How One Educator Attended a Conference … while in labor!

Last October, Ali Olson-Pacheco, an Instructional Technologist and Designer at Ventura College, received the weekly email communications counting down the days to Can•Innovate. Ali was excited about Can•Innovate, which is an annual free, online conference for Canvas users in the California Community College system coordinated by @ONE, the professional development team for CVC-OEI. Ali was excited about the idea of attending Can•Innovate with her colleagues in the Ventura College viewing room; however, she had one commitment that was a bit more important. Ali was pregnant and Can•Innovate was the same day as her due date.

Ali and her daughter almost one year later.

“I had serious FOMO. I really wanted to be there but also knew it was unlikely that I would be able to,” Ali shared. As the big day got closer, she registered for a few sessions thinking if she did go into labor, viewing the sessions from her laptop in the comfort of her home would be a good way to distract her from the stages of early labor. Although she wouldn’t be in person with her peers, she would still be able to be part of the event. Well, it happened. When Can•Innovate started, so did Ali’s labor. She stuck with her plan and attended sessions during the day before she went to the hospital. Ali recalled one session she attended in which John Lacivita, one of the speakers of the Namecoach session, presented from his newborn’s nursery. She shared, “I enjoyed learning about Namecoach, which my college had just implemented, and it was also nice to attend a conference and see the human side of a presenter like that.”

As the day progressed, so did Ali’s labor and she went to the hospital before the conference ended. Her healthy daughter was born the next afternoon at 2pm. While Ali was on leave from her role at Ventura, she watched several of the conference archives. “I wasn’t required to watch the recordings. I was just really interested in the topics and wanted to learn about them. It was nice to come back from maternity leave with some new ideas inspired by Can•Innovate,” she shared.

Equitable Professional Development

Professional development is key to spreading effective practices and inspiring educators to make changes in how they teach. But relatively few educators possess the resources to travel to conferences. Ali’s story highlights the importance of providing untethered professional development opportunities for faculty and staff that remove time and place as barriers. Last year, more than 1,100 people attended Can•Innovate — from college campuses, family rooms, the beach, coffee shops, and beyond. And the archives have been viewed 2,000 times in the ten months following the 2018 event.

Get Ready for Can•Innovate 2019

We hope Ali’s story inspires you as much as it has inspired us. We also hope it gets you excited to attend Can•Innovate this year on Friday, October 25, 2019. FREE registration is now open! And there’s still time to host a viewing room on your campus. 

Posted in Uncategorized.

Michelle (@brocansky) is Faculty Mentor, Online Teaching & Learning for @ONE and CVC-OEI and author of Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies. Michelle began teaching in the CCC system in 1999, has been teaching online since 2003, and has been an online educational developer since 2009. She also teaches the History of Photography online for Mt. San Jacinto College. Learn more about Michelle at or connect with her on Twitter @brocansky.

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