It has been a week+ since NECC09 wrapped up and I am finally getting settled back in at the college. I have been playing catch up with work responsibilities but have also had some time to digest the mind expanding behemoth that is NECC. Actually, I don’t think I will be able to finish digesting everything. While officially only three days, there seems there is a learning halo effect around the conference that persists. I still have the #necc09 twitter hash tag open in Tweetdeck and continue to pull resources and links on a daily basis. This is a great thing.
For most of the sessions I went to, I took notes. I am not usually a detailed note taker, but I this time I found it a great way to get back into the mind set of a particular session. As some of you saw, I shared them in raw form. I was surprised when some of them got a few hits on Twitter and other places. I even got a comment from Kathy Schrock herself. This only helped further my thought process on the sessions. Just great. If you missed them, here are my posts with notes. Some are updated with my thoughts, some aren’t. I had wanted to get to them earlier, but NECC was just too busy to keep up. I am still slowly revisiting them and adding things here and there.
I also attended a few other sessions that I just didn’t have batteries to note take with. Oh well, such is the state of our battery technology.
Anyways, on to what I learned at NECC09 in no certain order.
A full experience requires a WiFi access.
The wifi network was down on the bus. The wifi network was down at the conference. The wifi network was down at the Hotel. It was terrible.
I have talked to many a non-connected people about this and their general thought is. “You should know how to opperate without the crutch of the Internet.” What baloney!
Even though I feel for the people at the conference center tasked with providing access to 18,000 people, it should have been working. They did know how many techy-educators were coming. I and my fellow conference goers lost the ability to tweet, blog, stream, etc. our thoughts in real-time. I can operate just fine when not connected, however I felt like I was missing out on half of the experience without access at the conference. Part of the learning process is producing, participating, and sharing with others.
The iPod Touch/iPhone is going to be huge.
Duh, it already is. Yeah, I know. Just wait. There were a lot of sessions on how the device can be integrated in the classroom in very different ways. It was a bit of a hot topic this year.
I don’t have an iPhone. I am currently a BlackBerry user. I am not against the iPhone, I have just had a hard time justifying the price of the AT&T plan. I do have an iPod touch though. Up until NECC I have used it only sparingly. I decided that I was going to put it through its paces while I was in DC and see how it would work as my primary device (minus the phone of course).
I already liked my iPod. The web experience is hands down the best on any mobile device I have tried to date. However, I have now drank the kool-aid and am entering the iPod zeaoltry zone. It isn’t that I learned a lot of new things about the device. The biggest eye opener was how my connected experience was augmented by the device. While I can twitter, email, and blog on my BlackBerry, the interface is not as reactive or responsive as the iPod. The ease of use is the killer feature for me.
After seeing Malcolm Gladwell’s opening keynote I thought I would pick up his book, Outliers. Instead of getting a physical paper copy I thought I would grab the Amazon Kindle App from the App Store and download the electronic copy. While I am saving my experience reading the book on the iPod for a future blog post, know that it works great.
MLTI is truly a shining example.
After attending a few 1:1 sessions at NECC, I can truly say without hesitation that Maine is light years ahead of most other places in regards to implementing a state-wide 1:1 program. The discussions a lot of people are having around their programs seem to have happened in Maine in 2001. A lot of people seem to be touting “it isn’t about the technology” then proceed to explain the technical aspects of their program. From the beginning MLTI has been about the learning process. Not only in words but in action. It gives me great pride to be involved with such a future forward program.
Poll Everywhere is freakin’ awesome.
I have to admit being a tad embarrassed that I didn’t know about www.polleverywhere.com. It allows you to poll an audience in real-time using Twitter, SMS, or the Web. Very much like a student response system. It is very easy to use and seems to work great. It is even free for up to 30 responses. I just can’t believe I didn’t know about it.
It’s the system not the teacher.
I have been saying this as of late in conversations about improving education. NECC has showed many a great path to meaningful technology integration. What blocks many of these paths? The system. The way schools are currently set up/work/exist prevent much of these great learning opportunities from being implemented. Even worse, the system is so engrained into our culture that we often don’t think there is any other way to learn. This is the topic of another post.
My point: the problem isn’t with teachers. The teachers I work with everyday are genuinely interested in improving learning. All too often these teachers get excited about a new technology they could use in their classroom only to be shot down by some artificial block put in place by the system. The experience of NECC reminded me why I do what I do. The point of it all is to improve learning no matter what the system my be.
Maine has some of the best and most passionate learning change agents in the world.
On the 12 hour bus ride with 50 or so technology folks was a blast. We broke the wifi in a matter of minutes. I lost horribly in iPhone poker (which we had to create our own private ACTEM Poker network for). We watched geek movies, including the wonderfully inaccurate Hackers. Most importantly we had a chance to chat and mingle. We are often only connected through the loose ties that Twitter and the ACTEMlist provide. It was great to see and meet new people all on a similar page. It didn’t stop on the bus either. We also had trips to lunches, dinners, and a RedSox game. All great places to talk with the people that are making Maine a leader in 21st century learning through technology. These interactions always leave me proud to live and work in the state of Maine.
Learning Never Stops
Okay, so I didn’t learn this one at NECC. You got me. I include it only to illustrate how easy it is to learn in the 21st century. NECC exemplifies the future of professional development. Going to the conference is only part of the experience. For example, let’s take a look at a few of the official ISTE web presences for NECC.
- ISTE Connects – The collection of blogs and news with links to other great NECC resources.
- ISTE Vision – For video on-demand session.
- NECC Ning – The Ning for NECC.
- ISTE Island – The virtual island for ISTE which is a big part of NECC.
That does even count the other places to follow NECC like Twitter, Facebook, delicious, or diigo. The NECC experience shows that learning isn’t just about filling your head with facts. It is about engaging in discussion, creating knowledge, and finding your interests.
I had a great time at NECC09. See you all next year at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver for ISTE2010.