NECC Pre-Conference

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SINGULARITY of idea and thought in the metaverse is a very fragile thing. When discovered, it will  be shared, remixed and re-purposed almost immediately. The people however – are unique and to me this is why I want to be here.

It’s only the day before the great floor of commercial education-ness opens and the grand opening ceremony has been given. At NECC you can buy a Scantron or set about destroying them.


Is the day before the day before NECC begins. It’s a day in which the un-bureaucrats, un-official technology leaders and un-pioneers gather to share ideas and stories about everything from the latest Twitter client (like the world needs another visualiser) to the motivators of networked students. For many newcomers; its a chance for affirmation and discovery – and a big influence on what we see on the main NECC agenda.

It’s fast moving, combative, collegial, scary and supportive all at the same time. Its small, almost family like, where the newcomer shares a power outlet with a seasoned campaigner. There is a place here for the iPhone fanboi, the application junkie and the policy makers – its rough around the edges and driven by provocative conversation.

A clearing house of ideas, offering some resolution and clarity on the thousands of on line conversations and ideas shared online. A chance to dump, vent, engage, laugh and recharge by connecting to people.

The amazingly uber Sheryl Nusbaumm Beach

Thanks especially to Sheryl for driving over from Virginia Beach for the afternoon and leaving here guests hanging. I learn so much from you all the time, and really enjoyed the opportunity to deliver my first NECC workshop with such a well respected and influencial educator.

Here’s my initial brain dump on the first few days;

ISTE Leadership forum

I was really pleased to take part in the discussion sessions that form a part of ISTE’s future thinking and strategic planning – and always amased that I’m even asked. I look around and think ‘wow’ that’s so and so over there. It’s almost surreal at times. The group session I worked on consisted of US, Australia, Germany, Brazil, India and Portugese educational leaders – including ISTE’s CEO, Don Knezek. The session was aming to focus the big ideas, big priorities around how can we leverage technology to ensure all students have access to high quality, rigorous learning experiences.

It was a tremendous honour to be involved, and really put into perspective the recent Education AU symposium. I saw familiar faces driving some of the most insightful discussions. Australia without doubt, helps shape a great deal of educational technology leadership thinking, and are warmly welcomed – we need far greater internationalization at all levels in Australia too – and not at the government cop-opt level either. ISTE lobbys, not reports to.

Opening Keynote – Malcom Gladwell

To me, this remains one of the big problems with large conferences; the idea of the grand-show, the entry event to frame the following few days. The Twitterati were out in force; and generally I think it was a 50/50 split on good or ‘meh’. There’s no doubt he’s a good speaker and well regarded – but not at all sure about this role at NECC. To me it embedded the idea of difficulty and challenge as a deficit message that is getting old – and does not reflect the growing maturity of educational technology – in practice.

It was the anti-experience of the informed discussions I’d had had earlier with Don Knezek’s round-table.

I have real issues in putting non-edua types in front of the edu-crowd; they are entertaining; but so is Doctor Who – who is also on the telly. Stephen Heppell does not appear on light entertainment show panels, so please let’s make sure that the messages are authentic and relevant – Just show some K12 repeats, it makes better viewing.

There were a few issues I had too – Firstly, that all the teachers sit in rows and passively listen; that there are no kids involved (are they unable to tell us anything new?) and thirdly – ISTE is a BIG deal and demands singularity and new ideas as much as any TED talk.

There was a distinct lack of focus and mis-alignment with reality probably because this speech was appears to be an adaptation by the speaker. Gary Stager was quick as ever to notice and Tweet accordingly as the assembled rows chuckled and nodded in the auditorium (which could only seat half the attendees, the others were put in an overflow room to watch giant tellys and play with their finger on a stick gifts).

The Fleetwood Mac thing didn’t work for me, and lots of peolple had never heard of them. It showed a spectacular disconnect with how todays music artists (property) use advertising, branding, marketing and networks to speak to ‘true fans’  and for them reply – this is digital profile management, and not education. Godin makes a better point in Tribes about the Greatful Dead, we could just have easily watched them on the telly.

I didn’t like the references to ‘smart’ and ‘intelligence’ and much of his theory seemed very suspect in this context – which seems adaptive. We have questions to understand your audience – that’s smart and what David Warlick is doing.

You are dealing with very skilled people at NECC, and really, it’s not sufficient to re-peddle a message – as TED talks insists. Bring new ideas, new conviction – there are were many in the ‘crowd’ that could have easily delivered this level of message; why out-source not power-source.

The keynote didn’t add anything for me – apart from drive some affirmation discussion with Dean Shareski and Angela Maiers (who I’ve not talked to before, but want to again). The plus side, I got to spend some more time with Cognitive Dissonance – who are a fantastic group of educators and a stick with a plastic finger on it from the sponsor. Yey!

I regret that I could not attend the Constructavist Connection Day as well as ISTE Leadership. Timing at NECC is a huge problem for everyone. You can’t be everywhere you want to be. Right now I’m just plain tired. NECC is a mind-melt and not for the passive.

Peggy Sheehy has been saying all week “don’t rock the boat, sink it.” She’s talking about sinking it will better ideas, better ways to connect and learn. Australia really, really needs to get Peggy to ACEC 2010. Seriously.

3 thoughts on “NECC Pre-Conference

  1. I had a blast! Thanks so much for inviting me to speak with you. Let’s do it again soon. Maybe while I am in Australia in 2 weeks?? Let me know.

    My respect for you and your thinking has grown even deeper.

  2. Stallman has used the example of the grateful dead for ages, a lot of people copy and use his ideas.

    I think these people and organizations you talk about are the biggest manufacturers of proprietary knowledge I know of and thats why they create an endless list of problems for each other. I guess thats what keep them employed.

    • Thanks! I guess this is really a big issue, singularity and finding the source is increasingly time consuming and important.

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