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Tag: necc09 (Page 2 of 2)

You Can’t Plug All The Holes

Sometimes decisions are made by people higher than my pay grade here in the overly-large school district (and there are a whole lot of them) that are frustrating, occasionally strange, and once in a while, unfathomable.

Then there are those that just make me want to laugh uncontrollably.

This particular example begins with our system being involved with the local arrangements for NECC (mostly recruiting volunteers), which begins a week from Sunday.

As one of the “rewards” for our efforts, we get a small booth in the exhibit hall, the management of which is being handled by our IT and public relations departments.

At that booth they will be distributing, among other promotional literature, a list of the presentations being made by district employees.

My session will not be included.

However, that’s not a problem. I actually understand why and that’s what triggers the giggling.

You see the topic I’ll be addressing (WordPress as a content management system for non-geek educators), involves a technology that the IT folks in our district do not support.

Actually, truth be told, they want nothing to do with open source projects of any kind (and certainly not any CMS that isn’t named Blackboard).

Or, for that matter, with any of the growing collection of open collaborative and networking tools out there on the read/write web (Google Docs being another sore point around here).

All of them are resources over which they cannot exercise complete and total control.

Unfortunately, that concept of controlling every aspect of the educational process also extends to many of the instructional choices being made by our administrators.

It’s almost as if these open technologies are new holes that keep forming in the traditional dikes we’ve built around our schools, allowing the outside world to leak in and infect our students with ideas not in the curriculum.

Our administration just doesn’t have enough fingers to plug them fast enough.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to give up on the total-control, we-gotta-do-it-ourselves philosophy and embrace the fact that the world is becoming ever more interconnected.

We need our teachers and kids to be networked to that world, not blocked from it.

Six Ideas for Skipping NECC Sessions

So, NECC in DC is about three weeks away and if you’re planning to attend, here are six ideas for stuff to distract you from the conference sessions and exhibit floor.

The International Spy Museum – Whoever is running the tours for NECC will charge you $65 for the full package here. Buy tickets online for $25 (plus $2 service charge) and ride the Metro two stops from the convention center. Or walk. Many exhibits are interactive and the whole place is a lot of fun.

The Smithsonian Folk Life Festival – This annual celebration on the National Mall is presented in two parts, one just before NECC begins (June 24-28) and one just after (July 1-5). I have no idea why they split it that way but if you’re going to be here early or late, it’s worth attending. Lots of great music, food and exhibitions. And it’s free (except the food, of course).

The Newseum – Again, the NECC tour will cost you $55 but you could walk or take a short ride on the Metro and buy a regular $20 ticket. The 3D theater is pretty good and don’t miss the view from the 6th floor terrace.

The US Capitol – I haven’t been to the new visitor center yet but I’ll probably sneak off to see it during the conference. If you want someone to show you around, contact the office of your Senator and arrange for it as far ahead of time as possible. You can do the same for the White House but that tour is not really worth the effort (IMHO).

The National Zoo – Certainly not the biggest zoo in the country but a very nice experience that can be seen in half a day. And it’s free. Go first thing in the morning before the crowds show up and don’t miss the Asia Trail (right, Karen? :-). Take the Metro to the Cleveland Park station and walk down hill to the entrance. Then walk down hill to the Woodley Park/Zoo station to get back to Metro.

The National Cathedral – Sitting on a hill above the National Mall, you can get a good view of the city from up here. If you can, take the Behind The Scenes tour (weekdays at 10:30) which usually include a climb to the bell tower from which the view is even better. Unfortunately, there’s no easy and direct way to get here on public transportation.

Anyone have other suggestions?

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.

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