What could be better than NECC? The DEN!

Experiencing NECC for the first time this year was amazing. The presentations were top notch, the keynotes thought-provoking, and there seemed to be a million new products that I would love to have in my building. To top it all off, I got to be around the rock stars of the edtech world: Kathy Shrock, Hall Davidson, David Warlick, Vicki Davis, and Steve Dembo. Now after attending the Discovery Education National Institute, it made me realize what was missing from NECC: true collaboration.

We barely got settled in your seats, before we were grouped by regions to re-create the Discovery boom de yada commercial. Being creative wasn't much of a challenge with tech experts, art gurus, and a music teacher that brought these boom sticks. Probably the biggest challenge was to park our egos to really work together. I have to say it was nice to be a team member than the one in charge or doing the project by myself (a common occurance in my school). I got to work my language arts to rhyme, photo skills, and material collection skills.

I got to join breakout sessions on topics that I already had experience in like podcasting and digital storytelling, but it was the discussions that made it worthwhile. Now I have plans to teach digital storytelling with more flexible story design and hopefully a podcasting booth in the back of the room. There is even more excitement at the prospect of adding movie making to my course with supportive materials from AFI.

It has been five days since we parted Discovery Place, but the collaboration has not stopped. The Plurk discussions have allowed us to share ideas and support one another as we try to bring school staffs into web 2.0. It is good to know I am not alone in this battle.

School update: For those following my struggle to bring the school I work at into the 21st century, there is some good news. My principal finally tried the ning and is willing to give it a try next year. A big wOOt! The plans are underway to dedicate the first Professional Development day of the school year to technology sessions. While this will be a lot of work, I think it will be worth it.


Crossing Fingers for Change

I have gotten little done since I sent an invite to my principal to the ning I set up for my school. To defend my principal, she has always been supportive when it comes to listening to my 101 ways we can improve our school. It is a good school where learning takes places and we always make AYP (I know, I know that is not the only form of measuring school success), but I think we can be a great school. We are not the risk-takers (even though hiring me was probably a risk, one to think about) and it is a shame since we have the luxury of worrying less about testing than other schools in the region. While some of my ideas have been successful, the technology ones are the ones shot down. It is frustrating to say the least, but I have not given up yet.

In my exploration into Web 2.0, I have been in awe of all of the sources in cyberspace that could help our students construct learning. By participating in nings I witnessed open discussions that almost never happen in the usual cloud of complaining or with those staring at their watches, waiting for that last minute of the school day. I think that lack of open discussion and true collaboration maybe the reason we are not achieving greatness. That and all of those closed doors in a very large middle school. Even if the principal likes the idea, another hurdle is the staff. They never used other tools that were available to them so what will make them change?

While I want to be one of the warriors that change the current view of the classroom, I sometimes grow impatient. I am tired of holding my breath and crossing my fingers hoping that those around me buy my pitch on why this is important, necessary, or just something worth taking a risk on.


It is so Hard to Say Goodbye

Web 2.0 can be a sad place. Why you may ask? It evolves so quickly that one may have to say goodbye to tools that they love and grow accustomed too. This is my plight with Twitter.

I love Twitter, don't get me wrong. I remember the excitement of seeing my first post and actually making friends. I don't even know how many valuable resources I have bookmarked from other postings. It broke my heart to ever see that whale held up by all of the little twitter birds and was overjoyed that it worked throughout NECC. I don't want the the Twitter bird to find out that I have been cheating on him with the Plurk elephant.

At first I didn't want to like Plurk. There were the obvious flaws like the weird timeline and the difficulty of building friendships again. I didn't even use my account until after NECC and began to notice the drop in tweets. Now I have to say in a soft voice so the bird can't hear: I think I found a new love in Plurk.

Probably what I like about Plurk is the conversations. It was always difficult to have a detailed conversation in Twitter and more than once I saw tweets that said to meet up on Skype. Right now I am in a conversation about using a ning as PD and I couldn't see that happening in Twitter. While I still am checking for tweets, I see myself pulling away day by day.

If you join Plurk add thetechtiger as a friend and let the conversation begin. Warning: Don't let Karma control you!


Oh where to start with NECC 2008?

Well being the bad blogger I am, there have been no updates since the first keynote. A lot has and I am sure that I will not remember it all even months from now.


The people- I give credit to Texas teachers because they are probably the friendliest, but there have been many good impromptu discussions and some great additions to Twitter account.

The sessions-Not that every one was golden, I have learned something from each one. Of course, planning ahead of time didn't do a bit of good since I spent each evening in the hotel re-editing my choices. A particular highlight was Lucy Gray and Vicki Davis in a panel discussion! It was interesting to hear them and see their comments in chatzy.

The free stuff- No matter how much I deny it, I love getting all of the vendor free stuff. I think it is the challenge of it all since most of it I give back to teachers in school workshops.

The re-connections- I had the opportunity to really connect with some people in my district that I only had the brief opportunities to talk with before. These connections definitely have future potential.


BYOL sessions- While I would have liked to see more of these sessions, it wasn't the tragedy that many made it seem. Really any session became a BYOL session for me as I was quickly saving sites that were mentioned in discussion. When I did make it into a laptop session, I didn't enjoy as much as I thought. The pace was a little too slow for me, but was necessary to make sure everyone was one the same pace.

Lack of connection- Even though this was one of the three keywords of the convention, I don't think it took place enough. I would have liked more opportunities to share ideas with others. This feeling might only reside with me since I went to the conference alone. It seemed that most hung around those who they traveled with or those they have known before the conference. I didn't see a lot of new connections being made which is unfortunate.

Overall, I did enjoy my first NECC and hope that I can attend many more. There will be more posts on the conference, it was just to much to include in one post.