The Unofficial Guide to iNACOL’s 2015 Blended and Online Learning Symposium


Amanda Cunningham
Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 9:30am

Every year, iNACOL holds a symposium for experts, practitioners, educators, policymakers, and researchers to share information, research, and best practices in K–12 online, blended, and competency-based learning. This year, the symposium will take place on November 8–11 in Orlando, Florida. It’s where attendees can gain access to expertise through information sharing and more than 200 in-depth learning sessions. Don’t forget about the extraordinary networking available for this once-a-year opportunity.

If you are not registered yet, register soon! If you are already planning to attend, Fuel Education has put together an unofficial guide of the five things you should do before and during the conference.

  1. Map out and plan your day.

Be prepared with a list of sessions that you would like to attend during the conference so that you can maximize your time effectively. To find the conference agenda, click here. Beyond the basic agenda times, you can take a look at the session times and descriptions for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. These three days are jam-packed with tons of fantastic options with industry thought leaders, so make sure you know what you want to learn more about.

Having a specific goal for attending the conference is key. If your goal is to find information, answers, and guides to specific themes or questions, then make sure you build your schedule around that goal. Likewise, if you are there to network, make sure you know the list of speakers and attendees with whom you would like to connect. Also, be sure you take a look at the exhibitors to learn more about new products and services that could solve problems your school or district is facing. 

Session Highlights:

  1. Promising Practices in Online and Blended Learning: Credit Recovery, Monday, November 9, 3:50 PM–4:50 PM. Leaders from Chicago Public Schools, Putnam County Schools, Spokane Public Schools, and others will discuss their programs, which are highlighted in the recent iNACOL Promising Practices paper on credit recovery.
  2. 1-2-3-4 New Ways to Examine Blended learning Outcomes, Tuesday, November 10, 10 AM–11 AM. This session features Julie Evans from Project Tomorrow and Heather Hiebsch from hybrid school PSD Global Academy,  one of the highest ranking schools in Colorado.
  3. Blended Learning Solutions to Engage English Language Learners and Close the Achievement Gap, Tuesday, November 10, 2:15 PM–3:15 PM. Hartford Public Schools will highlight a blended learning (BL) pilot program for English language learners (ELL). Meet experts in ELL instruction, digital education, educators, and administrators who are implementing BL ELL programs.
  4. Highlights of Successful Blended Learning Programs in District Schools, Wednesday, November 11, 10 AM–11 AM. This session features Heather Hiebsch from hybrid school PSD Global Academy, one of the highest ranking schools in Colorado.

  1. Download the 2015 Symposium mobile app.

iNACOL provides a free app you can use to connect with fellow attendees through social networking in order to plan out your sessions, and to gain access to presentations and other materials from the presenters, along with video and audio recordings of selected sessions. You can also integrate the app with your other social media platforms. Make sure to use #inacol15 when you tweet!

Click here to download the app. See the screenshot below for a preview of the app on the iOS platform.

  1. Enter for a chance to win an Apple iWatch.

Make sure you stop by booth #227 to watch Fuel Education’s demos for PEAK and LearnBop. Just for stopping by, you will have the opportunity to enter for a chance to win an Apple iWatch. Plus, if you are looking for a solution to automate student engagement and monitor your online and blended programs, or for a math tutoring solution, you will find it here.

Stop by to enter to win during one or both demos:

Monday, Nov 9 at 3:15 PM: Automate Student Engagement

Tuesday, Nov 10 at 3:30 PM: Automated Math Tutoring


  1. Attend a pre-conference workshop.

Although not included in the conference package, there are numerous highly interactive and focused full-day, morning, and afternoon workshops on Sunday, November 8, from 8 AM–4 PM (ET). In these workshops, you can delve deeper into a topic and become hands-on in answering any and all questions that you may have about that topic.

Here’s an example of a pre-conference workshop definitely worth attending:

Sunday November 8 Morning Workshops | 8 AM – 11 AM (ET)

How to Start an Online Learning Program
Trina Angelone, Virtual Schools of Excellence
David Edwards, Ignite Learning Partners
Mary Fluharty, Fuel Education
Adam Garry, Dell Education

Bridging the gap between the idea of creating an online learning program and actually launching one is an exciting and challenging journey. Facilitated by a panel of professionals who have successfully launched online programs from a variety of perspectives (state-wide programs, district-based, school-based, public, private, and charter), this workshop will provide participants with ideas on how to address some of the critical questions you will encounter as you seek to build a high-quality online learning program.

To find a list of the entire workshop schedule, click here.

  1. Listen to keynote speeches and network with the speakers.

Make sure you attend keynote speeches by education thought leaders who will address how to empower youth through online, blended, and competency-based learning. With speakers like Craig Kielburger, co-founder of Free the Children and Me to We and We Day, and Eduardo Briceño, co-founder and CEO of Mindset Works, you can gain insights into understanding how to drive motivation, growth, and performance in your students.



Disney’s Boardwalk is just a short walk from the conference hotel. Take advantage of beautiful weather to take a stroll down the boardwalk for unique dining, shops, and nightlife. Below is a map from the Dolphin Hotel, conference location, to various Disney attractions. Don’t forget to check it out!


Don't forget to stop by booth #227 and we hope to see you there!


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