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Interested in dining options on Tuesday evening? Check out our Dine Around choices.

Make your travel plans to stay Wednesday afternoon for our expert-led Deep Dive sessions or post-conference workshops: 


Test Kitchen

BYOD to learn, explore, and share knowledge within this lab environment

Jane Bozarth to Deliver Keynote Address on Social Media for Learning

Ryan Baker to Deliver Plenary Address on Educational Data Mining


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Save the Dates

22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Deep Dive Sessions

Deep dive sessions offer attendees the opportunity to meet with an expert in a given discipline in order to collaborate on solutions to common problems. The goal of deep dive sessions is to "take the immediacy of the unconference," and lend structure and expertise to topics that are on the minds of #blend15 attendees. Individuals of all skill levels are encouraged to participate.

The deep dive sessions at #blend15 will take place on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 from 1:15 PM to approximately 3:30 PM. The schedule for the sessions is:


 Room     Dive Masters
1:15 PM 

Teaching and Learning Effectiveness

In recent years, adaptive learning, technology-enhanced classroom spaces, open courseware, and more have changed the way the field of higher education views teaching and learning effectiveness. This deep dive, facilitated by Meg Benke and Tanya Joosten, follows up on Benke’s workshop and will facilitate a discussion that explores the impact that new technologies and pedagogies have had on blended teaching and learning.

 Plaza Ballroom D Meg Benke
Tanya Joosten
1:15 PM 

Models and Design

In the last decades, the power of data mining and analytics has transformed practice in field after field. In this deep dive session, Ryan Baker will follow up his plenary session by facilitating a discussion focusing on the issues and opportunities that data mining and analytics have introduced in the development of research models and design.

 Plaza Ballroom E Ryan Baker
2:30 PM 

Faculty Development and Student Support

In this session, Kelvin Thompson will facilitate a case-based discussion focused on faculty development, and ways that institutions and practitioners can work toward consistency, success, and enhanced faculty understanding of the blended modality.

 Plaza Ballroom D Kelvin Thompson
2:30 PM 

Institutional Leadership and Strategy

Leadership is a term often used to describe those running an organization, an office or a department. However, we believe that leadership is a verb, an action and a skill. In this deep dive session, Mary Niemiec and Liz Ciabocchi will explore more deeply the most pressing topics from their panel on leadership.

 Plaza Ballroom E Liz Ciabocchi
Mary Niemiec
3:45 - 5:00 PM Informal gathering for those interested    





Attendees can choose between two topics at 1:15, and at 2:30. Each Deep Dive session will last one hour.


Dive Masters


Meg Benke

Meg Benke serves as Professor, Empire State College

Dr. Benke has been a leader in online learning for 25 years. Prior to her current appointment, Benke held the position of Acting President and Provost of Empire State College. of As executive officer, Benke is responsible for more than 35 locations throughout the state, eight international locations, 20,000 students, 63,000 alumni, more than 1,700 employees and an annual all-funds budget of $90 million. Prior to her current appointment, Benke was provost and vice president for academic affairs, where she oversaw the academic enterprise of the college. Benke first joined the college in 1991 and has advanced her leadership roles by focusing on collegewide programs and initiatives such as prior-learning assessment, online education and blended-learning programs.

During her tenure as dean, she worked to build the college’s Center for Distance Learning into the largest provider of online courses within the 64-campus SUNY system and one of the nation’s foremost and innovative systems for online learning and education.

Benke has taught in the areas of human systems and behavior, performance measurement, learning organizations, organizational change and training and adult education in both the graduate and undergraduate programs of the college.

She is past president of the board of directors for the Sloan Consortium and was honored by the board in October 2010 by being named to its inaugural class of Sloan-C Fellows for her distinguished service and leadership in the field of online education. In 2007, she was recognized with the Most Outstanding Achievement in Online Learning by an Individual.

Benke was elected a commissioner of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and serves on the Blue Ribbon National Commission on Regulation of Postsecondary Education, which was formed by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

Benke co-authored the chapter, "SUNY Empire State College: A Game Changer in Open Education," for the book “Game Changers: Education and Information Technologies,” published by EDUCAUSE, and is the co-author of a book on leadership in distance learning published this fall. In addition to Benke’s recognition by Sloan-C, her other awards include Outstanding Administrator from Ohio University and Outstanding New Professional by the Ohio College Personnel Association.

Benke holds a Ph.D. in student personnel from Ohio University and a Bachelor of Science in business from Youngstown State University. Benke serves on the board of directors for the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York.

