I know I have already posted about the planning of GREAT17 and the highlights from throughout the day, but I feel it important to reflect on this experience now that things have calmed down.
As I sit here reflecting on my conference experience, the first thing that I notice is I have some conflicting emotions. I am relieved the conference is over because I felt like it was messing with our group’s dynamic (23 brides, remember?); I’m sad the conference is over because it makes every part of this program feel that much more finite; but I’m also not yet quite satisfied.
There is so much buildup and anticipation around this conference, after all it is the pinnacle of year 2 and our flagship project, that afterwards you’d expect this huge release of all the stress, anxiety and frustration – I’m not sure I felt that. I did feel a release of emotions, but not the kind I was expecting.
As an incredibly introverted person, the day of the conference completely wiped me out physically, mentally, and emotionally. The minute my session ended, however, I started nitpicking every little detail. Was the gallery too boring? Did the audience learn anything? Did I highlight my research enough? Did I implement all the feedback my instructors gave me? Was it fun and engaging? Could I have done more? Did I do enough?
Now when I think about this feeling, I initially thought of it as something very negative. I just did something remarkable – plan, host and present at an international education conference in a foreign country in 12 days – and I’m not satisfied. I’m not giving myself credit. Some would view that as negative because it would imply that things didn’t go well or I didn’t do a very good job; but that’s not exactly what I was feeling either.
I started to think about this feeling more and I had a strange epiphany – what if this nitpicking is not me doubting what I’ve just done, but rather me seeking to constantly improve what it is that I am doing? Maybe I am nitpicking because I wanted to craft the best educational experience for my audience, and I’m working to ensure that happens.
I once had a professor tell me, “nothing is ever finished, it’s just due” and that is something I have long lived by. I constantly go back to work that I thought was brilliant and poke a bunch of holes in it. I don’t do that because I want to see myself fail, but rather I want to see myself succeed and, as well all know, you’ll never grow if you never find anything to improve upon. I know this is a rather long introduction to a rather simple concept, but I thought it important to note. I didn’t leave my session feeling like I had conquered a giant, I didn’t leave my session jumping up and down celebrating my achievements, but I did leave my session knowing I had done the best I could in that moment and that moment would continue to lead to better moments.
Now that the conference is over, I know where I need to continue working, I can look back on the journey that got me here, and set my future course. Before presenting at this conference, I had no knowledge of augmented or virtual realities. I had heard the terms, but I couldn’t have told you (articulately) what they were or how to use them. I had played around with Google Cardboard one day in MAET year 1, but never again after that. I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to take a risk and research these unfamiliar technologies, rather than playing it safe by choosing a topic I was already familiar with – the old, pre-MAET me might have done that. This growth and willingness to take a risk is one thing I am very proud of.
After this conference, I feel like I have a solid foundation for what augmented and virtual reality is, but I’d like to continue exploring the tools and applications available for this technology and how to apply it to educational settings. I have already reached out to 3 colleagues on my staff and pitched a few ideas to them, each one has found their own uses and applications for augmented or virtual technologies. My only request, was that I could be there when they did implement these ideas so that I could see what they look like integrated into the classroom setting.
When I first conceived this plan, I thought I would get a lot of buy in from my staff because I’ve gone through this program and researched the technology, but that just hasn’t been the case. Actually, some of my colleagues don’t even know what educational technology is or means, and others think that educational technology is replacing teachers with robots and making all schools virtual – they think I’m helping get rid of their jobs. Why would any teacher, try to make teachers obsolete? I don’t know. What I do know, is that there are a lot of misconceptions about educational technology and that makes it very difficult to advocate for any kind of wholesale change.
After much consideration, what I have realized is that this type of implementation will be more of a ripple, instead of a wave. I am the rock being thrown into the pond and at first I won’t reach many – maybe one or two, but those one or two will reach another one or two and the ripple will grow from there.
The last, and probably most important thing I need to do, is continue advocating for educational technology. With all the misconceptions and misinformation out there, I need to share my knowledge and learning of all things EdTech so that others will become invested as well. Whether we like it or not, this is the direction in which the future is moving and we as educators need to make sure we are ready for it. As a soon to be master of educational technology, it is my job to lead the way for my peers. Though I am not an instructional coach or an integrationist, I am a colleague and I have the power to reach my peers that are teaching alongside me everyday.
Overall I am proud of GREAT17 and what we were able to put together, but I also know that because the conference is over, the real work begins. I don’t just need to share my work with 40 people on the campus of NUIG, I need to be the rock in the pond and start a ripple.