NECC 2006 to ISTE 2010: times are still a-changing

For this first time since mid-day Friday, I’m home without a to-do list for Leadership Bootcamp or ISTE. It was an amazing and sometimes interesting six days. I’ll definitely sleep well tonight. Before my thoughts drift too far from the conference, however, I wanted to capture things that struck me.

Leadership Bootcamp, a collaboration between Colorado TIE and ISTE, took place on Friday night and Saturday and was a wonderful experience to be a part of. I was honored that I was included in a powerful, focused, grassroots effort such as this. What I realized is that we need more informal learning opportunities such as Leadership Bootcamp, Learning 2.0, and EduCon; these somewhat spontaneous gatherings based on common interests are the natural way humans learn. Though I think the day could have ended an hour earlier, the 40 minute sessions were perfect and I so much appreciated connecting with some of our brightest thinkers in education.

ISTE was also a great networking opportunity and I enjoyed seeing many old friends. I very much appreciated the informal learning and connecting spaces the conference provided, as well as the robust and ubiquitous wireless…KUDOS, ISTE, for that!

My one big turn-off: raffles, which only serve to cheapen the event. I realize that teachers don’t get a lot of perks (this is coming from someone whose first annual salary was $18,000 in Boca Raton, FL), but when a conference becomes more about gathering pens and waiting for an iPad give-away, it becomes less about connecting and learning. On Monday, I would ask people if they were having a good conference and “awesome” was a word I heard most often. By today, that word had become “overwhelming.” Perhaps, as an exhibitor, my experience was a little more jaded that those who spent less time in the exhibit hall.

Two overarching thoughts that emerged from these experiences:

1. Technology, with the right PD, improves the practices that we know lead to deeper learning, such as varied student grouping, having choices in showing evidences of learning, having a variety of modes of gathering and learning information. Technology itself will likely never show direct impact on learning anymore than paper, pencils, and clay tablets have.

2. Face-to-face time, at least occasionally, is essential for human relationships.

I’ll close with this one long-lost activity that I recently unearthed and found amusing: this is a collaboration on a diagram with help from David Warlick and Vinnie Vrotney (long before I knew and fully appreciated their work). I blogged about the upcoming NECC 2006 conference in San Diego and how I was using this new “web 2.0” to change how participants accessed resources and links. Warlick and Vrotney read the post and graciously helped me fill this in. I love looking at where our thinking was in 2005 and seeing early evidence of what was to come.

gliffy diagram

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