NECC 2006: Second Day

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I’m sitting at the airport in San Diego waiting for the red-eye flight as I’m writing this (will post it once home). Today was intense, but great. Even though I missed Negroponte’s speech, I’m sure I’ll find plenty of blogs about it. I did manage to make it to the ubiquitous computing session, which I blogged about earlier (it was pretty stressful, but an interesting experience. I actually paid more attention to the presentation, even though I was frantically typing, scrolling, and trying to add hyperlinks). It was an interesting session, even though I don’t agree with the way in which ubiquitous computing was defined. It’s a term that gets thrown around a little bit too easily sometimes, like 1:1. The danger in this is that it will get a connotation it does not deserve.

My first presentation went very well. I probably had between 80-100 attending, much more than I had anticipated. One of the key things for me that came out of this presentation is that it’s sooooo important that we don’t focus on specific tools, but rather what we do with it (unlike many of the venders at NECC). We had a similar discussion at the SIGHC meeting, more about that in a bit. We should also give our kids more credit for what they know and do with technology, instead of just banning stuff outright without giving it a chance (think MySpace, blogging, cell phones, IM). It’s one of the reasons why we have to start thinking seriously about how our educational system needs to change fundamentally in order to prepare our kids for what lies ahead in their lives. So many of the jobs they get prepared for are no longer available in the US, while the higher skilled engineering jobs can’t be filled because we are not preparing our kids for those (I got some examples about this from one of my colleagues in
Alabama).

In between sessions I spent some time at the trade show, hooking up with people I hadn’t seen in a while, some I hadn’t seen since NECC last year. I talked to Martha Rolley about her switch from Palm to Apple, and what may be in store for the next iPods. I also talked ot the Turning Technologies folks from Youngstown, OH, as they are supporting RCET in some of the research we are doing on student response systems. I visited the Inspiration booth and was pleasantly surprised to find that they are trying to resurrect the old TERC software with their release of InspireData. It looks really promising (and of course I want a handheld version). I passed by the Lego Education booth to get my Lego pins, a yearly ritual, although their setup wasn’t as good this year. While visiting the GoKnow booth I talked with their European “celebrity” Graham Brown-Martin. We talked about how many of the booths are set up to look like traditional classrooms even though they feature new technologies, and Graham promptly proceeded to take some pictures (and a funny/sarcastic post on his forum is sure to follow soon).

The second session was not as heavily attended but fun, trying to juggle a video connection with the primary presenter, Tom McNeal, a PowerPoint presentation with videos in it, and two channels of sound which didn’t always cooperate. All in all it went well though, and attendees seemed to be very interested, even though what we are trying to do with cell phones is still pretty limited, given the tools we have to work with.

The SIGHC business meeting was riveting as always, with vocal attendees such as Elliot Soloway, Cathie Norris, Graham Brown-Martin, and Mike Curtis. The meeting was well attended. Key issues we need to address soon are:

  • The SIGHC name. We need to consider changing the name to something that better fits what we are all about, especially given the near explosion of devices such as iPods, portable gaming devices, and cell phones. Somehow the name needs to evoke mobility and “personalness” of the technology we are dealing with. In addition, Graham mentioned (and see this earlier blog post), that maybe we need to think about it in terms of people being mobile, and not the technology. It’s an idea I really like, although I think that to some extent we will still have mobile devices, whatever they may look like.
  • Becoming more visible and vocal, especially with regards to the online tools we use. It’s amazing how hard it is to use the web tools we have been given by ISTE, considering ISTE is a TECHNOLOGY organization. We are considering the use of blogs and wikis to provide more opportunities for collaboration and sharing. In addition, we need to figure out some ways to become more visible at local, regional, and international handheld and mobile computing conferences, definitely through presentations, and maybe through sponsorships and other types of support.li>

All in all I had a great time today, even though I wish I could have spent another day at the conference networking and attending sessions. I hope people attending my sessions learned something they can take with them and apply in their daily work as/with teachers. Marge and Rolly, thanks for wanting to take a picture with me, I was flattered. That was definitely a first. 🙂 Now it’s on to my 11 hour trip back to Cleveland…

Technorati tags: NECC, NECC 2006, SIGHC

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