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« A day of conversations | Main | When less is more »

NECC presenters - you better be good

Scott McLeod over at Dangerously Irrelevant just admitted to walking out of a bad workshop.

Scott, what took you so long and why even think even for a second it might be wrong?

Scott's post is timely. I'm heading for NECC in a couple hours where I'm hoping to see some world-class presentations and keynotes. And may I stress "world-class." I have no idea what the ratio of submitted presentations is to the number accepted, but I'll bet it is at least 10:1.

I pay my own way to NECC*. That's $250 for airfair, $280 for registration, $500 for the hotel, and a couple hundred bucks for meals. Add to that airport parking, transport to the MSP airport and back, public transit at the location, and other expenses and this five day experience sets me back well over $1000. Money that could have been well-spent in other ways - like getting a new motor for my pontoon boat.

After laying out those kinds of bucks, my expectations are damn high. I expect both cutting-edge, meaningful content AND effective teaching strategies in every session. Like Scott, creating better sessions at conferences is serious study for me. And I've written about the topic before:

Quite frankly, I am especially appalled when educators show a lack of teaching skills at conferences dedicated to improving education. My expectations would be more modest were I attending a conference for, say, CPAs or dentists.

Oh, and please hold me to my own standards if you come to my session next Wednesday. I mean it.

*Even before out of state travel was banned for budget reasons in our district, I paid my own way. (Except when I was on the ISTE Board when I was comped.) Personally, I think all educators should always be required to pay part of confence attendance costs - have a little skin in the game as the saying goes. A friend of mine who attends conferences for people who supply equipment to events reports that everyone attends sessions there and that the session are good and attributes this to the fact that everyone is paying his/her own way. I'd tend to agree.

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Reader Comments (6)

Well said, Doug. My wife and I are looking forward to NECC this year. There are so many sessions that sound good so I rank the ones I am interested in going to and give the top one 5-10 minutes to get and hold my attention. If it doesn't I am out of there. Too many sessions, not enough time.

June 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRick Paula

Hi Rick,

Hope your NECC was good. I walked out of a couple sessions, but most were pretty good. I don't think I need to be introduced to any more Web 2.0 tools for a few years!


July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Good point about paying your own way and "investing" in it. I'm curious, when you pay your own way, do you also have to take a vacation/nonwork day to go to a conference? or can you pay your own way and go on work time? If you'd rather not answer this publicly, you can email me too. Thanks for your time.

July 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJanine Lim

Hi Janine,

I don't mind answering this one in public. I do count the days I attend conferences and workshops as contract days (those that I attend but not those I give, of course). As an admin, I don't need a sub so I have a little more flexibility than classroom teachers.

All the best,


July 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Doug, it's refreshing to hear someone talk about their standards when discussing sessions. I've never thought that way at all - I just wanted them to be "good." I enjoyed NECC for the second year in a row. I was hoping to connect with you briefly this year to pick your brain about improving my school library. Maybe next year. Thanks for continuing to share great information and frequently make me think about my practice.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChad Lehman

HI Chad,

Hope to you get to Denver next summer. Please, introduce yourself and we'll visit.

Thanks for the comment,


July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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