NECC 08 Highlights: Monday

I may have been too negative in my online reflections related to edubloggercon and the bloggers cafe. It is absolutely amazing to be here with everyone – with so many opportunities for learning surrounding me. There have been many highlights today alone.

Glogowski on Student Blogging

The first and perhaps the most high of the highlights, was attending Konrad Glogowski’s Blogging Communities in the Classroom: Creating Engaging Learning Experiences. I had this to say about it in twitter:

At Konrad Glogowski’s presentation on classroom blogging communities (Hyatt Sequin A/B)… It’s packed.

Konrad (to a chorus oh mmm hmmm’s): If you you have time to read everything your students write, they’re not writing enough.

Konrad got 27 minutes in before getting asked “was that on the district server?How do you handle harassment.”

Konrad’s answer was good: we start by spending a lot of time with the kids talking about creating community.

As a former English teacher, I’m enjoying Konrad’s humorous and humane approach to helping students develop as writers.

Konrad on redefining writing: move from authoritative pronouncements to ongoing discourse.

Konrad sharing great “how to grow a blog” graphic metaphor.

Will Richardson ustreamed the presentation and archived the chat.

Because Konrad has just finished up his dissertation, too (this presentation was based on his research), I felt an additional connection. He showed lots of excerpts of student writing from his study, which inspired me to take a more specific approach to presenting my own dissertation later in the day. I was amazed and impressed to learn after his presentation that he was preparing to leave this afternoon – for two months in Africa working for teachers without borders. He considered it a big unknown and expressed his concerns about it. He seems to be a man living life to it’s fullest… in part by engaging in meaningful risk taking. :)

Jakes and Shareski on Presentation Design

After some time in the Bloggers Cafe (more on that below), I next made my way to see David Jakes and Dean Shareski present One Hour PowerPoint: A Strategy for Improving Presentations. It seems Jakes may have submitted a powerpoint session (almost as a joke) after realizing that more sophisticated sessions often got rejected. But there was nothing unsophisticated about this presentation, and by all accounts it was masterfully executed (I only saw about half – plus the preview I saw before hand). I had this to say about it on twitter:

Arrived 11 minutes into @dnakes’ preso – it’s PACKED! They’ve now been watching a video for at least 3 minutes. Hmm.

He’s got the crowd enraptured with his brain based segment – 1st of his ten things.

Metaphor from Jakes: its a dial up connection between the ears and the brain – but a broadband connection between the eye and the brain.

Jakes is teaching about flickr and creative commons. Good stuff but I’m moving on.

I watched them lay a solid theoretical foundation justifying better presentation design, but as they transitioned into talking about tools I knew, I figured I didn’t need to stand in back and stretch to see anymore… but of course it turns out I missed some great examples and demos. I can’t wait to see the presentation online, but at this point can’t seem to find the link. I think their approach will influence my own Images, Impact, and Interaction workshops in the future.

Wagner (That’s Me) on MMORPGs in Education

Again I had some time in the Blogger’s Cafe, but soon I made a quick trip to the Presenters’ World (prep room) and then headed to present my own session, Massively Multiplayer Schools: Do MMORPGs Have a Future in Education? This was a round table presentation of my dissertation findings. I was happy with the turnout (which required extra chairs) and was able to speak to the practitioners who showed up more than to academics, which suited me fine – I felt I might be making more of a difference for students and teachers. It really felt good to present – I think that may have been some of what I’ve been missing here. I feel really useless walking around with all these workshops in my head and nobody to share them with despite being in a conference of 13,000 teachers who want to learn more about using computers with their students. The round table went great (and allowed some discussion on a reasonable scale), but even so, I couldn’t help but feel that the large presentation I did at NECC two years ago for a huge packed room (before I had formal research to report) probably had more of an impact. Happily, I got a chance to “present” again less than two hours later.

CUE Social

In the meantime, I visited the CUE social at the Global Connections lounge. It was small (we’re not in California), but I was able to connect with some colleagues I don’t see very often. And, after the Second Life demo announcing the CUEniverse (CUE’s SL presence), we pulled up the ustream of a Creating Live Web TV for the Classroom for Global Audiences… a session on ustream, presented by Will Richardson and a panel of others including Steve Dembo, Ewan McIntosh, and more. It was the first time during the conference that I found the stream a really valuable alternative to being there face-to-face. Unfortunately, I made a bit of a fool of myself as I tried to join into the chat while only half watching the session during the social. :(

Walden University Residency

In any case, I left the social (and the session) early to once again make a sort of cameo appearance at the Walden University residency. Educational Technology Ph.D. students attend NECC during the day and then the residency in the evening, where the debrief, continue to learn, and work on their progress in the program. One of my committee members runs the program and asked me to speak to them about the dissertation process (and my experiences at NECC). I enjoyed being able to “give back” a bit – and I enjoyed presenting my paper to academics (who had much harder questions for me) following my round table with practitioners. I left here feeling a bit more like I usually do at conferences.

The People

Ultimately, though, the real valuable moments of this day (as is often the case at conferences) were the serendipitous – and often very short – conversations with my fellow attendees and fellow edubloggers.

As much as I may have missed the Blogger Cafe format from last year (and yesterday), it has still been an amazingly cool thing to wake up, come downstairs, and have breakfast with edubloggers I respect… to bump into and learn new things about others over lunch (or frantic preparations) at the Bloggers cafe… to connect with CUE colleagues over a drink… and to run into so many people whose work and writing I respect simply while walking beside the river downtown. Even though I’m splitting some of my time and attention with my family, this is cool. Very. Very. Cool.

For tomorrow and Wendesday, I’m torn between wanting to present as much as I can via NECC Unplugged (if there are any slots left) and wanting to find a way (or place) to have more conversations of the sort we were able to have in the Bloggers’ Cafe before the NECC Unplugged sessions. (Ironically, the speakers for these sessions are “plugged” in with Mics.) On this second front I may have discovered something useful this afternoon…

An Alternate Blogger’s Cafe?

As I commented on Jeff’s post I think the Global Connections cafe (where the CUE social was) might be perfect as an alternate location for the edublogger cafe. It was empty when I was there at about 3, but it was outfit just as well as the blogger’s cafe… lots of tables, comfy chairs, the widescreen tv, the whiteboard with short-throw projector, power, etc. If folks are up for it, I think it might fit the bill. I’d love to have more informal conversations and learning there the next two days. I don’t know what it would take to get a critical mass there, but perhaps it can start with something like this post.