I could write several paragraphs about how I was looking forward to meeting my PLN face-to-face. But with the exception of the very few people I did not get the chance to see, meeting the educators I’ve been communicating with online met and even exceeded my expectations. What has been keeping me from posting my thoughts has been the other people I met at this year’s National Educational Computing Conference.
Before I tell you about the 4 educators that left the biggest impression on me, let me first tell you about the interesting way I arrived at NECC this year. This is my 3rd NECC in the last 4 years. Usually the CMSCE funds my entire trip, but since I will also be attending BLC this summer, I went to one of our partners and asked if they would help with my expenses. I was very fortunate that Promethean agreed to pay for much of my expenses in San Antonio in exchange for some sessions on the conference floor.
THIS CHANGED EVERYTHING.
I had a set schedule of sessions at 11, 1 and 3 each day that kept me from attending many of the sessions given by the people in my PLN that I could have learned something from. I had limited time to spend in the Second Life Lounge and Blogger’s Café as it seemed I always had to be back to the conference floor. And the largest affect it had on me personally was that I had to wear a vendor shirt the entire day. Not only was I snubbed by many vendors until I whipped out my “other” name tag that had “CMSCE, Rutgers University” printed on it, but my insecurities led me to believe that those that didn’t know me yet felt that I was maybe in the “wrong” place due to the label on my shirt.
THIS CHANGED EVERYTHING.
- I met a teacher where I presented (6 times) who never left the booth – did not even know there was anything to do besides the conference floor – and was not interested in checking anything out even when invited to join me. This left me wondering what percentage of the educators that go to NECC actually attend the sessions and what percentage only visit the conference floor. Dean Shareski estimated that only about “300 of the 17,000 attendees have any sense of what powerful online communities are all about” I think he’s right. It’s a number we should all work on increasing.
- Two technology teachers I sat next to during a lunch break had never used a wiki before and had no idea what social bookmarking was. Brian Crosby overheard some teachers on the shuttle commenting how none of them thought to bring their laptops. Is this population of 17,000 so connected that they would feel a need to bring their technology with them? We think of our iPhones and laptops as appendages, but we are in the minority.
- A vender snubbed me (I assume it was because of my shirt) until I switched my name tag to the Rutgers University side at which time they immediately became interested in me.
- An educator convincingly told me she used Twitter to keep up with technology trends, but when I checked out her profile, she followed three people (one of which was me). I know I can be passionate about my PLN as I rely on many and most of you for an exchange of quality resources and information. I think Mark Wagner said it well on his blog a few days ago when he wrote “I definitely advocate sharing your passions, but we need to remember that they are after all constructing their own meaning and that this usually happens gradually and organically over time.”
I keep thinking about Educon. I’m looking forward to meeting again in Philly. I know the format with be slightly different and the numbers will be slightly larger – but the conversations that came out of that weekend generated many of the networks that exist today. I was in the Blogger’s Café with Riptide_Furse (who I was psyched to meet face-to-face) when Jennifer Dorman did her session on Diigo. I didn’t recognize her from the little Twitter avatar, but Rip told me who she was, and I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself because I had to run back to the floor and do another vendor session, but I would love to have a detailed conversation with her regarding her comments on her blog. Jennifer wrote “I do question whether or not huge conferences like this one are truly the best delivery method for edtech content.”
Many times I’m torn between the responsibility my work brings and the thirst for intellectual challenge and entertaining social interaction. Sometimes I can mix it all together. Laura Deisley and Bud Hunt helped with that as did many others.
So, my question is…What impact does NECC have on the educators that never leave the conference floor? Many of us feel that as long as you have a computer, access to the Internet and a webcam you can open your classroom to endless opportunities. If this was the case for every classroom, that would be the end of the conference floor. Chris Lehmann – I can’t wait for Educon 2.1.