Random Thoughts

NCCE Day 1

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Being back in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) during winter for the first time in seven years has been refreshing. Although the 50 degree temps are half of what my body is use to. 🙂 The clean fresh air of Seattle and Portland (yes…that is clean compared to Shanghai and Bangkok) is good on the lungs.

NCCEI gave a three hour workshop yesterday to educators from around the PNW the first presentation that I’ve actually given in the States…which is odd to think about. One thing that I found was that I do not give International Schools or International Educators enough credit when it comes to understanding the Internet and the social web that it has become.

In my session yesterday at NCCE I asked how many of the 12 people in the room had a Facebook page.

Answer: 2 (17%)

My experience internationally would have been 80% have a Facebook account.

When asking about Skype….only two people had used it. Internationally again would have been closer to 80%.

What’s the difference? International Educators are forced to learn the tools to stay in contact with people they care about back home. They are forced to use the tools, learn the skills, and be connected….and that’s your everyday international educator. What really worries me is that the 12 people that were in my workshop yesterday represent educators in the region who want to learn technology or are the gurus in their schools….and for that I applaud them.

Now this isn’t to say that having a Facebook account or using Skype has anything to do with understanding the use of technology in education. But I think it is an indication of your understanding of what is happening on the web today.

Here are some more stats from yesterday:

  • 1 out of 12 had using YouTube with students
  • 1 out of 12 had using a Wiki with students (the same 1 person)
  • 1 out of 12 had a class blog that they used to communicate with parents
  • 1 out of 12 had heard of and/or used iTunes U
  • 2 out of 12 did not own a cell phone

Again..what I think worries me is that this conference is made up of 1400 educators who are at least interested enough in technology to be here. What worries me is that from what I’ve seen so far, most are looking for the silver bullet. The application that can do it all, or the program you can buy, install and cover your standards. There are a few sessions on social-networking that I plan to go to today so we’ll see how well those are attended.

I guess I really shouldn’t be that surprised. At the pass NECC conferences a group of Edubloggers have tried to guess what percentage of educators at that conference truly understand the changes that are occurring. Our estimates: 250 out of 10,000…..or about 2.5%. OUCH! Not sure why I expected this conference to be any different….just hoping I guess.

What has really depressed me so far is a lack of “geekiness” I feel at this conference. I hope that changes today….but don’t worry I’m prepared to take matters into my own hands! Be looking for Twitter updates as I find a way to bring some geekiness to this conference!


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. Pingback: Ric Murry

  2. I’m also amazed at the lack of willingness to experiment. I went to a reading and teaching conference last Friday, in Toronto, and two out of three of the presenters I saw used overhead projector slides for their presentations…

    • I couldn’t say it better myself. You are spot on…as I sit here and reflect at the conference I feel a lack of willingness to experiment as well. Wonder if that is why I’m the only one Ustreaming.

  3. I have no doubt, you’ll take matters into your own hands. You’ll likely hack into screen, display some twitter feeds and then flee the country.

    I’ve seen it happen before. 😉

  4. I have no doubt, you’ll take matters into your own hands. You’ll likely hack into screen, display some twitter feeds and then flee the country.

    I’ve seen it happen before. 😉

  5. Could be a sampling problem. I experienced lots of “geekiness” and met lots of people using social networks, wikis, blogs, Google docs, open resources, etc. at NCCE.

    • I agree my sample was small and of course this is my opinion. This conference just didn’t “feel” right. Not sure what it is…can’t really put my finger on it. I went to a presentation every session except one hoping to find something to push my thinking, to learn something. I learned of more tools but never really had that conversation that led to deeper understanding of teaching and learning in a connected wired world.

  6. Pingback: Beth Still

  7. Jeff,
    Thanks for streaming the sessions. It is nice to be part of these conversations.

    I have been part of the technology in education conversation for about a year. A year ago this week Howie DiBlasi gave a presentation in my district and ended up with the same results you got. Very few (5 out of 100) people in the room had ever heard of YouTube, blogs, wikis, or Skype. I was one of the five, but I was barely getting started. Since then I have made it my mission to learn as much as I can about technology and how to integrate it into my classroom.

    If I had a nickle for each time I heard a fellow teacher say they do not have time to learn how to blog or set up a wiki I could retire early! I think you are right on target with the small percentage of educators who truly get what has changed over the last few years. Earlier this week I was in a training session where a computer applications teacher could not figure out how to register for a PB wiki account!

    Most teachers I know are scared to death to try anything new. I don’t get that mentality because I am the complete opposite! As soon as I learn about a new application the wheels in my head start turning as I try to figure out how I or my students could use it.

    I think sometimes my love and descent understanding of technology irritates my coworkers. That is why I love my PLN! They are as anxious to learn about new things as I am. (No eye rolling here!)

  8. I experienced similar feelings and observations upon my return to Australia from SIngapore several years ago. That lack of ‘geekiness’ in the education sector as a whole was apparent. In some areas ‘blog’ was a dirty word. Only a few of the staff in the various schools were aware of ‘connected’ possibilities. I felt the difference in a technological sense as well. From an environment where broadband was ubiquitous to one where dial-up was still common. It was a while before broadband was available in our region. I am tempted to conduct a similar survey myself now.
    Cheers, John

  9. Great post! I agree very much. Our school does not yet allow students online. This is soon, hopefully, going to be changed. However, I worry our teachers may not yet see the value in this. I enjoy your blog and look forward to more!

  10. International teaching does lead to resourcefulness, creativity and a huge appreciation of collaboration and connectiveness. Many teachers here seem to lack courage to be innovative. What I have found since being back in the states is that most are paralyzed by state testing and such. In my district I feel very supported in being innovative, but I do not feel encouraged. You have to have the courage to step out on your own and go above and beyond. You have to have the courage to know that there is more than one way to reach a goal. It is not the culture of our system. Most teachers don’t feel that that they have permission to be innovative. I just don’t ask for permission…:)

    • Martha, in the largest district in the NCCE area, I am neither encouraged nor supported in innovation. The mountain will not move.

      Here’s my current strategy: make a lot of noise (this would be the diversion), and then innovate under the radar – sound familiar?

      Hey congrats on NCCE educator of the year! – Mark

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