NECC or Bust…What I hope see and learn

23 06 2009

It is almost time to pack my bags and head to the largest educational technology show in the world: NECC. This year, the show is in our nation’s capital. So, what will be the big ideas for the year? With the depressed economy and the current state of our nation’s educational system, what will be the ideas that will really make a difference? What will the trade show highlight? I must admit that I am often skeptical of what I see on the trade floor. While very stimulating, I have often felt like I was surrounded by “snake oil salesmen” as the talk about how this program, this website, this device will help your students do well on their tests. It is ironic that we will be holding this year’s conference in the very city where NCLB was born. So what will I be looking for?

First, I will be presenting on Learning through Alternate Reality Games Monday 12:30 to 1:30 at NECC Unplugged. You can read more about this interactive session at My Monday is packed with sessions to attend, an Independent School Birds-of-a-Feather session and meetings. I will be a good portion of Tuesday in the Games and Simulations Arcade and Playground where I will be volunteering from 11: to 1:00. I also plan to explore this space and attend SIG meetings there as well.

As there are still open spots in the Unplugged program, I am considering doing one more session which have just recently started to assemble (as in this week) that looks at stories told through the digital threads of the web. I would offer more but it is not done yet and I am not sure if I will present the idea this year or at a later keynote or workshop. However, I have been absorbed with the idea and have enjoyed the cognitive ride.

As for the rest of the show…

Trade show

  • I plan to look for new and creative ways to connect people of the world.
  • I want to get a sense for where we are related to the idea of ubiquitous computing and cloud computing.
  • Cellphones, handhelds, netbooks
  • Connections- global, multiple platforms, Read/Write web etc
  • Freedom to think creatively
  • Thinking with computers
  • Creative and powerful learning environments that extend the classroom beyond the limits of the teacher.


  • Nothing with Excel, Word, PowerPoint etc.
  • Nothing that is simply about a tool. I want ideas, creativity, big picture
  • Research that relates to one track of my research agenda: faculty professional development through action research, cognitive aspects of learning technologies, alternate reality games as learning environments and emerging technologies.
  • I want to see people tell stories with connected, layered technology
  • Anyone that is looking seriously at teacher professional development where the programs are supported by current learning theories, learning communities and action research.
  • Games and simulations as learning environments
  • Ways that cell phones and handheld devices are entering the learning environment
  • Mashups- I would like to hear about how others are using the technology of the 21st century as a way to think, connect and collaborate. However, these sessions must focus on big ideas and not just on a single topic like how to use a blog or wiki. Again…CONNECTIONS.
  • Anyone who is REALLY using Second Life as a powerful learning tool. While I think there is a real future in virtual worlds for learning, I have yet to see anyone show me something that makes sense from a pedagogical perspective, technical perspective or that will really takes learning in a new direction. I have seen a lot of potential but it has always fallen short in the end. Bring it on…I want to see powerful learning with SL. I have some ideas for how this can be done but my focus is currently in another arena. This is called staying up with the changes and trends.


  • I hope to connect with many who are willing to engage in deep discussions about where we need to go with teaching and learning with technology- where technology makes sense.
  • Connect with others from around the globe who also share a passion for making learning personal and relevant.
  • Finally, to be able to add to my PLN.

So NECC, here I come. I hope to meet many of you at the conference. Remember that many will be using twitter to follow events with #necc2009 and #neccunplugged. I am @bigenhoc ( and hope to see you in D.C.




3 responses

23 06 2009
Caryl Bigenho

Don’t forget to take time to stop by the Open Source Playground in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, where members of the OLPC Learning Club D.C. will be on hand with 15 XOs and the latest “Strawberry” SoaS (Sugar on a Stick) for visitors to explore.


24 06 2009
Heather Junker

Please let me know if you find anyone who is truly doing this: Anyone that is looking seriously at teacher professional development where the programs are supported by current learning theories, learning communities and action research. Our beginning teachers would benefit. Thanks!

5 07 2009
Susan Carter Morgan

Hi Chris,
I meant to introduce myself to you in the SIG but needed to leave a few minutes before it ended. I hope the group finds much to work on together as we all explore new ways to learn and grow! Thanks for your work.

To Heather: I would look at Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach’s work on professional development. Here is her blog:

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