Yes, this is my gratuitous NECC 2009 reflection post. There were too many experiences and too many conversations that took place for me not to stop and reflect on the week as I experienced it.
The most noticeable observation I can make is the comparison of experiences from last year’s NECC to this year’s. Last year was my first, and it was quite honestly an incredibly overwhelming experience. I felt rather detached and fatigued as I flew out of San Antonio, and I can directly attribute that to how disconnected I was to this community. I hadn’t yet started my blog, I was only faintly invested in Twitter, and I knew a total of about five people at the conference. How a year can change everything.
I began my blog in August and have been learning by exponents ever since. Not long after, I sought to engage in conversation on Twitter. Again, the learning experiences quickly heaped one atop the other. And as my learning opportunities increased, so too did my level of connectedness. I came to NECC this year part of a very strong network- an engaged network who readily struck up conversations that will fill my foreseeable future with countless moments of pondering.
This experience has left me with no doubt that a learning network can be one of the best things any professional can develop. Engaging the community and building relationships leave one in a place to break the bubble of solitude and grow in entirely unexpected ways.
I also learned what an outstanding experience it is to meet people face to face who you’ve been connecting with exclusively online.
I learned that
-Judi, Anne, Beth, Brady, and Scott M. are tremendous classmates
-Angela is every bit as dynamic in person as she is online
-Jon B. continues to be on my list of people I call friends (I swear the bracelet must have gotten lost in the mail).
-Dean is a crazy good golfer, and I could probably talk to him all day about all things education.
-Karl is in the same category of gentle, entirely wonderful human beings as Paul.
-Paul is an incredible social organizer
-Mike has now seen a baseball game and was the first person I’ve ever known to have a caricature drawn of his dinner rather than himself
-Scott F. is a great guy to hang out with
-Ketchup chips are as good as Dave says they are, and Dave is as good at riding in coach as I am at not making a mess in sessions
-Ken has the voice for radio
-Paula is a person you should know
-I have so, so much to learn
-Kelly is taller than her avatar and has a charming personality to match her charming southern drawl
-Jeff is the man to talk to if you ever get the itch to teach oversees.
-Vinny has an astounding memory
-Andy was missed
-Pat was very busy and had to watch someone eat rabbit
-Jen should have been there
-Jon O. is a master at the art of digital storytelling (something I’ve known for a very long time)
-Hank is a great guy to walk the monuments with
-Tim shares my excitement for digital photography
-Chris is the kind of principal I would work for in a second
-Chad is a great guy despite his love for the Brewers
-Mark is as nice as I thought he was
-Melanie is an outstanding student and a true humanitarian (see sandal fund)
-Cathy, Joe, and Lucy are great company at the airport
-Second Life still creeps me out
-Katie takes advantage of good photo opportunities
-Teryl knows how to have fun on a panel
-I wish I could grow a beard like Steve
-Christine is as nice as any Texan
-John does not cross streets properly
-Steve learned how to properly use the SMART pointer
-Nadine has great style
-Darren thinks I work for Sony
-Sylvia is a great person to converse with
-Scott M. is a person I am proud to call my friend
-I missed my family so much it hurt
-There was no way I could make this list without unintentionally leaving people out; I’m incredibly sorry if I missed you.
All this to say, it’s the people and the connections with each that made this conference one I’m truly glad I attended.
One other observation. I’m not sure that the future format of a conference should stay as it is. With our increased level of communication and sense of connectedness, it may well be that the session format needs to be rethought. Much of what was presented in sessions has been discussed and broadcast at length online. When such content is so readily available, what is it that gives a conference unique value? I talked with several people about this, and it’s a topic that absolutely lands on the list of things to keep thinking about, but I wonder if we shouldn’t start looking to incorporate more of an edubloggercon or bar camp construct in the future. I think this idea requires some vetting, so I’ll leave it open for your consideration as well.
That’s it. My week in brief. It was truly an outstanding experience, and I’m better because of the conversations, challenges, and pushes to grow. Thank you all for that.
Thanks to Erica Marshall for the use of the Flickr image.