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« How has the read-write web impacted copyright? | Main | A long walk around DC »

The NECC lovefest to all things 2.0 reflection

Home from NECC in DC. Great to be gone; great to be home. Going to try to summarize a few thoughts about this year's giant lovefest to all things that go beep two-point-oh.

  • I can't say that I took away any real exciting ideas or products or strategies from this year's event. Might have been my choice of sessions, might be the low time on the innovation cycle, or maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention. Talked to several others who felt the same way. Google Apps for Education was the biggest product buzz going by far. Cloud-computing the buzz word.
  • If someone had presented about one more fabulous Web 2.0 or iPod tool that would make my life easier, I was going to snap and slap him. Yes, I voluntarily attended three more-or-less back-to-back sessions on gadgets, tools and such, so it is my fault. It did seem that many more people were aware of the tools being introduced as indicated by hand raising polls in session. "So how many of you are aware of Animoto." Half the room went, "Well, duh!" and the other half went, "Way cool!" Differentiated instruction for educators, anyone?
  • Scott McLeod gave the best concurrent session of the conference, talking about disruptive technologies. I believe it was recorded and will try to post the link when made available. A current that seemed to run through the conference was the anticipation/dread of social learning/educational networking being a truly disruptive technology. Some frustrated educators trying to make systemic change in their schools are viewing something disruptive as their only hope.
  • The vendor area was overwhelming and obnoxious and had an air of desperation. I was there for about an hour. There has to be a better way for commercial folks to get ISTE members excited and informed about their products and financially support the organization.
  • When will ISTE move to a paperless conference? The conference program book now outweighs my laptop. It's so bloated that finding information is difficult. Oh, vendors - the first thing that gets dumped are those catalogs and flyers in the conference bag. (And I don't even look at all those mailed flyers prior to the conference either.) Let's save some trees here, people. Seemed like everyone brought a laptop - with a high percentage of them being netbooks.
  • Lot's 'o librarians at NECC this year. We are a force thanks to the outstanding leadership of the SIGMS. Peggy, Debbie and Lisa - you are great! Chris Harris gets my vote for the most visionary speaker I heard. He promoted getting in touch with our inner "geeks" and learn how to imbed 2.0 tools like ZoHo's in our library webpages.
  • NECC 09 was "twitter-ific" with microblogging going mainstream. As a presenter, it's a bit unnerving to think the rest of the world knows you stink even before you session ends.
  • Once again, a humbling moment after my session when a young woman came up afterwards, "complimenting" me by saying that it was inspiring to see a man of my advanced years using a wiki. Good grief. Not quite as bad as being told a couple years ago that I was "lively" for a guy my age.
  • The reception at the Library of Congress on Tuesday was very nice, although we were probably the rudest audience I'd ever experienced (and they cut off the flow of wine at 7:30). The LOC gets top billing for the most beautiful interior of any building in DC, perhaps the world.
  • It was good to see reason and thoughtfulness trounce glibness and cheap shots in the Lemke/Stager debate about the need for physical schools on Tuesday morning. Buildings are tools and can be well used or poorly used, and we can all agree education - buildings, networks and approaches - all need to improve.
  • As always, seeing and visiting with friends, old and new, are the best part of NECC. And thanks to everyone who came up to say hello and tell me something that I had done was helpful or appreciated. It's a little embarrassing, but I kind of like it.

Next year NECC will be in Denver. See ya, there.

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Reader Comments (9)

Even as a virtual attender it was apparent to me that you were not the only one feeling some frustration with the same old menu of tools being trotted out again. I'm weighing the question of whether or not to attend the next NECC in person or as a virtual participant. At the moment it's a pretty even fight.

Reading blog posts about the debate has been far more entertaining than the debate itself. You are right about the building being only a tool. So how do we get people to disassociate themselves from the decades old way in which that tool has been used? I'd love to attend a session on re-purposing bricks and mortar schools, a session that gives examples of how teachers are using technology to enable students to do something they could not do otherwise with books, pens and paper.

July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLesley Edwards

Doug--as a faithful reader of your blog, I can say that you habitually write or do things that are appreciated and helpful! Thanks for your leadership! I'm glad people let you know how important you are to our community! You rock! :)

July 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjamie

Hey there I too felt something lacking in the sessions. But I was absolutely awestruck by Chris Harris. I was stunned at the sessions I went to that had text laden slides with bullets out the wazoo--I kind of thought that was addressed very well at the last NECC, but apparently these presenters missed San Antonio. I missed Scott's session, and it was one of those I had marked to attend, but had several conflicts. Sounds like I made the wrong choice, because the one i did select that conflicted was the powerpoint disaster I referred to earlier. As always one of the best parts of the conference is seeing folks f2f, and I just finished looking at some of the photos tagged NECC09, and must say I thought you looked very young in them. I know you grow out a beard for the winter there in MN, but without the facial hair, you look strikingly younger! Oh and next time our paths cross, I'm going to hold you to the dinner date at McDonald's or Burger King. I'll even pick up the tab!

