NECC all over but the flight

My thoughts and feeling about my first NECC are mixed.

Was I expecting too much?

I was expecting to find a new conversation. A conversation that
I feel needs to happen in education. A conversation that isn’t just about
technology, but about the changing nature of our students, our
classrooms, and our society. I found it in likely places with David
Warlick
and Will Richardson’s presentations, but beyond those I didn’t
feel it. I saw a lot of technology being used and sold in the same way
it has been for the past 20 years. Maybe I wasn’t listening to the right conversations, but the feel of something different wasn’t
there…for me anyway.

Will writes:

There will be much more to come on this topic I’m sure, but thus far,
NECC has turned out to be feeling very much like a pivotal moment for
these tools.

I’ll agree that the tools that can and hopefully will affect change are at a pivotal point here with blogs, podcasting, rss, and others being mentioned in almost every session. But the tools are only half of the formula. The tools are here, we have them, but without a change in how we view education these tools will not affect education the way I believe it needs to be.

In three different sessions I attended the presenters talked about constructivism and the constructivist learning theory. I’m all for the constructivist learning theory, but if we truly want to change education using these tools we need a learning theory that fits them. George Siemens’ Connectivism theory (2004) is much more relevant to what these tools and the new social web allows us as educators to do, and is more in tune with what our students are experiencing.

David Warlick writes:

I’ve been engaged by many conversations here at NECC, and much of it
has led me to believe that technology is not the linchpin for affecting
better and more relevant learning. I believe that the linchpin is to
understand the experience that our children have in the information
landscape that technology provides.

This is what I’m thinking and I’m glad David was able to have these types of conversations at NECC. That makes me feel better. :)

NECC was a great experience if for no other reason than the conversations that I had with Tim Lauer, Will Richardson, David Warlick, David Jakes, and others. Those conversations and the others that hopefully took place round the conference is what makes NECC a conference worth attending. Where else can you get together 12,000 educators all talking about technology and looking towards the future.

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10 Comments

  1. Hey Jeff,
    It was great to meet you in person and spend some time together. I think the best thing about a conference like NECC, maybe the only great thing, is the chance to spend some time with folks you would not otherwise have an opportunity to talk with. Don’t let the hucksterism get you down. It’s the conversations that take place away from the convention hall that are the real value. Oh, and those big, big Best Buy bags… :-)

    Take care, see ya round…
    tim

  2. Hi Jeff,
    This is Dr. King from Podcast for Teachers. Wish I had spotted you at NECC. I would have loved to have spoken with you.
    Yes it is difficult to find the deeper conversations that push at new horizons and developments. We will have lots of comments and discussions on Podcast for Teachers coming up…
    Don’t be discouraged… Keep in touch and have a safe trip on that long way back.
    I just made it back to the east coast of the USA
    Best
    KPK

  3. Hi Jeff. Very interesting insights and you are right in a sense, however, I always approach conferences like this from this angle: it’s really hard to learn about how to interact with students from others. I have to develop my own sense of that but conferences such as this provide new insights on tools that might be available to facilitate those insights…

  4. Jeff, did I understand you were from Shanghaii?
    Saw that in the post from Will R.

    Some of us are very busy and too financially strained to make NECC. Darn. Thus we are monitoring some of the conversations from participants’ blogs.

    However, there are things happening that are exciting and.. perhaps.. not in the headlights just now, as are blogging, podcasting, and other hot topics.

    Check out these two sites to see what is possible. They are not successful at this time (NASA isn’t cooperating with the schools’ timetables!), but the possibilities suggest that we can get beyond the technology into real-world, interactive, constructivist-oriented shared international experiences.

    We are using a purchased product because it works without focusing attention on the product, it offers multiple language capabilities, and it exists in both schools.

    If you get a chance, look over these sites:

    link to blackboard.ocmboces.org

    and

    link to blackboard.ocmboces.org

    I’d welcome your feedback.
    Dan

  5. Hi Jeff,
    I read your post and I understand your frustrations. Not everyone “gets it”. In fact, I’m a technology facilitator (for a few more weeks at least) in a school district with a 1-1 laptop initiative. We have a new superintendent who’s convinced that the laptop program, and what teachers are doing with technology is DEcreasing reading scores. His solution? To drastically cut the group of facilitators who actually know what technology can and should do for education!

