I did notice there were a lot less questions than last year. This is either because I did such an amazing job presenting that the audience was stunned (doubtful...), or because they had already heard half of this before (perhaps likely...) or maybe because with all the bells and whistles I've added, it just came across as "too much". Frankly, I'm sure it's a bit of all three. Granted, it's tough to tell in a short session like that and perhaps some questions will trickle through in the coming days.
After my session, I was sitting with one of my co-workers and he asked "do you think what you do is accessible? Do you think people can realistically watch your presentation, walk away, and go implement it in their classrooms, or is it just too complicated? It seems difficult to me." He echoed a lot of what I've thought over the past several months. My gamification presentations rarely leave people amped up and excited. I'm usually met with a mixture of confusion, questions, and cautious optimism. It's not that I see myself as an amazing teacher or anything (I'm personally very critical of my execution and I know my class can be much much better) but the design and conceptions I introduce simply require a lot of time and effort to put into place. I remember when I first learned about Gamification, I had to spend months just thinking about it, before I could finally start to draft a plan, and even then it took a while to build all the materials. It's not something that someone can try on a whim. It's not a $1 app which may or may not work. It's powerful stuff, it covers all sorts of strong educational techniques, but it's not the most approachable. In fact, even in my second year of full-blown Gamification, there's a lot I would like to improve...but there's no one to talk to about it, it seems.
But you know, I think that's ok. I sat through around a dozen presentations this week and over half of them contained the phrase "start small", or "think one lesson" or "plan for just one class". In a conference convering what should be some of the most innovative techniques in education...we're telling people to "think small?" Seriously? So many presentations included phrases like "you could try..." or "someone might do this..." or "another option may be to..." which immediately appeared timid and conditional. Yes, we know what we could do...but should we? Why would you weaken your own pitch right out of the gate? Why do we assume people will only do something new if we hold their hand step-by-step. These aren't resistant lower-level students, these are conference-attending teachers! These are the ones paying to come hear about what new and exciting ideas are out there! We should be challenging them with big ideas and complex challenges, not telling them "think small, if you want. I mean, you could...but you don't have to. I've never done it either. I don't know anyone that has. Maybe it's something you might want to try" (an actual quote from a presentation)
I'm aware that this entry could make me sound like a snob, and that's not my intention. I'm sure I spoke in the conditional several times in my presentation, I know that my methods are far from perfect, and I know that teaching is hard enough without internal sniping. Still, after a few years in the field, I'm getting tired of watching everyone attend innovative tech conferences and present about random apps or conditional, hypothetical, potential ideas. Enough wading around in the baby pool; let's all go swim in the deep end for a while and then see how to get better from there.