SUBMISSION PERIOD IS NOW OPEN. DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS IS JUNE 20, 2021
USDLA National Conference 2021 will be a virtual event and will be a great opportunity to reach a diverse and global audience – so please share your expertise!
The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) is pleased to announce the 2021 Annual Conference Call for Proposals. Proposals will be based on the conference theme, “Life in a Hybrid World – Learning How to Flex” which will be taking place virtually October 5th – 8th, 2021. We will however return next year to Music City: Nashville, Tennessee!
We welcome proposals from all: corporate, education (higher and K-12), telehealth, government, and military. In keeping with our theme and based on feedback we have received from our community about the topics they are most interested in, the following categories are intended to guide you in preparing your proposal:
Human Side of Hybrid – With so much focus on just keeping things operating, how did you help your students, faculty, staff, employees, or teams to feel connected and supported as individuals? What stories can you share about addressing the mental health challenges of the past year? How are you approaching topics such as DE&I, SEL, accessibility, instructor presence, and student engagement?
Innovative Practices and Better Outcomes – Even for the most experienced distance and digital educators, the past year called for us to be creative and re-examine our approaches. This is a great opportunity to share your recent experiences, expertise, and best practices in distance learning course design, development, distribution, and instruction for your constituency. What innovative approaches and technologies did you use to achieve better outcomes for your learners?
New Workplaces, Workforces, and Workflows – How will we prepare students, and existing and future employees, for the rapid shifts and uncertainty? What are companies doing to continue to train their employees? What partnerships are forming between workforce and educational institutions? Will there be a shift to more focus on competency models and micro credentials as people continuously upskill and employers seek new ways to identify recruits with specific skillsets?
Leading Through Change – What have we learned about leading in times of extreme uncertainty? What are some of the best practices for leading remote teams and helping staff transition from onsite to online teaching or work? This is a great opportunity to share how you have led change in your organization or institution. How are you sharing the message of the changes you have made internally or externally through your marketing and communication channels?
Are We Ready for Next Time? – As we debrief recent events, what lessons will we carry forward to help us be better prepared next time and where are we still seeing gaps? What policies, legislation, and funding opportunities are available to tackle the challenges of disparity to access to broadband, technologies, and quality education? How will issues such as cybersecurity and individual privacy shape distance education?
Envisioning the Future with Emerging Technologies – What are the new technologies that are being developed and how will they transform distance education? Will ideas and technologies like gamification, maker spaces, augmented/virtual/mixed reality, and AI reach new audiences and bring about huge change? How will advances in telehealth, the creation of smart campuses, the explosion of eSports, and other new experiences change the learning landscape? Help us start the conversations of tomorrow.
Proposal Options Available
- Concurrent sessions provide an opportunity for you to give an interactive presentation on a specific topic. Conference attendees expect sessions to provide practical advice and the sharing of experiences. The committee seeks high quality, thought-provoking and engaging sessions – not lecture format. Co-presenters are encouraged. Also, the USDLA Program Committee may select your proposal to be featured in a panel along with other like presenters. (60 minutes)
- Poster sessions allow presenters to prepare a digital artifact that describes a project, process, research study or other activity. Presenting a poster session will give you an opportunity to network with your fellow conference attendees and lead discussions around your topic of interest. (45 minutes)
- Pre-conference workshops are offered as a vehicle to get the conference started, set the stage for the conference theme, and discuss relevant issues in the field of distance learning (3-hour sessions on Tuesday, October 5, 2021 from 2-5pm ET (time subject to change.)
Preparing Your Proposal
The committee recommends that proposals be specific about what will make the presentation valuable to attendees. Any proposal that is perceived to be a “sales pitch” will not be considered. Your proposal should be focused on issues, innovative working solutions, and should address the conference theme. All presenters and co-presenters (regardless of session type) will be expected to register for the full conference.
For your information, the automated proposal system will ask you for the following, so please gather this information prior to the time of submission:
- Contact Information: the name and contact information for the lead presenter and any co-presenters
- Tracks: you will pick a track that you feel your session best supports
- Session Type: concurrent, poster, or pre-conference workshop
- Title: a succinct, but descriptive title of no more than ten words
- Abstract: 100-words (or less) – Please note: the session abstract will be used to promote your session. Make sure it accurately reflects your session, and how it will benefit attendees. This is what draws people to your presentation.
- Description: a clear summary of learning objectives, session content, and takeaways in no less than 300 words, not to exceed 1000 words. You are also encouraged to indicate which roles and constituencies would benefit most from your session as well as the types of audience participation you will use (e.g., hands-on exercise, polls, small group discussion, Q&A, etc.)
Conference participants will expect well-delivered presentations containing quality information that is of practical value to their day-to-day professional lives. Members of the USDLA Program Committee will look for clear descriptions. Considerable weight will be given to proposals that specify session learning objectives, clearly describe why the content will be valuable to attendees, and how you plan to encourage audience participation.
Specifically, reviewers will look for the following:
- Topic relevance to distance learning and the conference theme, “Life in a Hybrid World – Learning How to Flex”.
- Quality of the presentation: substance, clarity, and consistency between the title, abstract, and content within the proposal
- Measurable outcomes of the presentation
- Evidence of innovation and effective practice
- Audience breadth, engagement, and likelihood of future application
Virtual Conference Platform
The conference will use Zoom Meetings for all concurrent, poster, and workshop sessions. You will have access to all of the engagement features, including Chat, Reactions, Breakout Rooms, and Polls. You are encouraged to utilize these or other tools and techniques to create an interactive experience for participants.
Status of Proposal and Notification
Call for Proposals will be open until Sunday, June 20, 2021, 11:59pm ET. The Program Committee will review proposals and you will be contacted about the status of your submission during the week of July 19, 2021. Presenters are eligible for the Early Bird registration rate even after the close of Early Bird registration.
If you have any questions or concerns about the proposal process, please contact Valary Oleinik at firstname.lastname@example.org.