Conference Preview: SOLA+R From UPCEA

Here's what you need to know before you arrive in D.C. next week for a conference geared toward online learning administrators.

June 13, 2018
 
Courtesy of UPCEA

Conferences are a valuable resource for ideas, discussion, networking and even (sometimes) fun. “Inside Digital Learning” wants you to get the most out of each event. Here’s our first in a series of previews.

Be sure to leave a comment below the article detailing your goals for the conference -- you might just find someone else who shares your interests.

Event: Summit for Online Learning and Administration + Roundtable (SOLA+R)

Host: University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA)

Location: Washington Hilton, in Washington, D.C.

Dates: Monday, June 18, to Wednesday, June 20. The Monday program starts at noon and consists of an opening speech and a welcome reception. The bulk of the conference kicks off Tuesday morning.

Elevator Pitch: Now in its fifth year, SOLA+R offers administrators with titles ranging from chief innovation officer to support specialist a chance to gather for high-level discussion of leadership and strategy, according to Julie Uranis, UPCEA’s vice president of online and strategic initiatives.

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“While we love online faculty and we love stakeholders that are typically involved in online learning, those folks are well cared for in other conferences,” Uranis said.

What to Watch For: The conference offers five subject-area “tracks” that interested attendees can follow if they’re looking for a narrower focus:

The last track will be of particular interest, according to Uranis, because many people involved with online learning believe legislators don’t understand it as much as they should. Standout speakers in that block will be Diane Auer Jones, assistant secretary for postsecondary education, and Scott Cheney, executive director of Credential Engine.

What Stands Out: Uranis expects this conference will be more conversation driven and less lecture oriented than the average. “Hopefully you won’t find folks reading off the PowerPoint slides,” she said.

Planners also tried to recruit speakers from beyond the obvious, which led to solo sessions from brain scientist Nancy Harhut and social psychology professor Adam Alter.

What’s New This Year: The number of concurrent sessions has jumped from 24 to 36, Uranis said.

Another expanded feature takes a cue from the “flipped classroom” model: almost every session’s online page includes “pre-reading” material designed to free up more time for panelists to engage in substantive dialogue with the audience.

Who’s Going: More than 400 people from 160 institutions have registered, Uranis said.

Tip: “Bring lots of business cards,” Uranis said. “It’s all about making connections.”

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