#Domains17 has been over for about a week now, and I’m only now getting to a place where I feel like I can write about it. There are already a few really good reflection posts about the event (touching on metaphors, belonging, professional development, #notaconference, & newness, to name a few) and I’m really enjoying reading them all. Though I can hardly take credit for the brilliant conversations and displays for forward-thinking projects that folks brought to the table last week, I do like to think that my work over the last few months was able to help make this possible. And for that, I am honored and grateful.Due to the nature of where I’d like to take this post, there was another reason that I wanted to push back publication: feedback entries. At the end of the conference, (and sort of on a whim, mind you) we decided to put together a quick survey in hopes for some brutally honest feedback. In writing this, I’m also over here giggling as I’m reminded of Sundi‘s comment to me at the end of day two: in a nutshell, everything rocked except for giving out the feedback form. Haha! (I secretly agree with you, Sundi.) As obnoxious as feedback forms may be, I believe that at least providing the platform to be honest is the crucial first step to improving.But before I share a few of my favorite responses, I wanted to explain briefly how I’d like to angle this post. Since my experience at the conference was mostly behind-the-scenes, I feel like it would be silly for me to try and top what’s already been said about Martha’s brilliant keynote, for example, or the thought provoking conversations that were born from the Domains Fair or Concurrent Sessions. Instead, I’d like to talk more about the behind-the-scenes complaints & critiques– both my own and the ones I received over the two-day event. And in the spirit of improving, whether for a “volume two” or just to better ourselves as human beings, talking honestly and openly about what didn’t work is important.
Just going to jump straight in here. At the risk of getting rant-like, I believe ‘the -isms’ deserve a continuing, ongoing conversation, always. More specifically, I want to speak to racism, sexism, and ageism in the Ed-Tech field. This is not in reference solely to the Domains 17 event, but I did feel susceptible to it in OKC, and I know others felt it as well. I feel very proud of how we set the tone for Domains 17, and admire Adam’s opening words that encouraged community, friendliness, and openness. But we could have/should have done more before the conference. Secondly. As a fail-safe reminder: Under no circumstances should Respect be in correlation with age, gender, or skin color. Asking questions or making comments that highlight not the strengths, achievements, or thoughts of an individual, but their age, gender, or skin color instead is offensive and unnecessary.
Commenting on Concurrent Sessions:
Given that multiple sessions were running in parallel, it would be great if presenters wrote up a few sentences about their sessions to be included in the Agenda/Itinerary. I would certainly take a close look at those before choosing which session to join.
^This is so, so valid. I agree– I think that somewhere along the way I should have added abstracts to the website for folks to view in advance. I also believe that setting up a poster-size itinerary in front of each gallery with an itinerary specific to that space would have been super helpful. I found that a lot of folks didn’t really carry their itinerary around, but would instead come up to me and ask, “What’s in there?” as they point to a gallery. I would then shrug as I scrambled through everything I was holding to find my own folded copy of the itinerary with the insanely tiny font. (Who let me get away with that?)
Commenting on evening plans:
As a student who is not of age to drink yet, there was no incentive for me to attend at all. I felt that was a large barrier to the socializing for underage students.
^Again, this is valid. Here we are saying, bring your students! Bring all the students! and then making the base activity a rooftop bar scene. One of the main reasons we chose to rent out a space as opposed to taking over someone else’s space was for that reason specifically, so that should have been communicated more thoughtfully. And while we did make sure that all were able to attend all conference events, we could have added cornhole, life-size jenga (the venue offered those options), or other things “to-do” as opposed to just hanging out, drink in hand. Would have loved to have offered a mocktail or two as well (& better local beer options).
I think there was maybe too much attention paid to getting the music up and running. I think most people would have been OK with just the DJ playing some mellow tunes and kicking back and having conversations.
^I believe that this also speaks to something larger: People like to hang out differently. So when you bring everyone together for some good ole’ fashioned forced fun, there are bound to be mixed reviews. I’m a massive introvert, so my version of “hanging out” includes room service & Westworld. Last year the Reclaim team went to a cPanel conference and the venue for their night event was so freaking cool. Yes, there were drinks, but there was also karaoke, bowling, and a ton of space to chill & chat. So maybe a future set up should look a little more extrovert AND introvert-friendly.
The Notes to Self.
+Never assume anything with any venues. No one can read minds.
+Locate all thermostats ahead of time. (*eyeroll*)
+Make a note with venue staff on which doors can and cannot be locked. (*bigger eyeroll*)
+Add a tad more light in the main gathering space.
+The unplanned chunks of time still deserve a little research.
+Carry a pen, scissors, phone charger, and hotel room key everywhere you go.
Who wants a Domains 18?