It was great to finally meet you at NECC. Your presentation on copyright was excellent - a highlight of the conference for me. I share many of your same thoughts about this year's NECC, including disgust at the amount of wasted paper. I, too, walked away feeling like I really hadn't seen or heard anything really new or different.

I would add tempermental wireless access to your list of low-lights.

Anyway, I guess there's always next year!

July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Doug, I agree there was a lot of sessions on Web 2.0 but I enjoyed talking others about it and having my boss (the tech director) there to hear it will be a big plus in getting teachers onboard with things like Google Apps. I definitely felt the strain of the economy at this conference, seemed like less vendors with less giveaways and fewer sessions. I mean 2 years ago in the opening Keynote and a cocktail hour was at the Georgia Aquarium with real food, this year, Champagne and cupcakes??? I heard years back there was a sit down buffet. I also agree about the paperless point. i mean I got a free, personalized 2GB flash drive(sweet) why didn't they just load it with sessions, a map and all the paper stuff(flyers, brochures, session handouts, etc) I went to see Tammy Wocester and she had everything online from her session for us to bookmark. Maybe the ISTE people need to start following this example?? Overall it was a great conference and I hope to be able to go to Denver in 2010.

July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMr.Dee

Doug, how funny (about, you know, using wikis at your advanced age!!)!! Reminds me of being in a Radio Shack to get the kids' Xbox fixed, talking to an older account rep about it. I knew what the problem was (I'd googled it) but wanted them to handle the long-distance calls, the support, mailing the equipment, etc. since I'd paid for the service.

Anyways, the young manager walked up and said, "That's the 3 rings of death. It's classic. It has to be mailed in" and then proceeded to share exactly what the problem was in technical terms. The look on the oldster's face was hilarious. Later, when I was in the back and he was on the phone, he looks up and says, "These young guys know all the tech stuff!"

For a moment there, I didn't realize he'd included me in the "old" category. I laughed myself out to the car and have to admit, it's nice to be old and washed up. Web 2.0 tools? Honestly, who cares?


Sitting down now,


July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel Guhlin

Doug, you seem ageless to me! I always read your blog first to find out what you are thinking. Thanks for your support of SIGMS--I look forward to a future when school librarians are routinely included in all things educational, including collaborative planning, conferences, and, most importantly, budgets. I agree with you that some NECC sessions were not worth sitting through, and I admit that I walked out of a few. How do we remedy this? Should proposals include a video of the presenter speaking?

July 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Creighton


I was bummed that I didn't get to go this year, but felt somewhat the same way last year - nothing new.

But; is NECC for trotting out all the new stuff for all the early adapters or is it for highlighting educational technology integration for "everyday" educators. Maybe going to NECC every year is the problem not the lack of anything new.

Just wondering, I have questions but rarely have the answers.

July 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie Stafford

Hi Lesley,

I agree that the comments about the debate were more interesting than the debate. The way the economy is going, there may be many more of us attending virtually in the future.

Thanks for the comment,


Thanks, Jamie. I appreciate the kind words!


Thanks, Cathy Jo. It was fun seeing you and I agree Chris was the most visionary speaker I heard.

I know the beard makes me look ancient, but I sure like not having to shave!


Hi Mike,

Thanks for introducing yourself at NECC. Nice group at my session. I always like a little push-back!

I guess the wireless problems were a mixed blessing for me. When the wireless was off, I paid attention to the speaker instead of my twitters!

All the best and thanks for the kind words,


Hi Mr. Dee,

I am guessing we are reaching the tipping point of everyone coming to NECC with some kind of device that can read an electronic program. My guess is that the advertisers might be the ones who still insist on paper???

Maybe in a couple years we'll all get a pre-load netbook with the conference program!

Yeah, the cupcakes didn't do it for me either.

Thanks for the comments,


HI Miguel,

"Old" is anyone born 15 years or more before you were. Get used to it.


Hi Peggy,

Well, you are the only person that looks younger each year!

You've done an outstanding job with SIGMS. I think people like to work for and with successful groups!

As a conference program chair for state conferences, it is darned hard to put together a program that meets everyone's needs 100%. My guess is that some people loved some of the sessions I didn't like, and vice versa.

All the best and thanks for the comment,


Hi Debbie,

Thanks for joining us at the SIGMS business meeting. Pretty cool to do this international communication.

You make a good point that the conference shouldn't be just for the early adapters, but for those implementing as well.

Hope you are having a great summer,


July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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