A Bucket of Drops….

I’m finally grounded again, sitting in my office, too early in the morning, with some nagging issues on my mind. ..and I wish that I could cause them to jell in my head so that I knew what I’m getting ready to write about. I guess I’m hoping that writing will cause it all to make sense.

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The first thing I did, when I got up (afterchecking my Twitter listing), was to run a quick search on Technorati for the number of blog posts that mention NECC 2007 and compare them to mentions of NECC 2006. I searched for occurrances of necc06, necc2006, necc07, and necc2007. These, I reason, would pull up blog entries that are likely tagged, assuming that these are more sophisticated bloggers. As a second thought, I also search for blogs that mention “NECC 2006” and “NECC 2007” to include bloggers who are not yet tagging their entries.

As you can see, the blogging activity increased pretty significantly this year.  I suspect that there are a variety of reasons.  More educators are blogging, and many more opportunities to blog were available to us in Atlanta.  It was certainly a conference that shined like no other, as it has already reached position 35 on Hitchhikr’s sorting of visited conference pages (the #1 position held by NECC 2006).

Just a picture that I took in Charleston.  Lots of energy.

But I think my itch started with Steve Dembo’s June 28 Twitter..

Ok, I need feedback on this one. If EduBloggerCon and the Bloggers Cafe was the best part of NECC… Do we (bloggers) need NECC to do it?

and I very glibly replied

…i think we need necc. i also think necc needs us.

I just watched Chris Walsh’s NECC live wrap-up with ron Cravey, Donella Evonluk, Anita McAnear, and Linda Whitacre.  It was mentioned that there were almost 20,000 educators in attendance in Atlanta.  They were teaching, learning, conversing, and taking oh so much home with them —

and compared to that, we (bloggers) are just a cult. 

I think that what we are doing is extraordinarily important.  We are drilling through barriers that insist on keeping things the same.  But the barriers persist.  Too many schools still can’t view blog pages, podcasts, or other social sites.  Most teachers have no time built into their work schedules to participate in these conversations.  Way too many children do not have access to the technology they need to become in any way acquainted with today’s information landscape.  The concepts of Web 2.0 remain couched in tech-speak that is either to esoteric for many to understand or it down-right turns people off.

I guess I’m just trying to force a reality check on myself, now that I’m back home in my office and planning for more work over the coming months.  This year I’ll have a number of opportunities to speak to education leaders, both administrative and political.  It’s a huge and humbling responsibility, and I wish, so much, that I could just bring them NECC, or at least its energy.

I know one thing.  The cult is growing, and it’s happening because of the energy, passion, and inventiveness of the educators who are driving it.  If that’s all it’s going to take, then we’re home free.

9 thoughts on “A Bucket of Drops….”

  1. David, Your post was quite heartening to me. I’m very much a beginning blogger from a low-tech school district. I was fascinated from afar by NECC 2006 and hope to attend NECC 2007. Some of the things I read are intimidating to a newcomer to the digital banquet – your cafe discussions sound wonderful, but I worried that a neophyte might be (politely) excluded. Be sure to leave some space in this brave new world for new travellers!

  2. HI Diane

    I would like to address your concerns — if I might.

    The conversations at the Cafe Blogger were increased and expanded by those (like you) who considered themselves to be neophytes. When someone new walked up, they were welcomed in. Sometimes, LOL, they were overwhelmed with help — but they were welcomed in with open arms.

    I have to say that I don’t like the word “cult” because it sounds negative and limited in members — however, I can see how people might perceive the blogger’s cafe group as being one………though that would be a false perception.

    I look forward to meeting you at NECC 2008 — but don’t wait til then. The conversation is occurring NOW — so hop on board — share your thoughts — we are listening (and we are learning!!)


  3. I have to say that I don’t like the word “cult” because it sounds negative and limited in members
    I agree with Jennifer but want to add that the word “cult” is also SCARY and that is exactly why many of these tools are being left out of schools. Folks are SCARED about what kids can do with them. And David, you were right on the mark replying to Dembo’s twitter …i think we need necc. i also think necc needs us. My reply was… it is not about the blog it is about the conversation. Diane…in a low tech school, the fact that you are starting the conversation —at least coming to the table at the “digital banquet” is more than you can say for most folks. Like Jennifer said, don’t wait until 2008…

  4. Hi David,
    I participated in the all-day blogging workshop on Sunday, and have now “joined” the blogging cult. Up to that point, I had only read other people’s blogs. It helped me, tremendously, to see how educators are actually using it in our schools. I came back to work, overflowing with excitement, sharing it with my staff (the technology support group). Surprisingly, I even found resistance among my fellow “geeks!” I know that my superintendent (yes, I was the one) wants to pursue the idea of blogging at our school. So, I am enthused and excited! I have been blogging away and can’t wait to explore all the avenues that blogging could possibly provide for our school! Having the support from the top down will certainly help!

    I will forever think of you as my fearful leader in this arena – thanks for your words of encouragement! Besides blogging, I left NECC07 with so many ideas, I am working hard this weekend to capture them all. It was an awesome conference! Tina

  5. “Community of Practice” would work – I imagine NECC as the intersection of thousands of these communities, some overlapping, some not. The overlap between communities does give everyone more opportunities to learn new things. If it had just been a smaller gathering of bloggers, or Second Life educators, or graphing calculator folks, or any other special interest, it might limit the experience to simply a reflection of what you already know. I think learning happens when you stretch your boundaries and accept invitations to move outside your comfort zone.

  6. I haven’t attended a conference of any sort in years–probably 10 years–so for me the blogging about NECC was as close as I could come to capturing the excitement that such a conference brings. Blogging made it so I could vicariously attend the conference with you and the other dozen or so education bloggers that I follow. I don’t think the reality check is necessary. Even if everyone who attended NECC had blogged about it, I wouldn’t have had time to read all those blog posts any more than I have managed to quite make it through all the blog posts about NECC which I’ve bookmarked to read later. In other words, it was *just* like a conference itself, where one has to pick and choose. I think the greatest value of the blogging is that it spreads the ideas to people like me–the little librarians who work at rural schools–and then we spread them within our districts. The NECC attendees who blogged brought the energy to me. Thanks.

  7. Kristin, I agree! Cult does have a negative connotation. I used it for that reason, to temper the zeal that came out of NECC.

    In spite of all that energy and momentum, we need to be reminded that educators who are engage in the conversation, either through blogs, podcasts, wikis, or just talking progressively about teaching and learning in their teacher lounges, are still pretty much in the minority. We still have a long way to go.

    Thanks so much for your comment for for everyone’s contributions.

  8. David,

    For me the reality check happened immediately upon leaving the conference and getting on the subway in Atlanta.

    I learned a lot at NECC, played with new tools, and met people I had only “read” about. But when I looked around at my fellow subway riders, I wondered how much all these things would really impact their lives, and how we could help make sure that they eventually do imipact every student.

    But I agree with your points completely. In fact, even as much as I love technology and techie tools, there were moments at the conference that I felt like we need to be careful not to get carried away by cool things and not stop to remember that most of our teachers still may not be using many web 2.0 tools at all, or may not have access to them from school–much less even understanding something like Second Life. I’m working on a post about this–but 25 million of our young high school graduates are on Facebook, and I’m not sure as educators we even really understand that tool particularly.

    I think the broader discussions about educational change are really an important way of opening up the conversation.
    I appreciate your mindful approach to this in your post.

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