Tuesday, July 8, 2008

NECC - It's Not About the Technology. It's About the People.

The National Education Computing Conference (NECC) is finally over. The excitement had been building for months. With tools and sites like Ning, Twitter, Diigo, Plurk the excitement reached a fever pitch in the last few days leading up to the big event. I was lucky enough to be there this year, but it meant digging into my own bank account to do so. It was worth it!
I've been avoiding reading others reflections until I could complete my own. After a few false starts, here it goes.

Bottom line = This was a conference that focuses on technology, but the real value is in people.

Having the opportunity to meet some "friends" face-to-face was incredible. I'm one of those who feels isolated as the one, or one of the few people who promotes true technology integration in the classroom. Reading blogs and participating in social networking via Classrom 2.0, Twitter, Ed Tech Talk, along with various other Nings, and wikis has allowed me to connect with others who are trying do the same. I've been able to share, learn, discuss, and disagree. Finally getting to be in same rooms with many of the people I've known only in an online environment was amazing. Personalities are now attached to the URLs and avatars. Discussions in hallways, session rooms, over meals, and in the Blogger's Cafe were fun, funny, challenging and inspiring. Meeting new people only added to this experience. My brain is now spinning with possibilities for further work and collaboration in the coming year.

As for sessions, they were very hit-and-miss for me. Some sessions were great and others were very poor. Frustration had to be kept in check as the number of sessions I couldn't get into grew and grew. Thanks to the efforts of people in many of those sessions, recordings were made. Thanks to the efforts of people who couldn't even attend NECC this year, links to those recording were posted and promoted. MANY thanks to all of them for allowing me to have a nice long list of sessions I still have to catch up on :^)

Many discussions at NECC and after have focused on tools vs. practical use. To me, this is a critical discussion that must continue. There is supposed to be a very real purpose for all the tools we spend so much time discussing and trying out. The tools mean nothing without a valid application. Some tools are for professional development. The more critical issue for me is whether or not they can increase student learning experience and improve learning outcomes. If I can't demonstrate how a tool provides for effective and efficient use of teacher time in increasing student learning, the effort is useless. Real examples of real classroom use is an important component that I think was under-represented in sessions. The table and poster sessions are one piece. Hopefully NECC and other conferences will encourage more people to include this direct link to student learning in regular sessions as well.
I still have so much more to review, learn and absorb that it will take me at a few more weeks to take it all in. Thanks to everyone who helped make NECC such an incredible experience for me.

Here are links to some of the recorded sessions in case you weren't there, couldn't get in, or just want to take another look. Some may have duplicate entries.

NECC Video on Demand

NECC Webcasts

School 2.0: Progressive Pedagogy and 21st Century Tools

Women of Web 2.0 live from NECC08


Paul R. Wood said...

Thanks for the post. I have been slow to post myself, too many different directions to potentially go. Maybe after reading yours I will have some focus.

Michelle said...

I felt my NECC 08 experience was incredible, but I guess in looking back... it's more about the discussions and the unplugged time than really any of the sessions. I enjoyed Ian Jukes, but felt like he was preaching to the choir. He did, however, provide some new terminology for me to take back and say the same things... maybe just more effectively now. I don't feel like some of the other sessions provided me with "tools" to take back to encourage change.
With that said, I still feel like I got more out of this NECC than any others I've attended.

Great reflection! You nailed the fact that it was all about the people, because that's what I valued most.