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Some Final Thoughts on NECC 2009

In the 1980’s era musical “Chess“, the lead character proclaims the tournament in which he is about to participate to be “… a show with everything but Yul Brynner*”.

That lyric has been running through my warped little brain as I’ve been reviewing my notes and watching some of the video from NECC, the annual edtech expo that wrapped up here in DC just over a week ago.

This is one conference that really does have something for everyone – or at least anyone even remotely connected to instructional technology.

However, one big impression I always have following NECC is to feel sorry for the novice.

The sheer size of this carnival is overwhelming, which also makes it hard for newbies to find the good stuff.

Certainly someone who followed the crowds likely saw lots of rapid fire examples of cool web 2.0 tools, not to mention lots and lots of people poking at interactive whiteboards.

The two largest manufacturers of those devices were conference “Tier 1 sponsors” so they, and the people selling them as the ultimate edtech solution, were impossible to miss. (I feel a new rant about IWBs coming on. :-)

Hopefully someone guided those NECC first-timers into the area for the poster sessions where they were far more likely to see examples of authentic uses of technology for teaching and learning.

For me, the highlight of NECC was once again was the day-long EduBloggerCon, an event that’s not even part of the formal conference. (Most of us in the class of 09 are pictured at the left.)

This was the third year for this meetup/unconference and the size and style returned to being more like the first time around in Atlanta.

Lots of valuable discussions (big and small) along with the always-valued opportunity to meet some of the people whose work I regularly follow online.

So, that’s pretty much it for this year.

As I noted earlier, our commitments to support the conference didn’t allow for many sessions or getting involved in many Blogger’s Cafe discussions, making this year’s event a different sort of experience.

Or any blogging during those five days, although for many, Twitter has taken over that function.

And I’m already looking forward to getting back to normal (or whatever passes for normal) next June in Denver.

* Look him up, kiddies. :-)

Not Your Normal NECC

Ok, so normal may not be the right word.

But the recently concluded NECC (soon to be the conference formerly known as NECC) certainly was a very different experience from the past four or five I’ve attended.

Much of that was due to having the event so close to town (and commuting into town instead of staying in a hotel) in addition being more involved with both supporting the conference and our district’s presence.

Going far away for a conference is somewhat isolating, even with constant connectivity, and going home every night instead of a hotel allowed real life to intrude.

One result was that I didn’t get to many sessions, but I’m not sure that’s a big problem. Increasingly for me the real value of a conference like NECC is not found in the presentation rooms but in the corners and hallways.

It was not being able to spend much time in the Blogger’s Cafe or at NECC Unplugged (not to mention the after hours conversations) that I missed most.

Fortunately, I did make it to EduBloggerCon, which is more of those less formal discussions (more thoughts about that in another post). And my session went well.

Anyway I’ll also be spending more time than would be normal in the weeks following NECC going through the videos and other online materials to get some idea of what I missed.

And figuring out how I can get to Denver next year.

Making Plans for NECC

The housing reservations page for NECC 2009 is open and in past years, I would be there on day one trying to grab a room at the cheapest hotel within walking distance of the conference venue.

Not this year.

This time around I’m staying home and NECC is coming to us, just a short (depending on which line is screwed up on any particular day) Metro ride away at the DC Convention Center.

While it’s great traveling to conferences, it’s just as well NECC is here since it’s pretty clear that, considering the budget mess we’re facing here in the overly-large school district, I won’t be getting any help with expenses.

Anyway, even if you’re not completely sure whether you’ll be visiting us next June, book your reservation before all the cheap slightly less expensive rooms are gone.

And hopefully, lots of you will be able to join us for the big show.

Not In Texas Anymore

Getting off the plane from San Antonio and walking through the terminal at (NOT Reagan) National Airport, we passed a gift shop with a clearance sale table out front.

Half the surface was covered with stacks of Hillary Clinton for President t-shirts.

One more unique sight from inside the beltway.

Welcome home.

The End… For Now

Ok, I’m done.

After five days running around San Antonio and this huge conference center, it’s time to go home and sift through my thoughts and notes to figure out what I’ve learned.

Despite all the griping I’ve done in this space over the past few days (I need to work on my negativity! :-), NECC this year has been a good experience and was worth the trip

However, I couldn’t tell you much about the conference itself since I only attended a few of the sessions printed in the program.

Most of my time was spent with the people and discussions swirling around in the halls and lounges.

Almost immediately after getting back it will be time to begin thinking about NECC 2009. But certainly not because any of us needs another massive conference right away.

Next June the conference will be coming to DC for the first time and, since our district is a short Metro ride from the convention center, we’ll be rounding up volunteers as soon as everyone returns from the summer break.

Yes, I’m looking forward to stuffing bags. :-)

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