Random Thoughts

5 Tips to a successful NECC

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NECC is just a few days away which means the chatter is getting louder. I always love listening and reading first timers to NECC. It will be my fourth NECC and I’m looking forward to the conversations…always the best part!

As it gets closer I’m starting to set up my computer to best follow the conversation and thought I’d share my 5 Tips to a successful NECC.

This is the key to a great conference. People are so friendly and don’t feel like you need to be invited into a conversation. If you over hear someone talking, explaining something, or chatting about an issue that interests you…get involved! Introduce yourself and take part in the discussion. Conferences are about meeting people, putting twitter names and faces together, and geeking out! Don’t be afraid to ask for help, ask a question, or start a discussion. The Blogger’s Cafe and other cafe areas are great places to just hang out and be with other educators.

2. Get Twittered!
If you have been waiting to “get twitter” this could be the time and place for you to get it. Twitter will be the communication tool of choice for many and it will be a great way to keep up with the conference. The problem will be following the conference via Twitter as I have a feeling the conversations are going to be fast and furious. The best thing I can recommend is to get a twitter desktop application that allows you to set up and follow search terms in twitter. I use Seesmic Desktop but would also recommend Tweetdeck. Both will allow you to search for a term and then add a “deck” that will auto update and tweets with those words or terms in it. I suggest setting up two search terms. #NECC09 which is the tag for the conference and NECC for those who just mention the conference.

By using a desktop application it wil auto update and you won’t have to spend your time staring at and refreshing a web page.

If you find the information via Twitter to fast or not what you want you can refine your search by adding other words. For example do a search for #NECC09 and 1:1 if you only want updates from NECC about 1:1 computing. You can customize your stream of information anyway you want it. Remember Twitter is a live stream of content created by people. You just need to decide what content you want to follow and then follow it!

3. Live Chat!
Keep your eyes and ears open for back channel chat sessions happening during presentations. The URLs usually come via Twitter or by word of mouth in the session itself. If you find that nobody in a session you are attending has set up a back channel chat….then you can set one up yourself and use twitter to post the URL of the chat site.

Two great quick sites to use for back channel chats:



Play with both of them before you arrive at NECC so that you know how they work and you can be an active member in the chat.

4. Blog!
Take time to write down your thoughts about the conference. Blogging is a great way to reflect on your learning and conversations throughout the days. David Warlick wrote a post on how to use tags while blogging at the conference.

5. Take a time out!
Don’t feel like you have to go to every session. I did this my first year and ended up so tired by the end of the day that the conversations that went on in bars and over dinner I missed. Take some time to miss a session and join in conversations in the hallways and in the cafes (see #1). Also know that the conference doesn’t end when the lest session is over. There are twitter meet-ups, blogger meet-ups, and just plan old meet-ups all evening. Find a group and enjoy DC!

So those are my 5 tips to a successful NECC conference. What are your tips to a successful NECC?

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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. As always, Jeff, you are ensuring everyone get the most out of every second.

    Have fun at the conference. Good luck with it all…and enjoy DC…a great town. Sorry I can’t meet you up there…see you back in BKK.

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  9. Enjoyed this post, Jeff! This will be my first NECC this year, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what it’s like. I followed conversations on Twitter last year, and tuned into some of the sessions via UStream, but I know there’s nothing like being there in person and chatting face to face.

    Hope to run into you!! Travel safe.

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