborated to line up and conduct interviews and engage our online audience. I had not anticipated how much Zoom would support us, providing both the equipment for the broadcast and the help of the wonderful Paul Carmack, who became our producers for the 3-day long experiment.

Looking back on the experiment, I thought that the interview format worked really well. All of the interviews were great, including several sessions that were switched from discussions to interviews (e.g. Ken Bauer and Laura Gibbs). The interview-on-the-street sessions were also stellar. Dave and Autumm brought us into the Innovation Lab and Innovation Installation, and I think people got a good sense of  both of those spaces. 

The main shortcoming was that I did not do enough advertising and recruiting for online participation. We didn’t know how much organic participation we would get, which left us waiting until the conference started to see what happened. I wish we would have stuck with Virtually Connecting’s strategy of recruiting a list of participants for each discussion section. While this would have limited the size of the participant group, it would have also insured us against not having a participant group. I hope to replace the discussion sections next year with VC sections, if we can convince them to do 1 or 2 a day.

For next year, I would like to integrate OLC Live more into some of the other stuff going on at OLC Innovate. The most obvious place to do this would be to collaborate with the HBCU Summit and the Community College Summit. I would love if they hosted a couple hours each from their space to bring people into those conversations. I don’t know if those sessions take the form of interviews, VC sessions, man-on-the-street, or something new. We would likely still need to support these sessions from a production level.

I was nervous about having dead-air this year, but we ended up adopting a format where we cut away at the end of each segment to encapsulate pieces for YouTube. This worked really well and allowed us to have natural breaks in-between sessions. I would plan at least 10-15 minute breaks in between sessions next year, and would go off air completely during lunch, keynotes, and other events that are being streamed.

Highlights

Kelvin Thompson kicked off the first session and was a fantastic anchor for OLC Live throughout the first day of the conference. One of the most surprising conversations of OLC Live came in the first 20 minutes of the broadcast, when we were joined by Jim Gareth from Lakewood College. Jim was unfamiliar with OLC and the Innovate conference, but joined OLC Live, because of a tweet from Kelvin. This conversation gave Kelvin a chance to explain what our conference and our Live broadcast were about.

The next clip comes from one of Dave and Autumm’s tours of the conference. In this clip, Dave and Autumm walk us through the OLC Innovation Lab, helmed this year by the effervescent Keegan Long Wheeler.

One of the most important interviews of the conference was Autumm’s conversation with Kate Sonka and Michael Berman. They, along with Chris Gilliard, were co-chairs of the new Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

I conducted the last two interviews of the conference. The first of these was with one of the conference keynote speakers, Jordan Shapiro. Jordan gave a provocative talk about how time is a construct, and we should rethink the routinized daily schedules of school.

The last interview was with Jess Knott, Angela Gunder, and Cathy Russell. Most of our conversation focused on their presentation about applying Joseph Campbell’s concept of the monomyth to learning design. Jess and Angela were conference co-chairs, so we also talked about their experience of the conference and their hopes for next year.