Summer thoughts and reflections

I had all intention of writing a final blog post from NECC on what I was thinking the last day of the conference and where do we go from here, but you know what…it’s summer time and right now my priorities are with spending time with friends and family. We’re down to just 3 1/2 weeks before we fly out to our new home in Bangkok and just trying to prepare for departure has me running around. So much daily life stuff to take care of when really I just want to sit and enjoy the summer. So today I’m doing just that. I’m sitting here on the porch with my mom getting stuff done. NECC: It’s been interestings reading what everyone has posted about the conference. Some people agreeing with my take on the conference and others saying that my posts are “rather scathing“. I mean no disrepsect to ISTE or NECC. Trust me….I know the work it takes to pull off a conference, and not one near the size of NECC. My thoughts on the conference are just that, my thoughts and what I was needing or looking for from my experience there. Learning is individual and we all learn in different ways and in different formats. For me NECC is a time to play with new tools, to have disucssions, and most importantly to meet my network in person. I get four days a year to meet the people I communicate with online, people I consider real friends from all over the US and world. Last year Blogger’s Cafe gave us a place to play with tools and have conversations. It was out of the way and there were no expectations of things to happen there. It was just what the name inferred. A cafe with a relaxed feel and friends new and old popping in and out. Last year Blogger’s Cafe was working for me. I would go to a session come back, blog the session, and have conversations. On top of that….the Starbucks stand was just a short walk away. 🙂 I was looking for that same feeling this year and never did find it. Many people did find it in different places and I’m glad they did. I just never found my grove. I enjoyed my time with friends and meeting new people in my network and just people in general. I taught...

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Thoughts on conferences

So the first full day of NECC 2008 comes to an end and I find myself thinking more about conferences, how to create them, manage them, and make them relevant to participants then I thought I would. Have I mentioned the conference we’re doing in Shanghai? 🙂 I’ve been thinking a lot about spaces and how important it is to create spaces for learning and conversing at the conference. Today I ran into cognitive overload. Ewan McIntosh does a beautiful job of explaining exactly how I was feeling today. At one point I literally had to find a quiet corner in the Hyatt to just take a breathe and relax. I felt like calling a time out and just pausing everything for a second. So here are my thoughts on designing and organizing a conference. Pace: The pace of the conference is an important aspect to consider. Chris Lehmann and I talked about this for a bit yesterday. How much time do you give between presentations? How many presentations do you have during a session? Both of these help to determine the pace of the conference. At NECC this year the feeling of many (including me) is that the pace of the conference is just to fast. Many sessions are closed to participants 15 minutes before they are do to begin. One person in the Blogger Cafe today talked about showing up 30 minutes early to get into a session and the line was already forming outside. Here at NECC the sessions run 60 minutes with varying start times in between sessions. With sessions filling up so fast, people feel an urgency to get to sessions quickly and then once there, feel like they can’t “vote with your feet” and leave a session because there is no guarantee that there is another session with space.Scale to Size: I talked about this in my last post and I think it is something you must make a priority if you are planning any type of conference. Your conference venue and the number of sessions you run per hour are two factors that you need spend time thinking about. At NECC this year I saw a sign that stated there were over 13,000 participants. A quick count of the number of presentations that were offered at 11am this morning was 33. A little simple math 13,000/33=394 people per presentation. 394 people per...

