Today is the final day of NECC 2007 in Atlanta. I wanted to take some time this morning to reflect on what I have seen and learned this week.
- Georgia Aquarium – the exhibits are amazing. The Whale Sharks are unbelievable. While I observed that it is possible to fit A LOT of people in this building, it was no where near large enough to accomodate the NECC attendees. One of my colleagues spent an hour and a half in line and never got in – not the best choice for a reception location. However, the food was good, although I thought it was a bit ironic that they chose to serve such items as shrimp and salmon in an AQUARIUM!!!!
- NETS S Refresh Release – ISTE has finally updated the NETS for Students to reflect the 21st century. I was really looking forward to this session and getting a good explanation about the new standards. Instead, I was told to look in my conference bag for the standards, which I found, and then proceeded to spend the remaining hour listening to all of the sponsors and groups talk about the PROCESS of selecting the new standards. While I am sure a good pat on the back was well deserved by all who undoubtedly worked very hard on this project, I felt cheated. I wanted to know more about the standards themselves and the rationale behind wahat was included and not included. This was glossed over. Too bad. Guess I will make something up.
- CEQALL – I was so looking forward to this session with Tom March, but it was cancelled.
- Reading Challenges in the 21st Century – Went to this instead of the March preso. Good information on some of the reading distractors learners encounter when reading on the web. These include: animations too close to the text, font selection, color choice, and so on. Good things to keep in mind when designing a page, AND when selecting sites to send students to if you want them to actually absorb the material they read. I needed to leave the session a couple of minutes early and proceeded to embarrass myself when I tried to scoot out from the middle of a row with my GIGANTIC obnoxious Best Buy bag I had been given in the Exhibit Hall. This bag is bigger than the luggage I brought. I kept knocking into people with it and getting it caught on the chairs as I tried to slip out. Only brought more attention to the fact that I was rudely leaving before the session was over. Karma….
- Exhibit Hall – WOW. This always overwhelms me. I think it is possible to spend the entire conference in this hall and still not cover everything. Gots lots of free stuff, and souveniers for my daughter. Oh yeah – met some great vendors. Lesson learned: if a vendor tries to give you a giant bag – just say NO. You will thank yourself later.
- Kathy Schrock – She amazes me. Showed off a huge number of web 2.0 sites. Many of which we could use right away in our district. I think we need to rethink how we use software currently and see where we can make some substitutions.
- Tuesday Keynote Panel – One of the highlights of the conference for me. Panel of four very different people with a common message: it is important to ask the impossible and messy questions in order to generate creative problem solving. I am taking this seriously back to my district. I am tired of spending money on the same hardware and software each year. Time to shake things up!
- David Warlick – great session. Always learn something new with him. Some things I had seen in the past year, but I love the way he communicates the redefinintion of literacy in the 21st century.
- Ian Jukes – Great thoughts on the differences between the way digital learners do things versus the way traditional educators do them.
- Vendor dinners/receptions – food was great, but more importantly the networking time is invaluable. Left last night with plans for Karen Creech from NC Dept of Public Instruction to conduct a geocaching workshop in the fall for my technology specialists – so excited!
Overall the trip was time well spent. But while I love Atlanta, the facilities were consistently inadequate for the size of NECC. Looking forward to San Antonio next year!