What *IS* Innovation? Tell us. The CFP for OLC Innovate 2016 (#OLCinnovate) is OPEN!

What *IS* innovation?

This is the FIRST question the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) co-chairs, Karen VignarePaige McDonald and I, asked each other as we started to organize the *NEW* OLC Innovate Conference (#OLCinnovate). Innovation is a BIG word. It means so many different things, to so many different people. Before putting out the call and promoting the #OLCInnovate conference (happening April 20-22, 2016 in  New Orleans, LA), we thought carefully about who we wanted to join the planning team and how to design a conference experience to live up to the “hype” of the word INNOVATE. This conference was formed to merge the best ideas of blended learning (from #blend15) and emerging technologies for online learning (from #et4online); however we expect this meeting in NOLA — OLC Innovate 2016 — to be SO MUCH MORE! Thanks to our AMAZING #OLCInnovate Steering Committee (Tw-shout outs HERE and HERE) we support to hash out what innovation means for the program tracks, developed thoughtful session types for program delivery/format, and, we hope, this conference will model the learning design we all strive for at our institutions and organizations.


So WHY should you attend #OLCinnovate 2016? [What’s in it for me? you ask.]

  • Advancing learning requires continuous visionary leadership from all disciplines
  • Connecting with multiple stakeholders (i.e. learners, educators, administrators, trainers, researchers, administrators, faculty, policy-makers, designers, and industry leaders) to strategize about the evolving needs at our institutions and organizations
  • Sharing learning and development ideas for all levels – K-12, higher education, & industry
  • Implementing solution-based approaches to learning design, support, and structure
  • Researching and developing evidence-based practices for learning is now more critical than ever.

Our #OLCinnovate planning team thinks this conference is a great opportunity to bring ideas, perspectives, research, and practices to the table to truly support innovation in education. The program tracks are structured around areas we all face with learning and development in K-12, higher education, and industry:

  • Workforce Innovation – connections from K-12 to higher ed to the workforce, curriculum to meet industry needs, partnerships for learning & work
  • Structural Innovation – systemic challenges, organization of education, learning spaces, partnerships between educators & technology solutions
  • Pedagogical Innovation – course & program approaches, methods, design, assessment models, etc.
  • Challenging Barriers to Innovation – digital divide, OER, Open Access, sharing evidence, ethical research collaborations, opportunities and areas for learning growth
  • Propose Your Own Topic – Tell us what YOU think innovation IS or what is missing!


The call for proposals (CFP) is OPEN until November 9 December 2, 2015 

Program Format (Session Types) include:

  1. Conversations That Work – why have a panel, when you can facilitate a discussion on the topic with others in the room? Think of questions, discussion prompts, and ideas you want to chat about for this 45-minute session.
  2. Emerging Ideas – Forget the “traditional poster session” we want you to share your practice, research, and work-in-progress ideas in 10-15 minutes to get ideas, feedback, and suggestions during this networking event with both on-site & virtual attendees.
  3. Innovation Labs – 5-minute chat about the concept/idea; 20-minute demonstration; 20-minute applied skills for learning, technology, research, design, or other.
  4. Research Highlights & Trends – 15-minute presentation on your original research; abstract due in November; final, full paper due January 31, 2016 with the potential to be invited to a special issue of the Online Learning journal.
  5. Workshops – these are interactive 90-minute sessions with valuable take-away learning outcomes for participants (free to all conference participants).
  6. Education Sessions – a 45-minute lecture about an idea/concept with 5-10 minutes for Q & A at the end.

There are a number of helpful tips provided on the CFP page; however if you have questions or needs, I would be happy to support you with your proposal development/submission. It is getting the right PEOPLE and VOICES to the table that adds value to any learning and development experience. Please help us invite of institutional stakeholders from education (K-12 and higher ed), and industry (technology, design, L & D, and corporate training) to #OLCinnovate. Share this blog post with your peers, and tell me who the #OLCinnovate planning team should reach out to or invite. Thanks!


