Reflections on the 2008 National Educational Computing Conference

It has been a few days since I returned home from the 2008 NECC conference in San Antonio, Texas, and I am just getting around to posting my reflections. I wanted to give myself a chance to think and process on what I learned before writing about it.

So, to begin, this was my first NECC conference (my school district will not pay for conferences out of state). I have attended the TCEA conference on several occasions, and, in my opinion, NECC is a vast improvement. Although TCEA is a great conference for many, I am sure, it seems to lack rigor for me. When I have attended in the past, I have not come away with many “new” ideas or tools. That being said, I did not learn a whole lot of new information at NECC either, but I did get the chance to hear from educators around the world and developed some ideas for professional development and teaching that I don’t think I would have come up with otherwise.

There were several presentations that I thoroughly enjoyed…

My favorite session was presented by Chris Lehmann, principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.  He began the session by asking the question, “What is the purpose of school?” He answered the question and then focused his session around the tenets of the book Understanding by Design. Mr. Lehmann is an outstanding presenter; he is passionate and dynamic and held my interest for the whole of the session (which is difficult to do).  I have since ordered Understanding by Design and plan on adding it to my summer reading list and hopefully incorporating some of the ideas into next school year’s professional development.

I would greatly suggest checking out the USTREAM of the session as well as the session’s wiki.

I also enjoyed Stephanie Sandifer’s session on Marzano and Web 2.0. I came away with some more ideas for professional development.  Stephanie has put together a rather extensive wiki with information about Marzano and how to effectively implement web 2.0.  I suggest giving it a look. You might also want to check out the presentation on USTREAM

The final session I attended was led by a pretty impressive panel who focused their presentation around “virtual” and collaborative professional development such as the K12 Online Conference. I particularly enjoyed that the panel illustrated what they discussed by including a panel member who was Skyped in. Check out the USTREAM of the session to learn more. After attending, I am excited for the 2008 conference to begin, and I have some new ideas for getting my staff excited about participating.

So, all in all, I was impressed with my time at NECC.  I was excited that a large portion of the sessions focused on pedagogy and professional development and not merely Web 2.0 (or other tools). I was excited to meet and talk with so many educators who are passionate about student learning, education and technology. It was interesting to get some perspectives from educators from outside of the state and to hear that educators struggle with the same issues around the world (and then to hear what they do to surmount these obstacles to education).  It was also refreshing to be around so many educators who share many of the same philosophies towards education and technology.

Next year’s NECC is supposed to take place in Washington, D.C., and if I am lucky I will be able to figure out a way to attend.

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