Report from OLC Accelerate 2016 Orlando

This event was very big, and in my opinion attempted to cram too much into too little time. The mobile schedule was difficult to navigate and had few options for searching. There were too many options to choose from and it was hard to pinpoint the most relevant sessions for my needs. They did offer some themed tracks, but even those had multiple concurrent sessions that competed with one another. Of course, I’m accustomed to attending bloated conferences (ALA, ACRL, ASEE, etc. are all huge) but those tend to have clearly defined tracks that meet my needs with little or no overlap. After several hours trying to navigate the schedule, I gave up and decided to spend the majority of my time in the exhibits hall and the Technology Test Kitchen.

This turned out to be a pretty good decision. OLC had several contests that required visiting the exhibitors, so I decided to play the games and visit as many exhibitors as possible. This allowed me to meet a lot of people and learn about a lot of products and services that I was unfamiliar with. I’m normally too shy and weary of vendor sales pitches and I usually avoid visiting their booths. I guess the prize incentives were enough to break me out of my shell. Unfortunately, I didn’t win any of the contests, and my email spam blossomed exponentially as a result.

The Technology Test Kitchen was my favorite part of the conference. It was interactive and networky and served as a refreshing alternative to the usual PowerPoint lecture model of conference sessions. The Iron Chef Battles were fun and exciting… I’ll write more about that in a later post.

I attended two sessions about Competency Based Education. One was a vendor sessions and I didn’t get much out of it, obviously being a pitch for a product. Another was led by a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor and outlined the CBE model that has shown some promise there.

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