Upcoming announcements of other #OLCinnovate program features, speakers, highlights, and are coming soon… stay tuned for more updates!

Twitter to Enhance Learning & Performance

Twitter provides the opportunity to have micro-conversations in 140 characters or less. This social media platform has been repurposed by a number of educators for workplace learning. Twitter is not the only form of professional development available and you do not have to tweet to learn.  That being said, an increasing number of educators have repurposed and remixed Twitter for work learning and performance. You would be surprised what 140 characters can do to create community and interaction online. A number of grassroots initiatives have developed for educators to consider Twitter as part of their professional development plans for informal learning, scholarly development, and shared practices. For me, the last seven years spent on Twitter has been invaluable. This platform continues to provide an open, informal learning space to collaborate and banter with a community of educators. Thanks for that, Larry.

Twitter Bird in the Lattice

Flickr photo c/o Brian Kopp

Twitter is really the “water-cooler” for educators to share news, post reports/trends, read the news, review research, ask questions, gather information, and curate knowledge. Educators are increasingly expressing ideas and linking to relevant websites, videos, articles, images, etc. related the workforce.  This commentary and resources were shared for my own learners and other training participants who want to “get started” with workplace learning and performance – so I welcome your shared suggestions for helpful Twitter resources and tips in the comments below.

The Twitter Basics:

Hashtags & Backchannels


Hashtag: A symbol used in Twitter messages, the # symbol, used to identify keywords or topics in a Tweet. The hashtag was an organic creation by Twitter users as a way to categorize Twitter messages and link keywords posted on Twitter. Besides a current event or pop culture reference, Twitter has been an essential part of the conference tool kit to support sharing on the backchannel. You no longer have to be in-person to engage in the workshops, presented talks, or round table discussions via the live experience. There’s now a full stream of activity created around single hashtags for professional development and workplace learning events.

Here are just a few Hashtags to SEARCH and Follow:  

  • #AcWri (academic writing)
  • #highered
  • #digped
  • #edtech and #onlinelearning
  • #phdchat and #gradchat and #SAdoc
  • #Open and #OER and #openaccess
  • #acadv (academic advising)
  • #StudentAffairs and #sachat
  • And MORE!
  • P.D. hashtags related to your field and conferences, e.g. 2015 Education and Ed Tech Conferences [Psssst… you can add to it if  I’m missing any!]

What Is a Twitter Chat and How to Make the Most of ItTwitter chats are threaded discussions using a hashtag to dialogue about a specific subject.Twitter chats are linked conversations via a single hashtag that participants can search, follow, and include in their own Tweet as they respond during the Twitter chat time. Twitter chats are similar to online chats, forums, or discussion boards; however they are often synchronous and active during a designated date and time. The hashtag for many chats continue past the “live” event on Twitter for others who want to share and engage. Some Twitter chats guide the discussion or have open topics central theme, while others Twitter chats are moderated in a structured question-response format.

Other Twitter Tips & Resources:

Got Hashtag? [Gathering Edu & Ed Tech Conference Hashtags]

HashtagLauraI am wrangling up hashtags from all 2015 education and education conferences. If you know of a conference with a hashtag, let me know. ADD the conference name, hashtag, and the conference website HERE (or here http://goo.gl/6Uvlvs).

Giddy up!

Technological Advancements & Considerations for Student Affairs at #ACPA15

This week I will be in Tampa, FL for the 2015 ACPA Convention (Follow #ACPA15 chat on Twitter). Besides getting a chance to warm up from the chilly winter weather, I am looking forward to connecting with a number of student affairs (SA) professionals and faculty who will be attending. This year’s convention holds a number of informative and interactive sessions in the program to support professional development and scholarly research for SA educators. I have a few meetings (#ACPAdigital and #ACPA16, I’m looking at you!); however I am really looking forward to catching up with a number of colleagues who will be in attendance. I suspect a number of hugs and high fives will happen soon.

