Report from Orlando: Attending My First Sloan-C Conference

Fun From Orlando, FL

I’ve always wanted to come to this conference, and here I am.  Reporting live. I arrived this afternoon (it’s in Orlando, FL this year – the 17th annual – at the Dolphin Hotel on Disney property) and, as I’m beginning to scribe this first post, the Disneyworld fireworks are going off in the background (a fitting end to a very exciting day).

For those unfamiliar with the Sloan-Consortium, they are an organization dedicated to excellence in online education and this is one of their three international/national conferences. The people here (some 1200 or so) come from higher education, K-12, business, government, healthcare, and non-profits. This year’s conference theme is Online Learning, Teaching, and Research in the New Media Ecology.

I was only able to squeeze in a few presentations this afternoon. A terrific one on student blogging with Dr. Susan Wegman – how to, rubrics, and evaluating. Here’s the prezi with some extremely intriguing data and insights. And here’s the blog post with links to the rubrics.

The Impact of Online Learing on the Higher Education Faculty Professional identity” was a very interesting session with a researcher named Edwige Simon (CU Boulder). She conducted research with ten faculty teaching online (using Blackboard) to get inside what worked and didn’t work for them and the impact the experience had on their professional identity. Her recommendations, based on the outcomes, are that instructors making the transition to online teaching need:  an injection of outside expertise (via conferences, outside speakers), to form reading groups (exposure to research in the field), to conduct action research in their courses, and to become a member of a community of practice for support and sharing.

The keynote presentation, at the end of the day, with Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet and the American Life Project, was fabulous! Rainie did a bang-up job sharing a raft of fascinating data and he did it in such a way that you gained inferences and insight that helped you to draw conclusions without drowning in a point of view. Here is his site where you can find a description of his talk and download his slides. But here are a few gems that he shared:

There were 302.9 million wireless subscribers in America in 2010 and now, in 2011, there are 327.6 million

So, with 315 million people in America, that means that there are now more wireless subscribers than there are people!

And how’s this one:

82% of 12-17 year-olds take their cell phones with them to bed (and leave them on!)

And I think one of my favorite lines….”We live our lives in a state of continuous partial attention.”  Hmm…that one will take some mulling over.  Onward to tomorrow!

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