Wednesday, June 29, 2005

NECC Day 4

After a night’s rest, I felt rejuvenated and ready to enjoy day four of NECC. The day began in the concierge lounge with continental breakfast, and then we were off to the sessions. Today we attended six different sessions.

  1. Choose your own keynote - we choose Joel Baker’s speech on Five Regions of the Future. I have never had the opportunity to hear a futurist speak. It was really a fascinating experience. Joel has recently published a book that goes by the title of the speech mentioned above. It was both informative, and entertaining to hear what he had to say. He left me with a lot to think about, and at an educational conference, that is as Martha Stewart would say, a good thing. I intend on buying the book and adding it to my list of things to read, if I ever finish Algorithmics.
  2. A presentation from Macromedia on Breeze. I had never heard of Breeze before this conference and I was very pleased with what I saw in the product demo. Basically, this is macromedia’s version of Microsoft Producer, but rather than distilling the PowerPoint presentation down into a fancy DHML page, the slides are distilled into a Macromedia Flash file. Certainly flash would have a lot less problems with browser compatibility, flash is basically ubiquitous in both the PC and Mac worlds. I was especially impressed by how easy the plug-in to PowerPoint looked, and by the ability Macromedia gives the user to add quizzes were all the user has to do is fill out forms, and the flash code is all generated in the background. I have a 30 day trial, so when I get home, after I have finished my PHP RSS writer, I will have to give it a try.
  3. A presentation on Microsoft on MS Student 2006. What a great piece of software, and this accolade is coming from a user who is still very critical of Encarta. The demo was really well put together, and I could see a lot of use for this product in the classroom and at home. I was most impressed by the templates that fit into Office applications that were designed to help students learn how to write papers, bibliographies, and accomplish other tasks. Basically, they have made the information easy to find, and once found, removed the stress of designing a layout for a presentation, graph, or paper, allowing the student to focus on writing.
  4. A presentation by Apple on OS X Tiger. Beautiful! I am a PC user; I grew up on a Mac. As soon as I can spare the $600, you have to know that I will be buying myself a Mac mini. No, it isn’t a G5, and it isn’t a laptop, but it will give me OS X, and iLife. I fully intend on living my computer life with feet firmly planted in both operating systems. But, back to the topic, other than the technical problems that the Apple booth was having with their wireless LAN, it was really a great presentation that highlighted a few of the great features of OS X Tiger. I only wish that Apple had been more liberal with their swag. I would have proudly worn a t-shirt for them; however, I refuse to play a game for them so that I can be their walking billboard.
  5. A lecture by Annette Lamb on the Seven Essentials of Technology-Rich Learning. What a fantastic speaker Annette is. She had some really awesome ideas about how teachers could easily implement technology into their classroom teaching environments. One point that I really loved was that she stressed that teachers should start out small, and do what they can. When venturing into a technology solution, they don’t have to be an expert at any software suite to get started, nor do they have to dream up any grand scale projects. Start simple and small, be willing to learn form your students, and have fun. It really was refreshing and inspiring.
  6. A lecture by Kathy Schrock on Abracadabra the magic of technology gadgets for educators. Kathy is a laugh and a half. What a light-hearted, wonderfully entertaining and educational lecture she gave. Basically it was a whirlwind tour of what is new in technology gadgets. It was a blast to watch her PowerPoint slides change to see the next neat toy that she was going to talk about for a few seconds. Some of it was serious, a lot of it was play, but after a day of pretty serious topics, it was nice to just enjoy what felt a lot like a special guided tour of every great tech store you could shop. I would love to buy toys as often as she does. She claimed that she would buy them, use them for a bit, and then sell them on e-bay. Probably not a bad idea, and other than the fact that she loves Palm handhelds, I agreed with just about every product she endorsed.

I can honestly say that each of the sessions we attended was just spectacular. I really enjoyed them all.

For dinner tonight we ate at the Old City Tavern, a restored replica of the Old Tavern where the founding fathers went to enjoy a drink after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was a really fantastic dinner, in the company of some very great people. I can not speak highly enough of the people that I have had the opportunity to meet while here at NECC, the folks at the Jordan School District treated me as a part of the crew, and was a privilege to be associated with them. They really are a great team. For the food snobs that read this blog, dinner was a three course meal, and the highlights included crab cakes, romaine salad, prime rib roast, and a very decadent chocolate cake. It was a fantastic meal, in a wonderfully historic place.

Well that wraps it up for the day. Tomorrow will be my last day in Philly. Classes in the morning, and then off to the airport in the afternoon. I will write my blog entry on the plane, but it probably won’t get posted until Friday morning.

NECC has been a fantastic experience, and I am just so grateful that I have had the opportunity to be here, to learn form these great educators. I now have yet another perspective from which I can view software and technology, and I believe that as a future software developer these perspectives I am gaining are critical to helping me fully understand the role of software development in our rapidly changing world.

* Sorry that I don’t have any links in here right now. I will come back and add them as soon as I get some more time.

1 comment:

Kathy Schrock said...

Dear Joe,

I am glad you enjoyed NECC and had fun at my session!

Take care,