What is the Online Learning Consortium?

An interest in online education may lead you to want to learn more about the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). Founded in 1992 under its original name the Sloan Consortium, the OLC is a non-profit organization that offers advice and professional development resources and opportunities to its many member institutions around the world. Both schools and companies are part of the OLC, which recently changed its name to reflect its overall commitment to helping people access quality online education in a variety of places and settings.

Benefits of Joining the OLC

Joining the OLC provides members with access to their professional development resources and opportunities to network and collaborate with other professionals involved in online learning. Different levels of membership provide you with varying levels of access. Their free community membership gives you a chance to sample what they have to offer, including free access to their online journal. The professional and institutional level memberships, which involve fees, provide even deeper access to their opportunities and resources as well as discounts to some of their many conferences.

The resources and opportunities of OLC membership include access to their books, blogs, and other forms of research about online education. Members can also access proceedings of their conferences and take part in webinars and conference workshops. For those who are working to create or enhance online learning programs at colleges and universities, institutional membership offers them the services of consultants who can help them assess and address their program needs.

OLC Conferences and Publications

The Online Learning Consortium offers various conference and workshop opportunities at the international and regional levels. These conferences address topics such as blended learning and emerging technologies. Their annual conference has keynote speakers, programs, exhibitions and workshops to help online educators stay abreast of trends in the field of eLearning. The conference’s “technology test kitchen” is an interactive, open lab designed for participants to explore new technology that can help them be better online educators, with experts providing demonstrations to help them learn.

In addition to conferences, the OLC offers educators the opportunities to take classes and get an online teaching certificate or advanced certificate. They also produce several publications for online educators, including their journal called Online Learning, which is an online research publication for members. They also produce annual reports that track statistics about online learning in U.S. higher education. Their blog, called OLC Insights, is available for members to read but also to contribute to. They have also published a series of books on online education.

With over twenty-eight percent of American students now taking at least one online course in their learning career, online education seems to be here to stay. However, partly because online education is still relatively new, faculty acceptance of it is not always high, and there are many learning curves for both students and educators as they navigate this new teaching and learning method together. Educators involved in this field need to rely on quality scholarship and good professional networking, which is what the Online Learning Consortium seeks to provide.