    I didn’t post to whine, however. One thing I must constantly remember as a facilitator is that technology use and integration occurs in a continuum: personal use, developing materials for teaching/using technology to teach lesson, technology projects with students that mirror current teaching, technology projects that transform the way kids learn. Teachers can’t go from personal use to transformative teaching in a year! Conferences like NECC have to address people, wherever they are in that continuum. Yes, for those of us who seek ideas to transform education, Jakes, Warlick and Richardson make our brains smoke and fingers fly on the keyboards! We get what we need for where we are at, and others are inspired by what they can absorb! We’re all on a different car in the technology train! Thanks for sharing your NECC experiences – I wasn’t able to attend this year.
    Tracy Fowler,Technology Facilitator (soon to be 5th grade teacher)

  6. Hey Jeff,

    It was great to meet you, and I really hope that conversations continue. I hear you when you say that we need to start talking seriously about the changes in that need to take place in our classrooms and that we’re not at that level yet. And I think there is an urgency to getting there that most edbloggers feel because they understand the transformative potential for learning. It’s powerful. The really scary part is that most of the country is still not even aware that the conversations are taking place. That was NECC. It was all about technology, and they are just now getting it. I’m in Western NY as I write this, and tomorrow a bunch of teachers will just start down this road. This is going to take some time no matter how urgent it feels. But we just have to keep pushing it…

    Thanks for your contributions and for your good thinking.
    Will

  7. Jeff
    Just wanted to say thank you for pinting me to the George Seimen’s article. From an administrative perspective I need this kind of information to help make my case. I understand the need to have a message prepared but finding the resources to prepare it can be a time consuming task.
    I agree about the conversations being important and in addition I had the good fortune of bring 4 additional staff memebers with me which helped build a shared vision. But time and distance constraints mean that we need to bring more educators into the areana of Web 2.0 so that we can reflect and share on the message together. It has been almost a year since I began reading blogs on and off and now the vision for our school is about to become a reality.

  8. I wasn’t at the conference but I have to agree with David W. in that technology, in itself, is not the answer. It is understanding our students in “their world” and using that information (technology) to engage them enough to want to delve into a more intellectual world.

  9. At Tapped In the other day there was a professional development meeting going on relating to the “Art of Storytelling.” It was a real time chat and there were a number of educators there. The difference this time is that there was also one student who was about to enter high school. He was very polite, insightful and articulate, and the teachers were interested in his opinions.

    It occured to me that in this day of theoretical shifts in pedagogy away from didacticism and towards student centered learning that educators for the most part have missed the boat: we don’t listen to students. In theory we want student-centered learning, yet we take the full responsibility for developing curriculum to this end. If students aren’t involved in the process, how can we expect them to be fully invested in the result? Students in particular could play a pivotal role in suggesting uses of technology in the classroom. I suggested to this student that he approach his English teacher next year and share the sites that were discussed with them, possibly having them do lessons from the sites or at least allowing the student to do independent study. How often do students get an opportunity to give input?

    This relates to the topic at hand because not only are most educators left out of discussions at NECC, but *no K-12 students participate or have input*. Furthermore the irony that in a conference devoted to sustained professional development takes place over a few days, and then participants leave with a “and now what?” feeling begs that very question. Sure, you could blog about it for a while, and indeed, the blogging “community” could agree to meet at someone’s particular blog… but it’s a random solution at best. Indeed, I often wonder when I hit a blog and make a comment (never to return again to that particular blog), did I have an impact?

    The obvious need is for a chance for sustaining input and support, and a venue to do it. Comments about a sense of community while engaged in conversations at NECC as being the most important aspect clearly point to a need for that community to continue. This is one of the reasons why I have created the NECC 2006 Group Room at Tapped In. In addition to facilitating the workshop I gave at NECC (via Tapped In and videoconferenc, like others I could not afford to attend), I offer sustained support through Tapped In and facilitate collaboration between members. There is no charge for this, and there are no hotel or air fares to pay.

    On Wednesday July 19th from 8a.m. to 8p.m. we hold the annual Tapped In Festival, and I will host a NECC Plus Two Weeks session at 1p.m. Pacific. It will be an opportunity to bring people together who thought they might never meet again, share ideas and begin collaborations or continue them. Will Richardson will be a keynote speaker at 8a.m. and there are many breakout sessions viewable on the Tapped In Calendar. In case you’re wondering, yes, that high school student will be there.

    Membership at Tapped In is *free*.
    Attending this virtual Festival conference is *free*.
    Receiving support from Tapped In Helpdesk members is *free*.
    All sessions are logged and members automatically receive transcripts.
    There are over 700 professional development groups, university and K-12 classes at Tapped In.
    Make Tapped In your hub for meeting and hold regular meetings there which could also be reposted to blogs, etc. as needed, as well as threaded discussion boards which double as mini-listservs. I invite you all to join and also attend the Festival, our theme being “Sustaining Professional Development” definitely continues the theme from NECC. Bring a colleague… or a student!

    Regards,

    Jeff Cooper
    Tapped In Helpdesk
    Education Technology Support Consultant

  10. Are you presenting at the next conference ISTE San Antonio in June? If you are, what are the topics?

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