NECC 2008 – If we don’t like NECC Unplugged, we can change it

Jeff Utecht said:

I’m worried these type of get out the tools and play sessions where we are all learning and teaching will be forced out of the Blogger’s Cafe. They are unplanned, unscripted, great discussions around tools, ideas, and just plain old good fun.

Vinnie Vrotny said:

I believe that there is a place for NECC Unplugged and people being able to have quick shares. Bur I do believe that the scheduled nature of this venture, while being created for all of the right reasons, is keeping those who may be late to the party, the ability to share.

I guess I am advocating for a rallying call to arms, a reclaiming of the Blogger’s cafe space. Like Travis, Crockett, and Bowie, and the other Texans, many whose statues are in the hallway right outside of the Blogger’s Cafe,  I am willing to defend the turf from the invasion and instrusion in order to allow for those, who like me, just want a place for informal learning and reflection. Anyone want to join?

My thoughts

  1. Many of us enjoyed the conversations on Saturday, even with the boom mikes and camera crews.
  2. I’m glad that Jeff and others ‘voted with their feet’ and found spaces and times where their conference needs could be met. I know that I’ve had a blast interacting with Jeff, Vinnie, and others in our informal settings.
  3. I thought the Blogger’s Cafe today was fabulous. I don’t know what NECC Unplugged is going to do that atmosphere, but we can always decide as a group to dump it or move it if need be. I liked your [Jeff’s] note that we could’ve taken better control of Edubloggercon but didn’t. If we need it, we have a second chance on Monday and/or Tuesday! [left as a comment on Jeff’s blog]

In other words, if NECC Unplugged isn’t working for us, we don’t have to see it to its conclusion. We can adapt on the fly. Isn’t that one of our strengths as a group?

One final note: A lot of people in the Blogger’s Cafe today weren’t interacting with anyone. They were typing away or simply resting and watching. I’m guessing that many weren’t even bloggers but were simply conference attendees who found an open seat. We have to be cognizant of this too. Although Vinnie and Jeff don’t fall into this camp, there may be folks who prefer the more structured approach of NECC Unplugged instead of a more free-for-all conversation.

NECC 2008 – SIGTC Forum

I attended the SIGTC Forum, run by Ferdi Serim, on Sunday for about an hour. SIGTC is ISTE’s special interest group for technology coordinators. Two things from the session that troubled me…

1. No recognition of principals as instructional leaders

Ferdi outlined five different roles that needed to be involved in discussions about teaching and learning:

  • Guide (teacher leader) – knows about designing learning experiences; has daily experience with children
  • Scholar (librarian / media specialist) – knows about research, organizing knowledge
  • Hard Hat (technical specialist) – knows about hardware, software, and networks
  • Pilot (principal) – knows about managing people, schedules, and budgets
  • Wizard (technology / curriculum coordinator) – knows about managing systems and processes; at district level

Notice the emphasis on the managerial roles of principals. Nary a mention of the instructional leadership responsibilities of building-level leaders. Very disappointing.

2. The equity trap

There was some discussion about digital equity. Specifically, there seemed to be a fair amount of agreement in the group that – when it comes to digital technologies or whatever – if we don’t have enough for everybody, we can’t do it at all because of the complaints from the folks that don’t receive it.

How are we ever going to move forward if this is the mentality of our school organizations?

Other notes from the session

Cisco white paper: Equipping every learner for the 21st century

21st century pedagogy to teach 21st century skills which is enabled by technology and supported by adapted system reform

The goal is to move from automation to facilitation to transformation

Desired educational technology outcomes will occur only if they are supported by the entire system

Gartner’s hype cycle

  1. Technology trigger
  2. Peak of inflated expectations
  3. Trough of disillusionment
  4. Slope of enlightment
  5. Plateau of productivity

Sources of information on emerging technologies

NECC 2008 – Edubloggercon

I haven’t been to NECC in years so I was really jazzed to be able to come this year to San Antonio. I came in with no agenda; my plan was to simply soak it all in at Edubloggercon. I think I did a good job of that.

On Saturday I met a TON of people – old blogging friends, famous blogging friends, new blogging friends – the whole works. It was great to finally meet some people with whom I’ve interacted regularly. It was equally as fun interacting with new folks that I’d never met before. I now have a bunch of new blogging buddies. I appreciated everyone who went out of their way to come say hello. Folks have been very kind and gracious here.

Many people were Tweeting, blogging, etc. yesterday. I didn’t even touch my laptop until the end of the day. Too many conversations!

My favorite moments of Edubloggercon

Some interesting posts about Saturday

I don’t share many of the concerns that others expressed. Although Pearson’s filming was a bit intrusive at times, it didn’t bother me so much, even when I was facilitating. Mostly I just had a great time. I think Vinnie’s got it right – growing pains that we’ll have to work through for next year (when Edubloggercon’s even bigger!)…

Some Edubloggercon pictures from my NECC Flickr set

Laura, Will, and Sheryl
Jim and Tim
Ewan, Jeff, and Chris
Dean and others
Steve and Tim

Ed tech quarantine?

Quarantined_2 [cross-posted at the TechLearning blog]

This is a picture of the Mobile Quarantine Facility built by NASA for astronauts returning from the Moon. It’s basically a modified Airstream trailer. The idea was to isolate the astronauts until it was determined that they didn’t have ‘moon germs.’ Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins stayed in this quarantine trailer for 65 hours after their return to Earth (Welcome back, heroes. Get in this trailer!).

Of course my pathetic brain saw this and immediately started thinking about educational technology. How sad is that?!

This MQF (gotta love those government acronyms!) got me thinking about whether we technology early adopters need a self-imposed moratorium on talking about new technology tools, at least in certain settings. One of the most common refrains heard from teachers or administrators who listen to us talk or blog about all of these new cool tools is “Why do I care about this as an educator?” In our eagerness to share our nearly-palpable glee and excitement, we often struggle to adequately answer the “So what?” question in ways that are substantive and meaningful to the average teacher or administrator.

So when a new tool comes out – TwitterDiigo, whatever – maybe we should hold off for a bit before we start blabbing to educators who don’t live as close to the ed tech edge as we do. Maybe we should voluntarily follow a process that looks something like this:


I believe that an emphasis on pilot testing, experimentation, and identification of both mainstream educator use(s) and optimal training mechanisms before introduction to other educators often would help us quite a bit. Instead of turning off the very educators that we want using many of these tools, some time spent in the ed tech quarantine might go a long way toward facilitating our overall goal of greater technology adoption in K-12 classrooms.

I don’t know if I’ve gotten the quarantine process exactly right. And of course many of you already do some version of this. But I think this is a concept that generally should be kept closer to the forefront of our brains. What do you think?