NECC Day 4

     After a quick breakfast with DEN director Scott Kinney, I headed down to a session by Tabula Digita (“Where there’s power in numbers”), the folks who make the multi-player math game whose finals were featured live in the concourse yesterday afternoon. The teachers this morning were just about as competitive and excited as the the students I saw playing yesterday. If DesCartes only knew how much fun people would have plotting lines on his plane… On a side note, girls apparently love the game because they can compete evenly with the boys.
      During the break, I headed down to the Discovery booth and another tour of the show floor. It never ceases to amaze me how many vendors and services there are available to schools. About 1200 exhibitors were set up in Atlanta.  It was also a chance to connect with many old friends who were either working a booth or walking the floor.
      On the way back to the next session , I thought I heard Hall Davidson’s voice over a P.A. After a little investigating, I found him at the video webcast set being interviewed along with closing keynoter, Tim Tyson. It was a stroke of genius on the part of host Chris Walsh to put Hall and Tim together. They understand the power of students being able to create their own media and are eloquent proponents of its use throughout the curriculum. You can see this interview and many more at the NECC Live site.Halltyson_2

     On the way back from the interview, Hall and I peeked in on Tony Vincent’s "I Didn’t Know You Could Do That with an iPod!" session. All hype and fun music stuff aside, the iPod really is an inexpensive and powerful tool for collecting, storing and sharing a plethora of media (as Hall regularly testifies to). Now the iPhone on the other hand…
     Back to the Discovery booth, I sat in on a couple of sessions that Hall hosted. One Place looks like a very handy tool for gathering a school’s subscription resources under one log-in and search umbrella. Hall then packed the presentation area and the aisles with his take on the iPod. He very trustingly (never asked me how much time I’d take) invited me up to show a movie clip illustrating a special effect. We connected my video iPod and voilà my granddaughter and I magically reappeared from behind a tree. More on easy and free video special effects later.
     Caught one more session before the closing keynote. Old friend, Alan November, started his presentation about “Expanding the Boundaries of Learning” by polling the audience with several questions concerning the scope and ownership of a child’s education.  Fortunately, the vast majority was predisposed to his topic so he was able to challenge us to follow up on our opinions on how empowered students should be to collect, act on and share real world information. His example of how South Bronx middle schoolers were motivated to write and share their poetry by recording it onto an iPod was priceless.
     The closing session, comparing school 1.0 to school 2.0, brings me back to Tim Tyson and the great videos his school’s students produce. I was amazed when I first heard him say they had about a thousand people show up for their celebration of student work, but after seeing a few examples I can see why the whole community would be proud of what their kids can do. From the slavery involved with harvesting chocolate to just how special a special student is, make sure you take a look at some of the “Making Our World a Better Place” videos on their site.
     So another NECC is history. Since all of the Discovery team and most of the attendees took off soon after the closing, Hall and I found ourselves all alone to debrief and DIGEST before our dawn flights the next morning. If you’ve never attended a NECC, you should. Connecting with other educators, seeing presentations and exhibits on just about every aspect of using technology to teach and learn, and soaking up the ambience of another city and its people are all invigorating to the life-long learner.
     On to San Antonio next year.


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