Tanya Joosten

Tanya Joosten is the Director of eLearning Research and Development at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) where almost 3000 instructors (faculty, academic staff, and TA's) are supported in their use of digital technologies to facilitate teaching and learning. UWM offers over 40 online and blended degree programs to its app. 30,000 students.
Tanya is active in blended and online learning where she has taught online and blended classes for over a decade, co-chairs the UWM Online Program Council (OPC), is the campus liaison for online and blended programming, is a mentor for the OLC certificate in online teaching, and was the 2013 chair of the OLC  Blended conference (#blend13) in Milwaukee (http:/onlinelearningconsortium.org/blended).

Ryan Baker

Ryan Baker is Associate Professor of Cognitive Studies at Teachers College, Columbia University. He earned his Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Baker is currently serving as the founding president of the International Educational Data Mining Society, and as associate editor of the Journal of Educational Data Mining. He has taught the largest MOOC thus far on educational data mining, with over 50,000 students enrolled, and has written an online textbook based on the course,
Big Data and Education. Dr. Baker also served as the first technical director of the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center DataShop, the largest public repository for data on the interaction between learners and educational software. His research combines educational data mining and quantitative field observation methods to better understand how students respond to educational software, and how these responses impact their learning and long-term outcomes. He studies these issues within intelligent tutors, simulations, multi-user virtual environments, and educational games.

Kelvin Thompson

Kelvin Thompson serves as an associate director for the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) Center for Distributed Learning (http://cdl.ucf.edu) with a faculty appointment as a graduate faculty scholar in UCF’s College of Education & Human Performance, and he has collaborated on the design of hundreds of online and blended courses over the past sixteen years. Dr. Thompson oversees CDL’s strategic initiatives, including accessibility activities, and he developed the BlendKit Course open courseware (http://bit.ly/blendkit) as part of UCF’s Blended Learning Toolkit. His personal research interests center around how interaction affects learner engagement, and information on his Online Course Criticism qualitative evaluation model for facilitating the scholarship of teaching and learning in online and blended environments is available online (http://onlinecoursecriticism.com). Kelvin holds an EdD in curriculum and instruction and an MA in instructional systems technology from UCF and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from The Florida State University.

Liz CiabocchiElizabeth (Liz) Ciabocchi currently serves as Vice Provost for Digital Learning at St. John’s University in Queens, NY. From 2002-2014, Liz served in the Office of Academic Affairs at Long Island University, most recently as Associate Vice President for Online Learning (2013-2014). She also served as Academic Dean, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, New York Campus (2001-2002), and as a faculty member and administrator at the New York College for Health Professions in Syosset, N.Y. (1993-2001). Liz holds an Ed.D. in Higher & Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, a D.C. from New York Chiropractic College, and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Scranton. She also holds an Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Teaching Certificate (Administrative Track) and completed the OLC Institute for Engaged Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) in 2010. In her current role at St. John’s University, Liz leads the Office of the Provost’s academic initiatives in the development of digital learning strategies and programs of study offered in fully online and blended formats. In addition, she provides leadership in the use of technology associated with on-campus instruction; oversees the Office of Online Learning & Services; co-chairs the University Assessment Committee, and serves as a member of the Middle States Steering Committee. Liz is active in a number of professional organizations focused on higher education, and frequently presents at professional conferences on her research interests, including blended/online program development, assessment of blended/online learning, institutional leadership, and women’s leadership.
Mary Niemiec

Mary Niemiec is the Associate Vice President for Distance Education for the University of Nebraska. She is also Director of University of Nebraska Online Worldwide – the University‐wide online education initiative collectively offering more than 100 online programs from four campuses – University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Omaha and University of Nebraska Medical Campus.

In her role at the University of Nebraska, Ms. Niemiec is responsible for directing the distance education strategy for the system, creating opportunities for collaboration among the faculty and staff across the University and, promoting and supporting the online academic programs offered by the NU campuses. She works with University and campus leadership to evaluate and recommend policies (including tuition) and practices affecting students who study at a distance.

Ms. Niemiec has worked in higher education for more than 20 years, primarily in the area of outreach, online and blended learning. She has received several recognitions including the University of Illinois at Chicago Model Administrator/Alumnus Award by The American Society of Public Administration, Greater Chicago Chapter. She was also honored as an OLC (formerly Sloan-C) Fellow for her leadership in blended learning.
Ms. Niemiec has served in a variety of leadership and volunteer roles with several professional organizations and was conference chair for the Online Learning Consortium (formerly the Sloan Consortium) Blended Learning Workshop and Conference for eight years. She is a member of the board of directors for the University Professional Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) and a member of the advisory board for the Center of Online Leadership and Strategy.