Goods, Bads, and Bests from NECC Week

NECC 2008 was the best conference I’ve ever been to.  Mostly, because it was so dynamic.  Usually I judge a conference only on the quality of the sessions but this one was so much more than lectures.  I wanted to take a couple minutes and reflect on the Goods, Bads, and Bests from NECC Week (EBC, NECC, and NECC Unplugged).

Easily, the best part of EBC and NECC2008 was meeting people from my personal learning networks.

The 2nd best part was participating at NECC Unplugged.  I didn’t get to schedule a session there because my travel plans were made so close to the conference that I had no idea if I would even be attending past Monday afternoon until a couple days prior.  So when I got to sit-in and contribute to an impromptu roundtable conversation with Steve Hargadon, Darren Draper, Robin Ellis, Karl Fisch, and several others from my PLN, I was excited.  We discussed how EBC could be better next year along with social networking in education.  I had been a passive observer at the Blogger’s Cafe until that point, and it feels so much better to contribute to the community.

The third, and last, best part is a little of a selfish one.  I hosted a poster session called Using Web 2.0 to Motivate Student Creativity which focused on Web 2.0 for Beginners and it went really well.  A lot of people stopped to watch our (OCHS) kids talk about their experiences using these tools.  I met hundreds of people and loved talking to educators who really wanted to make their children’s experiences at school more relevant.

The Goods.  The best sessions I sat in were all at EBC.  They were discussions yet, only one of the sessions that I attended at NECC was even close, mostly because they hosted a backchannel chat (pw:necc) through Chatzy. David Warlick and Alan November didn’t dissapoint but Social Networking in Education was the livliest and most passionate session that I attended outside of EBC.

The Bads.  By far the worst part about NECC Week was the lack of wireless connectivity.  In over half the rooms I was in I had nothing, nada, zilch for connection.  Kristen Hokanson said it best to an IT guy trying to solve the problem at EBC once he declared they had no idea so many people would have laptops, “but this is an edtech conference.”  They didn’t have enough access points and in the theater where the spotlight sessions were at, there was nothing.

Those view-blocking Pearson cameras at EBC were annoying, but I wasn’t nearly as mad as others about them recording and profitting from our words.  Spreading information…..good.

The other bad part, which I have encountered at almost every conference I’ve attended, was their take on Online Learning.  When I went to NECC in Philadelphia a few years back, I don’t remember any online sessions so was happy to at least see that strand in almost every concurrent session.  However, most of the sessions weren’t worth attending, the NACOL booth didn’t even have someone sitting at it, and the one session I did attend was horrible.  It was three instructional designers from the University of Houston who lectured for 45 minutes straight about 3 basic lessons you could teach online.  It was like they just discovered e-learning and somehow convinced ISTE to accept their proposal.  I wish they would screen for people who are really doing something with online learning and hybrid schools, its a future of education.

flickr user: kjarrett

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  1. #1 by Frank's Blog - 21CT on July 3, 2008 - 9:22 PM

    Thanks Cory .. I am so thankful for all the sharing in this edublogger community. Because of people like you, people like me in other countries get to participate too.

    Thanks, Frank

  2. #2 by Scott S. Floyd on July 3, 2008 - 9:36 PM


    Thanks for your reflections. Two things.

    One – Pearson is the burr in the side of every educator in Texas. Too much to share here, but I did go into length during our Wednesday night impromptu UStream with Dean Shareski, Paul Wood, Christine Voight, and Mike Gras (and about 12 others in the chat room including David Jakes, John Pederson, and Chris Lehman). You can find the video (actually looks like UStream turned it into two for some reason) here: I discussed it rather passionately near the end of the evening. There is a lot more valuable conversation offered by the others in the group in that stream, but the Pearson thing boils down to them owning way too much of Texas government and being the decision makers in our curriculum and equipment without a say from us. Backwards, I know. But Texas politics can be messy sometimes.

    Two – Online learning IS the future (and present) of education. We have been part of a rural consortium founded to provide a virtual high school for many years now. We are way ahead of Texas in this area. We service several hundred students each year. Currently, we are developing a Final Cut Studio course that allows students to utilize our certified instructor and earn their own certificate even though there is no program in their district. Apple says no one else is even trying something like it, so we are excited about how it will turn out.

    We switched from Microsoft Class Server to Moodle a few years back. Best thing yet. If there are any questions we can answer or if you just want to begin a dialogue about online courses, shoot me an email. We would love the opportunity.

  3. #3 by mstina on July 4, 2008 - 3:09 PM

    Cory-wish we could have met F2F. I was there. This was my 3rd NECC, my first was in Philadelphia. However, this was my first EBC, and my first experience inside the Blogger’s Cafe. What made it different for me, too, this year (as opposed to last year) was the networking. I learned more outside the sessions than in the sessions. You summized my experience at NECC this year exactly. :)

  4. #4 by mrplough07 on July 4, 2008 - 3:20 PM

    @ Frank – you are more than welcome, Im glad that I’m in a position in my career where I can contribute to the greater education community.

    @mstina – the network has been the key to so many things for me this year, and at NECC it made all the difference between an average conference and the best I’ve been too.

    @Scott- I obviously don’t have as much as an issue with Pearson, although being anti-corporate (in general) I can see how they could come to control ed in Texas. Will check your ustream vid, thanks for the link. Congrats on your elearning experiment, I hope it works out good and look forward to discussing the field in years to come.

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