Volume 1, Issue 5

Winter 2009

  From a Distance...

Online Newsletter for Arkansas Distance Learning



Conference Review: Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning AND MoodleMoot
by Karen Liebhaber

The Sloan-C Foundation has presented the Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning for 15th years. For at least the past 8, the Sloan-C conference has been held in Orlando, FL; this year at the Caribe Royale. You've heard of a wedding tour--an extended amount of time on which a newlywed couple tours an area for their honeymoon. Well, apparently, I've been on the conference tour; I managed to fit Sloan-C and the concurrent MoodleMoot into my October, and I am glad I did. The conference was a great one. MoodleMoot was pretty good, too.

Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL

Let me first say that the Sloan-C conference was huge. Over two days, Sloan-C held more than 200 sessions. And that does not even count MoodleMoot's. Conference tracks included Learning Effectiveness, Student Services and Learner Support, Technology and Emerging Learning Environments, Faculty Development & Support, Professional Development and Workforce Training, and Leadership, Values and Society. Overall, the conference is geared more toward higher education although I did hear mention of K12 many times, especially at MoodleMoot. Telemedicine was brought up a bit, too.

The conference hotel was impressive: it had waterfall and 75-foot water slide, I think 5 restaurants, and was huge. And pink--no, not that kind of pink, a mildly tasteful stucco kind of pink. I arrived a day early with my husband, 2 preschool-age children, and mother-in-law (okay, stop laughing). It took me almost 24 hours to figure out that the hotel complex--and I mean complex: it had 3 towers not counting the main multilevel building--had a conference center in the back. I walked the length of the conference center, once I found it, several times and it's longer than Pocahontas' downtown area.

I think I was most pleased to see that in many sessions, distance education was discussed academically. This may not seem like much to you, but at my institution, I am so busy defending distance education and explaining what it can do for students, faculty, and the college that entering a world where distance ed is not only accepted but is taken seriously is exciting. I was also pleased by the number of calls for papers and research. Sessions on practical application were also abundant.

The usual were present: discussion roundtables, expert panels, and a large poster session. The speakers were impressive, too. Stephen Laster, Chief Information Officer at Harvard Business School, was the closing speaker. His presentation on blended learning alleviated my concern at my college's lack of a true online degree.

I haven't said much about MoodleMoot because honestly, even though my college is moving to Moodle, the conference was pretty small. However, the one session I did attend was excellent. The COO of RemoteLearner.net was the presenter. It's obvious why he's the COO.

Would I recommend this conference? Definitely--with one caveat: take someone else with you. The conference is so big that it's tough to attend many sessions alone.

Oh, and my husband said to tell you that the waterfall, waterslide, and cabana were great!

About the Author


Karen Powers LiebahberKaren Powers Liebhaber is the Distance Education Coordinator, Blackboard and Moodle System Administrator, and an instructor of English and literature at Black River Technical College.  She earned a Master of Arts in English from Arkansas State University.  She lives in Pocahontas with her husband and two children.

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