By: Momoka Keicho, TechChange 2021 Summer Fellow
I have had an amazing time spending this summer learning and growing with TechChange and their Education Team as a Summer Fellow. It has been such a blast, and the Education Team really made us fellows feel welcome and a part of their team throughout the entire summer. For example, one of the great things that the Ed Team did for us fellows was to host casual lunches throughout the summer to connect with one another. These were such great opportunities to chat with other members of the Ed Team and make connections beyond the projects we were working on together.
In one of these lunches about halfway through the summer, one of the icebreaker questions that came up in the conversation was, “What career advice would you give to someone who was just starting out?” As a recent grad, I was eager to hear what everyone had to say. As everyone shared their opinions, I realized that all of the advice — including my own — had revolved around one central theme: be adventurous and try as many new things as possible.
Up until this point in my fellowship, I had been devoting most of my time to collecting and analyzing data for my fellowship research project on TechChange’s blended courses. I was fascinated by the insights I was discovering about blended learning, but I definitely was feeling curious about other ongoing course development projects at TechChange. I just didn’t know how I could start becoming more involved in work beyond my research.
Listening to everyone talk about the importance of putting yourself out there in new situations, though, really reminded me of the mentality that drove me to pursue this fellowship at TechChange in the first place. I came into this fellowship as someone who had experience working in the classroom, but I ended up choosing TechChange because I wanted to explore edtech as a field within education that I had not yet experienced. This entire world was new to me, but I wanted to work directly with the ongoing projects and the Ed Team members, learn all about their online platform, get my hands dirty with my research project, and develop new skills in instructional design. I knew that the only way to see if something is a good fit for me was to try!
I felt reinspired to take the advice that everyone had offered and embrace the mentality that I came into the fellowship with. I started actively reaching out to other members of TechChange to learn more about their projects, and I quickly realized that TechChange was the perfect place to learn with the abundance of opportunities provided. Anytime I reached out to any team member, they were always more than happy to help me explore something new — whether that be letting me sit in on meetings with a client, agreeing to chat with me about their experience on past projects, walking me through their advice on qualitative research methodologies, or allowing me to support ongoing projects.
And all of this effort of putting myself out there definitely paid off. The interviews I conducted with TechChange’s account managers heavily informed my final report and presentation, and my research would not have been as comprehensive if I had not reached out to them. I learned how to use Dedoose, a qualitative data analysis software that I had never used before, allowing my analysis to encompass multiple types of data. I had the opportunity to help brainstorm and develop different ideation workshop activities to inform the development of one project, and I applied what I had learned about instructional design by revising the quality of another project. If there was something I wanted to do at TechChange, there was a way for me to be involved, as long as I was willing to take the first step to explore.
I’m coming out of this fellowship having learned so much about instructional design and course development through my research project on TechChange’s blended courses, but my biggest takeaway has definitely been a newfound confidence to try new things. Even if something seems intimidating at first, like it may not be the best fit, or as if it is drastically different from what I’ve done in the past, I think my experience at TechChange has taught me to embrace that uncertainty and run with it. Overall, I am so grateful to the TechChange team for continuing to support me throughout the entire summer and for all the wonderful connections I made. I’m so excited to take this mentality to dive into my next new thing and continue learning in the future.