Jul 7, 2006

NECC 2006 Wrap-Up

NECC 2006 has come to a close, and all in all, I believe it was quite a success. ISTE did a great job of organizing and planning the events, with plenty of options for every interest and skill set. If there was one criticism I have of the conference, it would be that there should be a bit more scrutiny of the sessions, and that the schedule needs to be reduced to specific tracks in key interest areas. Wading through 20-25 session options on overlapping time schedules during any given hour was a bit unnerving at times. Fewer, more focused sessions with proven speakers along track lines would be a big improvement.

Yesterday, Mike and I participated in a BOF (birds of a feather) session with some of the leaders in open technologies in education, as well as a large number of teachers and other education leaders with a variety of backgrounds and interests in the topic. We were also thrilled to be joined by Indiana DOE's Special Assistant for Technology, Michael Huffman, who is leading an ambitious one-to-one desktop initiative across the state of Indiana, using Linux and open-source software. We were treated to a lively discussion about their unique approach to one-to-one computing, and how effective open-source desktops have been in their various pilots.

On Friday morning, Mike and I were invited to join a focus group on open technologies hosted by the SIIA and CoSN. CTOs from districts ranging in size from 150 to 120,000 were represented, and discussed a variety of questions presented to us from about 50 software company representatives who were also in attendance. This was followed by my presentation in the open source lab on Elgg (which is the software we use for the SUSD Teacher Community,) and how it can be used to create open, collaborative environments in schools. We had a great turnout.

Events like these are important forums for educators to learn and share ideas on enhancing the educational environment through the effective use of technology. If you have the opporunity to attend one in the future, I would highly recommend it.


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