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« A second Thanksgiving Day | Main | Notes from NECC »

Notes from NECC 2

Last day of the the Great Lovefest to All Things That Go Beep, or as sometime referred to, NECC. It seems like it's been a whirlwind with little time for reflection, but I want to jot down a few take-a ways before they fly away.

Most badly needed conference technology
A device that makes sure name badges are always hanging so the name is showing. I liked it better before lanyards. Or when my ability to link names and faces was better. 

Best simple idea
If you want to get teachers using online resources with kids, cut their Xerox budgets.

Intriguing thought
Brazillain schools are not directly providing Internet connectivity. Instead each student gets wireless (via cell phone) access for $6 a month. Hmmmm, personal computing/communication devices and personal networks. What WILL schools be spending tech dollars on? How will we control the little darlin's activities online? What will my job as tech director be? Too cool.

Biggest personal doubt
I've long argued for combined AASL/NETS student standards. But does a diversity of standards from which to pick and choose make for better state/local standards?

Blown away by
2.5 Librarian Anita Beaman's demonstration of how novels can be supported, extended and interacted with online. (Slideshow here.) I guess I knew a lot of this, but seeing it all in a few minutes was amazing.

Discovered too late
Free coffee in the presenters' room. Rats.

Person who best lives up to his online persona
It was a genuine pleasure to meet Miguel Guhlin for the first time in person. I knew from his writing he he would be funny and brilliant, but he is also a genuinely nice man. And far more shy than I would have imagined. Supper last night with him, Scott McLeod, Cathy Jo Nelson, Wes Fryer, and the LWW was a conference highlight. (He was taking, not in, this picture.)

Best new gizmo
Didn't see any must have's. But then I spent very little time in the vendor area this conference.

Most informative session
Cheryl Lemke from the Metri Group shared tons of research and implications about technology's impact on education. I can' wait to dig into her promised support materials. That I am sure I will blog about later.

Nod to mortality
The most exciting voices in the field coming from people the age of my children. Sigh...

Most abused session format
The panel. As both perp and victim of several panels this conference, I am convinced there need to be some guidelines. Too many talking heads pontificating ad hoc, ad nauseum, off-topic. There must be a better way. Ideas? I need to think more about this.

Best new session format
The mini-session at the Edublogger area. I spent a very enjoyable and informative hour visiting with just a handful of other tech directors talking about problems and solutions. (Including one of my favorite bloggers, Tim Stahmer of Assorted Stuff.)

New personal requirement
If a session presenter hasn't gotten to a point in the first 10 minutes, I walk. Am I applying the same attention triage that I apply to blog reading now to conference sessions?

Must read book
Suriwiki's Wisdom of Crowds. But several good ones mentioned in the Librarans 2.5 panel too, including Change the Way You See Yourself.

Biggest tease
"You're blog entries are too long."

That being said...

Thanks to everyone from whom I learned at length or in brief. It is indeed exciting and humbling to be a co-learner. 


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Reader Comments (11)


I like your take-aways. I think I need to move to Brazil. On February 7 I "pontificated" on schools spending money on students through a partnership with local cell phone venders.

read it here if you like

I have an idea for a different approach to Panels I would like to see (even though I wasn't at NECC). The TED Talk format of giving people 15 minutes to "do their thing." It could be scheduled (but yuck). My idea would be for presenters to sign up before the conference (as they do if the want to present a "real" session). The difference would be, first-come-first-served would fill the schedule. A room could be set aside for the length of the conference. This also might meet your 10 minutes or walk criteria.

I keep reading Tweets, blogs, and getting the impression that many attenders learn more from the hallway conversations. This would be like bringing the hallway into a room. You might even find great speakers who aren't the "big names." How democratic, huh?

Anyway, thanks for your takes.


July 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRic Murry


I too really enjoyed the tech director unplugged chat. It is always reassuring to hear that we are all facing similar challenges and are all creatively working to meet the needs of teachers and kids.


July 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHank

"I liked it better before lanyards."

So do a bunch of us, which is why ALA, for one, always has a box of "regular" badgeholders available for those who want them and ask for them--that is, the old style with a safety pin/clip combination, great for clipping on your shirt or jacket pocket. And they always face forward...

(I hate lanyards. I've spoken at conferences where I've resorted to using an oversize paperclip to avoid the lanyard...)

As for listening more than 10 minutes to a speaker who hasn't made a point: Isn't life too short?

July 2, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterwalt crawford

Clever, witty and personable, just like your real life persona. It was a pleasure to see you. (I don't see "meet" since we meet often on your blog).

July 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDean Shareski

I enjoyed the alfresco discussion as well. It was nice to find a relatively quiet space.

