The Northwest eLearning Conference

by Ron Austin

In October 2019, I attended the NWeLearn Conference in Bend, Oregon with fellow Bellevue College Instructional Designer Bruce Wolcott. I was surprised I hadn’t heard of this particular group before attending the event. This organization has been around for over twelve years (since 2007) and is made up of many educators from a variety of schools, colleges, and universities. They host an annual conference rotating through three states: Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. They also have micro-conferences, webinars, and an eLearning journal. Two moments from the conference especially stood out for me: Todd Conaway‘s presentation and Bruce Wolcott’s co-leading a workshop.

Photograph of a mountain behind a lake and open meadow.
The 2019 NWeLearning Conference was held in Bend, Oregon

Todd Conaway from UW Bothell

Todd Conaway was one of the featured speakers for the conference. In his talk, he addressed classroom spaces–the importance of space and how it translates to the online world of space. Conaway is an Instructional Designer at The University of Washington Bothell campus. I’ve seen him speak a couple of times now, and he goes the extra mile to give memorable presentations. When he’s done speaking, I’m usually left worrying, “Hmmm…. I need to up my own speaking game!” Here is the transcript of his presentation about classroom spaces, online classroom spaces, and the idea that easier is not always better. (This concept is from another presentation of his–but he revisits it here.) It is definitely worth the ten minutes it takes to read it for yourself.

Bruce Wolcott from Bellevue College

The other highlight of the conference was Bruce Wolcott giving a presentation about virtual reality: Virtual Reality: The Time is Now! Bruce teamed up with Paula Ascher from Columbia Gorge Community College and Monica Marlo from Portland Community College. Together, they provided an overview for how they use XR at their schools and gave attendees an opportunity at a first-hand experience. There was a discussion about how to build VR and AR into course curriculum. I found it impressive to see how many people attended the workshop and how engaged they all were. It was most gratifying to see that there were three people from a community college in in Mississippi! The three faculty from Mississippi told us that they flew to Oregon to attend the conference primarily to attend the VR panel hosted by Bruce , Monica, and Paula!

The NW elearning Journal

I recommend submitting articles to NWeLearn’s publication: The Northwest eLearning Journal. The group accepts in-depth research articles (2,500-6,00 words) or shorter articles such as technology and book reviews related to eLearning (600-2,500 words).  Suggested topics focus around eLearning. View their submission criteria for additional information and topic ideas. There is plenty of time to get your article ready to publish with them since the next submission deadline is October 2020. Of course time will go by quickly, so be sure to mark your calendar and submit early.

Heress to seeing you at the next Northwest eLearning conference in Portland in 2020!


Ron Austin is the Digital Learning & Multimedia Manager at Bellevue College.

Last Updated November 20, 2019