Final Impression of NECC

My intention is to write about the many things I learned about NECC09 in separate posts, but I’m writing my “wrap up” post first.

This is my second attendance at NECC – the first being in Chicago in 2001 as a new technology teacher. That conference was a blur for me since it was my very first experience of any ideas, concepts, or tools in the ed-tech world. I do remember being so extremely excited about all I learned that I created a 4 inch 3 ring binder with handouts and went through them with my principal in a meeting the summer before I started my position as technology coordinator. I must have been pretty enthusiastic and passionate during that initial meeting, because she spent the next several years quoting me, asking me to revisit things she heard me mention, and basically letting me develop an awesome technology program. I didn’t meet many people and I made no lasting friendships, but I saw amazing presenters (including Steve Jobs) that were influential and help me expand my knowledge and certainly my enthusiasm for all things Ed-tech. I remember being overwhelmed but not in a negative way. Soaking it all up like a sponge was more the feeling I remember.

I’ve gone in to so much detail about that first conference to make a point about this conference. After working in the ed-tech world for 8 years now, what I gain from this event is very different. First of all, I keep handouts in my delicious links or in a folder on my desktop – there are no binders. That’s not the important part though. I’m not a newbie anymore and I have to carefully select the sessions I attend so that I can gain something from them. That’s pretty tricky – more on that in another post. Here’s what the Conference meant to me.

  • I “hung out” with old friends from ICE, helping me further establish relationships that will help me with my contribution to my Illinois tech teacher community.
  • I was able to put a face with a name for people that I know through Twitter and blogs I read on a regular basis – although I didn’t do as well with that as I’d hoped.
  • I managed to go to several really interesting breakout sessions in a variety of topics, and although I claim to be an expert, I managed to take away something new.
  • I validated my disdain for anything commercial. Although I visited the vendor floor, I picked up no swag and made no new contacts. I didn’t even pick up my personally engraved flash drive. (If ISTE could send that to me – I’d really appreciate it!) If you’re looking for a pen or a T-shirt, I would not be the one to ask.

Here’s what I’m wondering……

Being that ed-tech has been around for so many years, evidenced by the fact that the conference has been around for 30 years, was there anyone there this time that was “soaking things up like a sponge”? Did educators leave with enthusiasm and passion for new ideas, tools, and strategies?

I’m in a much different place now, but I think I’ll go to NECC again. I’m still learning and I particularly like being validated by my colleagues in face to face chats and while listening to really smart presenters who I seem to connect with.

See you in Denver!

Goodbye Flowgram

When I learned how to use Flowgram, I thought it was the best tool ever! Where else could you combine text, images, perhaps PowerPoint slides, websites, and recorded narration to create an online presetation that was interactive? I created a couple of Flowgrams and the one on Information Literacy had several hits and I promoted it with my staff and in presentations I made for ICE. I’m not really upset that all my hard work is going to waste (I could, afterall, download it as a video from the site just before it goes completely dead.) These kind of presentations need to updated anyway. I am, however, looking for the next cool tool! I don’t care if these new fangled Web2.0 tools either start charging or cease to exist. It’s all about transfer of knowledge. I’ll use what I learned when creating my Flowgrams to create an enhanced Podcase in GarageBand – which will not go away anytime soon.

So, if you see any nifty new thing that needs trying, give me a shout! I love trying new things. (Just make sure it’s free.)

The Legacy

This morning was a little hectic in my house. My middle child was off to school to take the ACT and my youngest was off to a friend’s lake house with all 77 classmates to celebrate their graduation. When the house was quiet again, I sat down with a cup of coffee and the Today Show.

The entire show was a tribute to Tim Russert. I found their tribute informative, since I don’t know much about him, and touching. After the show was over, what resonates with me is what Mr. Russert’s friends and colleagues said about him as a father, a friend, and a co-worker. They talked about him as being a very “genuine” person who demonstrated a real concern for the people he worked with. All of his colleagues, even his competitors said that he brought out the very best in people, because of his extremely high standards. In addition, he delighted in the success of others. It mattered a great deal to him that he should live his life with integrity and character. This was a man that demonstrated a high set of ethics and showed a great deal of passion. I could tell that the guests on the show were deeply touched by this man and they eloquently described Tim as one who made a real impact on everyone he was associated with, not just as a journalist, but as a friend.

I think that hearing people talk about Mr. Russert reminds me that living a life with passion, high standards, and integrity is something that all of should aspire to do. I would want to know that the people I work with thought that I showed a real concern for others, brought out the best in people, and celebrated their successes. These are lessons that I want to teach my children…..if they would just pay attention.

Personal Learning Networks III

Although it’s Spring break, I’ve been pretty busy this week. I’ve developed another strategy for keeping well-informed in the area of educational technology and finding and tagging along with people who have a similar passion. As promised in an earlier post, I’ve been actively utilizing twitter. Because of those people I follow, I’ve had a chance to listen in on workshops broadcasts on Ustream.tv, I’ve expanded my list of blogs that I read, and I’ve developed a use for a web2.0 tool called Diigo. It’s pretty amazing how busy these ed-tech people are. Every few seconds, someone posts a message about a new blog article, preparing for presentation to their staff, or sending out a notice about a live stream of their workshop. There are also recommendations for great sites (hence, the new use of Diigo) or requests for technical help.

twitpic

There is a really cool phenomenon among those I follow in twitter. People I follow post information about themselves that goes beyond the professional stuff. There’s been news about lost jobs, the need for new jobs, sick children, and the lost of a parent. The twitter community is extremely supportive. The community is always willing to offer advice, job leads, and offers of prayers. It’s an awesome community.

This blog entry by vanishingpoint explains twitter as a PLN opportunity extremely well. He says, “Twitter has opened amazing learning opportunities for me occasionally the 100+ folks that I follow post so much information I need to archive it to get to later. But THAT IS A GOOD THING! It proves to me and frankly forces me to continuously be grazing information (a skill in itself) and learning continuously.” I couldn’t agree more.

On the other side of the coin, I find the process intimidating. After all, I am following some really smart people. I’m not yet comfortable twittering about my blog posts, and I don’t Ustream.tv any of my workshops. I’m pretty proficient, but I can’t offer much technical advice to this bunch of “geeks”. I’ve yet to find a voice in the world of edu-bloggers, so I can’t provide any words of wisdom. For now, I am happy just to follow all this wealth of knowledge, and maybe someday, I’ll make a really substantial contribution to the community.