NECC has left the city. For the last three days, the National Education Computing Conference, put on my ISTE and sponsored by CUE visited my city of San Diego. I have wanted to go for the last few years, but a variety of circumstances got in the way. This was year. As a first timer, I was amazed with the great diversity of sessions, the famous faces of the ed tech world, and the massive number of venders.
One of the major ongoing themes of the conference was the importance of Web 2.0, the read/write web. There were dozens of sessions on blogging, a number on podcasts, and a handful (mine included) on wikis. They covered logistics, specific implementations, generalized applications, and pitfalls of these new technologies. The message was clear; this is the new toolset we need to utilize. Our students are growing up in this environment, we can’t ignore that fact.
In the vender area I was surprised to see the shear number of online community services available to individual teachers and school districts. I also saw two Moodle service companies that do installations, customization, and support. What a brilliant idea. The software is free and the support from Moodle.org is free, so the only costs you have involve server space and transportation for training. Not bad. Hmmm.
I went into this conference with the idea that I might be job hunting (I even threw together a resume). As much as I love the classroom, I seem to want something more. However, after I wandered the hall for a couple hours, I realized that the corporate world, both big and small is so cut throat and so desperate for business. People were being bribed with t-shirts or the chance to win an iPod to sit through a ten-minute presentation about one product or another. As a presenter, I received about ten e-mails prior to the conference from venders wanting me to plug their product during my session. I also realized as I wandered from session to session, that the exhibitors were mostly stuck down in purgatory that was the vender hall. I ran into a few people I had known earlier in my masters program, both of them in the corporate world – they said they knew what the new ideas were, but they had no experience with it. They weren’t the ones expanding their experiences through cutting edge sessions and then applying it to their classrooms or schools or districts.
As I drove that 23 miles home today from NECC, it became clear that I would not become a corporate shill – not that there’s anything wrong with it :). If I leave the classroom, it will have to be in a way that still touches teachers and students directly.