October 17, 2015
I’ll confess my thoughts previously on being a remote conference attender resembled my thoughts on eating reduced-calorie diet food. Though the format wants to convince me otherwise…I can’t help but feel I’m missing out on basically all the good stuff and rather than satisfy, I just end up craving the real thing even more. Watching an often tech issue riddled live stream just makes me envious of all the people who are actually there and…makes me feel even more isolated.
I’m very happy to say that after day one of dLRN…I’m becoming a believer in the remote. There’s nothing diet about my experience thus far, indeed between the excellent live stream, abundant Virtual Connect sessions I’ve been fortunate to pop in and out of, and a robust Twitter feed it has been much the opposite—a feast of new ideas and even more, new connections.
Though I know there’s powerful magic in the transporting experience of “going to” a conference and getting jazzed about new ideas, I am learning there’s also much to be said for the somewhat subtle magic that occurs when a conference essentially comes to you. Its presence—like that of an out of town visitor—causes you to see your daily life with new eyes.
In the former “going to” paradigm, ideas spark thoughts, thoughts spark speculations, speculations spark reflections, and these reflections may or may not bleed over into my daily post conference life. In the latter “welcoming in” paradigm, the embedded context means ideas spark and directly ignite action. Part of me feels the immediacy is thrilling and the other part of me feels mildly schizophrenic, as I’m simultaneously assimilating two narratives.
The dLRN day one morning discussions of student agency were followed by an afternoon spent with actual students. An afternoon spent actually being an adjunct followed morning discussions of adjunct and casual labor policy. Engaging heady conference ideas while simultaneously living within the messy context of an average Friday created a beautiful (albeit somewhat inconvenient) weaving of experiences.
It will be interesting to see how the dLRN post-conference process unfolds for me. Have the ideas wound themselves deeper into me because I’ve encountered them in the context of my daily life rather than in a place far away? Or are the ideas more transient because I’ve engaged with them between dog walks and cooking—as background to running and doing laundry? How does the experience of physically leaving a place compare to the experience of closing a browser window and unfollowing a hashtag? How can the tension I’m experiencing help me empathize with my online students who are essentially doing something similar in the courses I facilitate?
But…those are all questions for later as day two is fast approaching. For now I am quite certain (and quite thankful) that in the right hands and with the right care…being a remote conference attender really can be an epic feast.