First published July 4, 2009
NECC 2009 (National Education Computer Conference) in Washington, D.C. this past week was the most upbeat and positive education meeting I’ve attended in some time. No doubt the anticipated impact of federal stimulus funds was the source of some of the optimism, but there was real electricity in the air as virtual colleagues from formal and informal professional learning groups and Twitter met in person after building online relationships over the past year. This was an interesting phenomena, not because it hadn’t happened before, but that it had so significantly increased its frequency that you could not walk very far without seeing or overhearing an enthusiastic meeting of virtual friends. The number of like-minded people breaking through school and district walls to find and collaborate with each other virtually will most certainly continue to increase creating additional learning opportunities for educators and students.
There was not one breakthrough technology that dominated NECC conversation. In fact, the greatest energy surrounded the battle of the interactive white boards. The inherent challenges in helping educators utilize white boards as more than a chalkboard replacement are detailed in this post from Lee Wilson who focused on a publisher’s comparison of the two leading companies – SMART and Promethean.
Another favorite topic centered on the challenges in engaging students with technology when we have them power down all their devices when they cross the school building threshold. Among the ed-tech community there is general agreement about the need to incorporate more virtual learning opportunities for students everywhere, but the challenges of championing a new learning model are manifold in schools and districts across the country.
Kudos to ISTE (International Society of Technology in Education) sponsors of NECC, for the integration of audio, video, and social media into the conference including an ISTE Connects blog that was launched in January. Keynoter Malcolm Gladwell wrapped up his presentation with a challenge to educators to use their energy, enthusiasm and creativity to make their individual learning environments as meaningful as possible.