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EdubloggerCon and my need for Beta Time

Back from EdubloggerCon for the day and taking a break in the hotel room, catching up on the latest NECC chatter and reflecting on the day. I was worried before I got here of two things: 1. That EdubloggerCon this year would be different, to big, to scripted, and not unconference enough for me.2. That the NECC Unplugged sessions would over run the Blogger’s Cafe and leave us no place to converse. I hate to say it but my worries about #1 came true today. Last year in Atlanta it was small, we had three break out sessions with the largest session having about 30 people in it. This year we had three break out sessions with each group having 50 to 80 people in it. Much like Twitter these days, EdubloggerCon failed to scale in size and voices, learning, and conversations were lost. I think two things happened that we (as we all must take responsibility for EdubloggerCon as we create it) over looked. David Jakes brought up the point that we overlooked the physical space of the conference and what we were given. The large room we used was not set up, nor did we ever take the time to set it up to really be used in a way that included/engaged people in a conversation. I went to 1 1/2 sessions in the room. Look at the picture to the right…does that look like an unconference, conversation session to you? I walked out of the second session as I was way off to one side, had a hard time hearing, and was not engaged in the conversation titled: If the Leaders Don’t Get It, It’s Not Going To Happen. Secondly, I think we need to remember who we are…who this is for. We talk all the time about getting outside the echo chamber and let’s face it, EduBloggerCon is one big echo chamber. I look at the title of the session above and think: Yeah….we know that. We (90% of us here and watching live) know that leaders don’t get it and if they don’t get it it’s not going to happen…I know this already and the discussion did nothing but tell me that others get it too, that there are many ways to solve this issue, but all our schools are different and we solve the issue in different ways. By 1:45ish a bunch of...

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Ready, Set, NECC!

Landed in San Antonio today around 1:30 from Seattle. Left at 5:15am….is it bad when a 5 hour flight seems short and you actually look forward to sleeping upright on the plane? We arrived with not air trouble, checked in and then drove back to the airport to pick up my sister-in-law. We only have 5 weeks this summer to spend time with friends and family so scheduling time is important. So this trip is a conference for me and time for my wife, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law to spend some time together (Sister-in-law works in AZ). We went out to dinner tonight and then walked around a little before coming back to our hotel room where I found a tweet from Will Richardson who was live streaming from a restaurant on the River walk. Five minutes later I’m having a drink with Will, David, David, Dean, Brian, Laura, Bud and others. So let NECC begin! The conversation started tonight..as it usually does when you get a bunch of us together and I know tonight was only the beginning. I’m still thinking about things that were said and will continue to reflect on tonight’s conversations as we head into the EduBloggerCon tomorrow. So much to learn, so much to discuss, here we go with...

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Learning 2.008 Conference and EdubloggerCon Shanghai

We had a great planning meeting last night looking at the latest numbers for the conference. Not a good sign when we have more presentations then people registered for the conference. 🙁 I’m not to worried at this point, but then again I’m not the one in charge of the money. 🙂 This is why there aren’t many educational conferences in September. The timing just isn’t good. Schools are just now really looking at finances for next year and many teachers are not sure what their PD funds will look like until they get back in August. That, with the fact that in the International system we have so many people changing schools every year that their heads aren’t on the conference, but on moving. Last year we saw some 300 people sign up for the conference in August. I just hope we see that again this year. So those of you in the Asia region. Talk to your school heads and let’s get signed up! Also I’m proud to announce that this year we will be running an EduBloggerCon. It will take place Thursday September 18th at 9am. Matt at Catshanghai and Amanda at From the Outside Looking In will be helping with the planning. We’ll start at 9am and we’ll go until we’re done or until we need to leave to head over to the conference at about 4:30pm. What a great opportunity to meet other bloggers, talk Web 2.0 and just hang out in Shanghai. So come join us! Also last night the group came up with a great idea to create a Diigo bookmarking group for the conference. This will allow people to share links to great resources before, during and after the conference as well as expose them to social bookmarking. Last night we also took some time to play with Twitterlight. A Twitter application that runs on Microsoft Silverlight and looks really sweet (FYI…I’m sure we’ll play with this at NECC as well). SCIS where we will be holding the conference this year has 42 and 50 inch LCD TVs in every classroom and through out the school in hallways and common areas. Are plan is to have the conference twitter feed playing on these TVs throughout the conference! The conference schedule is also coming together nicely. Two full days of intense learning…that’s what we want. We had the people at Chinesepod.com stop...

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