ACPA Tampa 2015

Part of my time in the next couple of days will be spent with the fine folks I have been fortunate to work with on the ACPA Digital Task Force (#ACPAdigital).


The association established #ACPAdigital to make recommendations on how student affair educators can best advance the application of digital technology in higher education, specifically through informed scholarship and practice. Being charged with reviewing how ACPA will be a leader in the field, this task force was divided into four working subgroups:

  • Proven Practices
  • Knowledge and Skills
  • Research and Scholarship
  • Informed and Responsible Engagement with Social Technology

While serving on the #ACPAdigital task force this year, I can personally say, the efforts made to evaluate and assess  and how current educators shape student development for digital learning has been impressive. As I review the 49-page report we are sharing with the ACPA leadership this week, I am looking forward to the conversations we will have about our findings, recommendations, questions and proposed research agenda. It is critical that student affairs and learner support entities in post-secondary education consider how technological advancements will impact the work we do with students in face-to-face, blended, and online learning environments. This groups needs to be at the table for discussions on distance education and workforce preparation considerations. I am excited to be part of the discussion and push to move in this direction with student affairs. To learn more about this report and #ACPAdigital’s work, be sure to review the task force website:  http://digitaltaskforce.myacpa.org/

As a member of the Informed and Responsible Engagement with Social Technology (IREST) group, I was part of the collaborative author team who contributed to updating Erik Qualman’s What Happens in Vegas Goes on YouTube. The last few months of swapping ideas, sharing resources, discussing issues, and making edits with Paul, Jason, Courtney, and Erik has been great – and we’re so pleased that we are able to share our efforts this week at #ACPA15:

campus book launch ad.003

The ACPA co-branded book, What Happens on Campus Stays on YouTube, is designed to have your students reflect on their digital identity, with regards to their college experience and future personal/professional development. For #ACPA15, early release copies of book will be available for sale ($11.99) and the official launch on Amazon/public sale will be in April 2015. If you want to get a sneak peek of the book before everyone else, get your copy at the ACPA Booth in the Expo Hall or join our #SAreads event happening on Saturday (3/7) from 12:30-1:30 pm at the #ACPATrendingNow roundtables in the Marketplace with Courtney and myself. If you are interested in bulk orders for your curriculum or campus, please be sure to reach out to Courtney O’Connell so she can discuss options best for your institutional needs.

Will you be found at the harbor front this week for #ACPA15? Let me know – I would love to have a chat and catch up. See you soon!

Twitter for Professional Development… Make it Part of Your PD Plan. #SAchallenge

In the field of learning and performance, there are a number of ways to train and develop employees. A number of professional organizations and educational institutions are interested in supporting online learning communities to enhance learning and development for “the workforce of tomorrow.” This often results in going to where the communities are already active online, i.e. social media. A number of social spaces, including blogs, videos, microblogs, and photo sharing websites, have been repurposed for training and development by the community. One of the largest areas for professional development has been on Twitter with users aggregating around a hashtag to form a community. In higher education, a number of Twitter-based communities of practice are emerging as the “combination of improved facility and user flexibility has created an environment in which networks and communities, albeit of a restricted kind, can flourish (Lewis & Rush, 2013).


It is no wonder why we see The #SAChat January Twitter Challenge #SAchallenge appear with the start of the new year. Although I’ve been loosely off the social grid for the holidays, I tuned back in to find these January #SAChallenge prompts posted to get connected and involved on Twitter:

During the month of January, we will be tweeting out various challenges and ideas of ways you can engage on Twitter – starting with basic how-tos and moving towards looking at different ways to engage through the medium. Each weekday will bring at least one “challenge” – something you can do to either learn more about using Twitter or to refresh yourself and make you think about using it differently, especially within the #SAChat community. We’ll be posting the challenges here if you miss one and want to catch up.

