The 2020 IU Online Conference drew a record crowd of 1,303 registrants and more than 700 attendees. For the first time, the conference was conducted virtually, via Canvas, and was extended to three days. On day one, attendees could attend any of five pre-conference workshops led by eLearning Design and Services. On days two and three, participants could choose from among a total of 24 Zoom presentations. Sessions showcased viewpoints, ideas, and resources from across the university's faculty and staff.
A special conference "team" in Microsoft Teams provided opportunities for chatting, collaborating, sharing ideas with colleagues, and exploring the tool itself. Topic-specific "rooms" provided spaces to discuss student services; program assessment; effective online teaching; and marketing, admissions, and recruitment. A social lounge provided a space for casual conversation.
Associate Vice President Chris Foley, in opening remarks, cited IU Online's model of cooperation as fundamental to its success. Collaboration requires an investment of time but ensures that faculty, academic departments, and schools oversee content and delivery so that online students get comparable quality and services as those in face-to-face programs. The modality makes education accessible to more students, regardless of other commitments that may occupy their lives.
In his welcoming remarks, Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs John Applegate called the flip to online delivery in response to the pandemic "a remarkable change in a remarkably short period of time." IU's expertise, resources, digital infrastructure, and informal networks of assistance and collaboration (built over time) were key to the swift migration. Going forward, said Applegate, the skills and techniques we develop for online education can inform education in all modalities. Our challenges are to sustain—within the online modality—the excitement and engagement of the in-person experience and to address the inequalities in digital access.
Presenters examined the conference theme of sustaining student success from multiple perspectives, including how to teach for student success; deliver clinical experiences, labs, and music courses online; and conduct alternative assessment. Collaboration was a recurring thread. Presenters examined how collaboration builds equity, access, and success online. Sessions on collaboration strategies for student success, like using community partners as co-educators, showed how the online format can augment and enlarge community.
How IU Online attracts and retains students was addressed by sessions on marketing and recruitment, orientation, and student support and services. A panel of students discussed motivations for choosing online learning, the services that mattered most, the factors that transform an online class from good to great, and ideas for improving online learning. The panel addressed the myriad ways the online format deepened their engagement with the course material, their professors, and their fellow students.
Video recordings of all keynotes and sessions are available in Expand. Presentation slides will soon be posted. Your hosts, the Office of Online Education, the Office of Collaborative Academic Programs, and eLearning Design and Services thank all presenters and staff for their part in creating a highly successful conference. They also welcome your feedback.