As to the name tages, I was thinking we should require bloggers to wear a reproduction of their site. It would make it much easier to match faces and names (or at least domain names :-)

Hope you'll be able to visit our end of the world next June.

July 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTim

I like the format of this recap. Fun. Breezy. Miscellaneous. That said, "Best Simple Idea" oughtta be retitled "Best Indication That [Whoever Pitched That One] Is Too Far Removed From Classroom Teaching For [His/Her] Own Good."

Likelier than this cheerful migration online, which the author envisions, is a lot of grumbling, ending if and only if the administration accedes funds.

I mean, carrots over sticks. Every time, right?

July 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDan Meyer

Nicely written Doug!

Although,I would hardly call your blog entries too long. I can point to plenty around the very rooms you have been inhabiting the last few days to make that point!

Travel safely and I am sorry we didn't get a chance to connect face to face.


July 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Torris

I like your best "simple idea." It's super environmentally friendly. If teachers that have the access to online education still use paper to teach their students, I think they need to be seriously reprimanded, maybe even put in jail for a day. Well, OK, maybe that's a bit on the harsh side, but in the spirit of educational progress, I think teachers must find reasons to use the internet and software for educational purposes. Think outside the box. On the internet, you can reverse your work almost always, and do it instantaneously without damaging the environment. On paper, you can scribble over it or erase it, but eventually you will have to ask for another sheet of paper. Webpages provide a heck of a lot more info than sheet pages. The return from purchasing internet programs and software will be noticeable within the first day you use it. It's a worthy investment.

July 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterL C

Doug, seen this photo?

Take care,

July 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel GUhlin

Well since we did a panel--on the last day no less--and you were there until the end...I suppose our panel was worthy. I'll take that as a nod of approval.

During our session, David Loertscher came in, and so i tweeted his presence, and I was shocked and amazed that about a third of the room turned to look--meaning they were in the back-channel with us. That was an OMG moment for me.

Lanyards will never be the perfect device--I'll be glad to see them go away too. Had we had the nice tier sponsored badge holders it would not have been an issue. I liked those kind, as I did not need a purse with that lanyard, even though it was clunky and cumbersome to a degree.

EGADS! Make our badge resemble our blog? I don't have an eye-catching blue skunk riding on my blog. Of course we all know you are a "stinker" at times, and so the blue skunk would be very appropriate for your badge. Wonder what a metaphorical curmudgeon looks like? Me thinks it probably bares resemblance to a skunk....

Thanks again for coming to our panel discussion session AND not bailing on us.

July 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Nelson

@ Ric,

Enjoyed the blog post. I had been thinking about kids bringing in cell phone enabled web browsers, but had not thought about making that the primary means of connectivity. It certainly bears further thought. Do you think parents would be willing to accept responsibility for their own children's appropriate use???

The TED talk idea is fantastic and I will share it with next year's NECC organizers. I rarely hear a panel "discussion" anyway and this seems to be the best of both worlds.

Thanks for the great ideas.


@ Thanks, Henry. I wish I had written down the names of everyone there since everyone contributed.

Thanks for the note,


@ Walt,

To be fair, the badge do-hickies did offer the ability to clip or pin the badges to one's person. (Ouch!) Now if I could just get OTHERS to do it ;-)


@ Thanks, Dean. The pleasure was certainly mutual. I really enjoyed the small discussion (I hesitate to call it a panel now.)

All the very best,


Oh, and I have to look up that word curmudgeon. I'm taking it as a compliment.

@ Tim,

I am not sure the blog reproduction would help me since I usually read most everything in my reader. We might all look like a GoogleReader feed!

I'm sure NECC will be on my calendar next year. Now that I am off the ISTE Board, I need to find other ways to make trouble. I mean contribute.

All the best,


@ Dan,

Your comment will be fodder for another blog post since it is worth considering at greater length. Thanks for posting it since I am sure it reflects the opinions of a great many working educators.

All the best,


@ Andy,

Thanks. Enjoy your summer state-side and let's make a point next NECC to have dinner.


@ LC,

As I suggested to Dan above, this negative incentive needs some reflection. Your ideas will be a part of that. Thanks.

All the best,


@ Miguel,

Great photo except for the ugly guy in the middle. May I include it on my blog?


@ Cathy,

I enjoyed your panel very much and hope you didn't feel my criticism of panels in general was directed at Librarians 2.5. Perhaps my biggest complaint about Librarians 2.5 was that it only whetted my appetite for hearing more from each of you. We only got the appetizers and not the main course.

It was fun seeing David there. The man is a god!

Great supper on Monday night. Glad you and the LWW were there to help dilute the testosterone at the table.

All the best,


July 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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