I applaud the @The_ SA_Blog community managers for facilitating the #sachallenge.  To best support learning and development, The SA Collective L-Team are actively supporting their online subscribers and cultivating the #SAchat hashtag, by utilizing these key community management skills:

  • Listen. It might be a great space to broadcast and disseminate content – but that’s not how you hold a conversation. What do people what to talk about, not just receive? What is the online community engaged in? What are the conversations about online? Take a minute to read and learn from others online.
  • Participate. You need to be a community member, too. Try to join conversations as a peer contributor, not a facilitator. Contribute useful ideas, articles, research, and more. Your online community will want you to be actively sharing online like others in their learning community.
  • Include. Let others help find and create content, guide conversation, start new discussions. It’s a change for many of us in the field who what to “lead” the professional development experience, but will pay off in a more vibrant, sustainable community. Encourage members of the community to be the active voice.

I think Twitter is a key component of my own learning and development, and I often encourage others (i.e. students, professionals, faculty, etc) to set up their own Twitter handle [HOW TO: Set Up a Twitter Account], and/or follow along with the community hashtag. I am also more than happy to connect and chat with those of you who reach out to me on Twitter (a.k.a. @laurapasquini), or by any other means if you want to to talk about Twitter or professional development. Although the #SAchat hashtag focusses on the Student Affairs arena there are a number of other higher education and discipline-based Twitter communities to follow. Check out any number of Twitter chats you can learn from this year: http://bit.ly/TwitterChatSchedule    

Dubbed the Twitter Queen by @hglez9

Photo mashup credit goes out to @hglez9

That being said, I also caution using Twitter as the only means for learning and development. As an avid Twitter user, who has learned a great deal from tweeting over the past few years, I have a healthy skepticism that Twitter is the “best” platform for delivering professional development. Apparently, I am not alone. Audrey Watters recently asked this question in her blog post “Is Twitter the Best Option for Online Professional Development?” and identified both its benefits and challenges. Twitter has created opportunities for conversation, research, collaboration, and support; however I have also witnessed spam bots, self-promoting followers, bullying, disciplinary implications in academia, and other not-so-nice things.  I was reminded by Audrey that “there is a fragility to our ability to connect and share online. Some of that fragility comes when we opt to rely on for-profit companies to run the infrastructure. We do not own the conversations on Twitter. We have limited control over our data and the content we create and share there.” That is not to say you should not participate and engage – but don’t let Twitter be the ONLY only means for your PD.

In my opinion, I think Twitter can augment, not replace, learning and development. Let Twitter be one part of your professional development plan for 2015, and then ask yourself what do you want to learn? Think about what goals you are setting for yourself first, and then consider the spaces you want to engage in this year. Always put your PD goals ahead of the platform, and then go searching for where you want to engage this year. You might also consider searching out training and development opportunities at your institution, at your professional associations, with trade/professional journals, by reading new literature & books, through research projects, signing up for a course/seminar/webinar, by conducting an informational interview, by reaching out to others in your network, and always by discussing your goals with mentors and peers from the field. Perhaps you might even take the time to reflect on these training experiences when you return to/start some bloggery (Thanks for the term, Bryan) to process your learning and development. Good luck with your PD goals for 2015! Let me know if or how I can help.


Lewis, B., & Rush, D.  (2013). Experience of developing Twitter-based communities of practice in higher education. Research in Learning Technology, 21. Retrieved from http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/18598 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v21i0.18598.

Watters, A. (2014, December 17). Is Twitter the best option for online professional development? Hack Education. Retrieved from http://hackeducation.com/2014/12/17/twitter-professional-development/.

Have Conferences, Will Travel – Fall 2014 Edition

With the start of the academic semester comes a series of conferences. I’m grateful for the conference survival guides and other helpful conference hacks shared by my PLN. Due to limited travel funds and time, I had to decline a few conferences; however I will be sure to follow along the Twitter backchannel (I am looking at you #HEWeb14 and #SMSociety14).

