Friday, July 03, 2009

NECC Reflections: The Good, The Bad, and The Untouchables

I just returned from the best conference I have ever attended (and I have been to a LOT of really great conferences!). ISTE's NECC conference is, by far, the best out there. I learned so much, and was able to meet some of the coolest people EVER - Mitchel Reznek from MIT and Alice Christie of Geocaching fame (to name just a few). I also had the chance to meet some buddies from Second Life!

But, I am an uber nerd, so I wanted to use my time to learn about concepts that would be useful to the teachers and students here at Hotchkiss. And, as much as I would have LOVED to play with SL in the SL lounge, I never actually made it there! I was off learning about how to use NASA's tools and MIT's Scratch Ed and the Library of Congress and US National Archives and these cool funky microscopes that are TOTALLY rockin. I spent some time at the vendors, but didn't even get 1/3 of the way through the 5 football fields worth of them. I listened to my favorite speaker in all of Christendom (well one of them), Alan November, while volunteering as a NECC "Ask Me" person.

I LOVED LOVED LOVED the poster sessions the most. I learned all sorts of things and gathered ideas to share with my colleagues at Hotchkiss. The student presentations were just fabulous, and it was great to see teenagers all engaged by teaching drooling adults! I did a poster session for the first time, too, and OMG, they are a bit harder than straight presentations! They are longer, for one, and my booth was busy from start to finish. This very sweet woman came to meet me, and she says she follows the blog, and it was such an honor to meet her and to hear how much she appreciates the work we do at Literature Alive! Truly, Eloise and I don't get a paycheck from our work with Lit Alive! so it always helps to know that people appreciate the work we do in SL. It was just so great to meet her!

There wasn't much I didn't like about the conference itself; it is REALLY well organized. The conference committee needs a totally huge medal and fully stocked bar, as they did a tremendous job putting it all together. The convention center in DC is nice, but the food was expensive and crappy.

There was only one thing that really put me off, though, and it has little to do with the conference itself. I have heard echoes of this in other blogs about how the "in crowd" is really kinda snooty. There is a group of EduTechPeeps (for lack of a better label), that think that their words, their blogs, their "projects", are the best out there, and they spend all their time talking about how great they are and how important they are, and they don't spend any time listening to other really great (but unknown) peeps, and they certainly don't pause for 12 seconds to offer friendly advice or mentoring. Sadly, I saw it over and over as people tried to introduce themselves to the self-appointed "Masters" and were given the cold shoulder-nod thing. PUHHHHHLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZE. Rebel me...I didn't even bother. I have read their blogs and tweets, and, trust me, they are only interested in hearing themselves pontificate. They couldn't hear you if you were playing a bass drum AND a stand of pipes. They can only hear the clamour of their puffed up egos.

The bottom line is students. Period. If there is too much ME ME ME going on, no one is worrying about what the students are learning. I simply walk away and find the people who are saying THEM THEM THEM. Take up your hiking stick, and join the trek!


IMC Guy said...

I think this is a pretty honest comment, and one I sort of felt last year when I attended NECC for the first time. There were the "experts" I was intimidated by - even though others who knew them they said there great people. Over the past year, however, I think my thoughts have changed. I still think there is a very small number of people who think they are the almighty, but the others who I thought that of last year, are not. Over the last year I conversed more on Twitter and posted comments on blogs with some of the people I think you're talking about. This year was different for me, they were friendly, chatted with me a bit, and it gave me a different experience. Perhaps that might happen in your case, if you want it to.

Scott McLeod said...

Hi Beth,

I'm sorry that you had this type of experience at NECC. There was this kind of talk after last year too. That's why I wore my goofy LED button that said 'Please say hi!' and why I tried as hard as I could to spend some time with anyone who actually did.

With rare exception, I have found the edublogger crowd - even the 'top names' - to be pretty accessible. If we're lost in our thoughts or talking with others, please feel free to engage us. What I saw at the Blogger's Cafe were a bunch of folks hanging out, trading thoughts, sharing stories, brainstorming ideas, and generally enjoying each other's company.

It was great to finally meet you in DC! If you're at NECC next year, let's spend more time together than we did this year! said...

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