In considering the cost of professional development at many conferences, I have learned to get more involved to help fund this sort of travel.


Image c/o @jure

Here are a few ways to get involved and learn how to fund your own conference travel with your professional affiliations:

  • Volunteer at the conference – check-in desk, hospitality, and more! Ask to volunteer!
  • Apply to present a Pre-Conference workshop – often you are eligible for comped registration and/or bonus honorarium to travel.
  • Get involved with conference planning – join the conference steering committee or planning group. It gets you networked and often offers a discount for registration and/or accommodations
  • Get invited – See if invites are available for featured talks, workshops or edu sessions. Tap into your network and share what you are working on.
  • Stay with a friend – I have housed and been housed at a number of conference locations just to avoid the steep hotel costs. Bunk up, or find a local off the conference beat.
  • Apply for a travel grant – This might be at your own institution, through the professional organization, or other entity.
  • See what’s local – You will be surprised to learn a number of different conferences, workshops, and other P.D. that is happening in your own neck of the woods OR online. :)
  • Present virtually! – Limited travel? See if the conference offers virtual papers, workshops or posters and submit your CFP! If you’re in the #edtech realm, you will likely find this a popular option to travel.

Here is my quick conference list for the Fall 2014 term:

Where are you traveling this academic term? Will our conference travel cross paths? How have you creatively spread your travel funds? Please share. :)

5 Ways to Support Your Professional Development with #AcAdv Chat

Do you make New Year resolutions?  Or is it just time to set some goals for the academic semester? Academic advisors often support their student and the success of others; however to do this well it is important to take time to “sharpen the tool” to learn as well.

PD with #AcAdv Chat

In the spirit of the new year and improvement, here are 5 quick and easy ways to learn, grow, and develop as an academic advisor with #AcAdv Chat:

  1. Read the #AcAdv Chat Archives: There is a wealth of great ideas, messages, websites, and resources shared on the #AcAdv Chat Blog from past @AcAdvChat sessions for you to READ in the #AcAdv Chat ARCHIVES.
  2. Lurk on #AcAdv Chat: Maybe you are new to Twitter and are just learning how to tweet. We want to help you learn more About #AcAdv Chat. If you want to explore Twitter for the professional development check out one of our weekly LIVE sessions every TUESDAY from 12-1 pm CT by following the conversation here: http://tweetchat.com/room/AcAdv
  3. Sign Up For Twitter & Follow the #AcAdv Community: Get connected with academic advisors who are on Twitter. . Follow @AcAdvChat on Twitter or “like” our #AcAdv Chat Facebook Page. Also connect to a growing group of advisors who participate in @AcAdvChat and often tweet using the #AcAdv hashtag. Here’s a list of advisors on Twitter curated by one of our #AcAdv Chat Moderators.
  4. Participate in a LIVE #AcAdv Chat: Once you have read a few archives, signed up for your own Twitter account, and witnessed the @AcAdvChat during a LIVE session on Tuesday from 12-1 pm CT –JOIN IN! It will be a moderated (MOD) discussion  in a series of Questions (Q) and responses like this:

Question posted by the MOD @AcAdvChat:


Response from #AcAdv Chat Participants using the #AcAdv hashtag:

Response5. Give #AcAdv Chat Feedback: Tell us what YOU want to discuss during the weekly chats – we LOVE feedback! Or perhaps you want to get involved as an #AcAdv Chat Moderator (MOD) or have another idea for us. Let us know here: http://acadvchat.wordpress.com/feedback/

This blog post is cross-posted at The #AcAdv Chat Blog.

Note to Readers: Not interested in #AcAdv Chat? Check out one of the MANY Twitter chats to connect, learn, and grow with in YOUR field from this shared Google Doc: http://bit.ly/TwitterChatSchedule Happy tweeting & learning!