Over the Independence Day holiday week, nearly 17,000 educators, administrators, and ed-tech and association executives converged in San Diego to attend the 2006 National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), an event that provided plenty of fireworks both on and off the exhibit floor. As usual, eSchool News was on hand.

In fact, we came in full force. In addition to our usual contingent of reporters, representatives, photographers, and newly minted “conference correspondents,” for the very first time, we brought a full-fledged eSN TV video crew.

While it’s one thing to read about prominent speakers and their presentations, it’s quite another to witness their passion, knowledge, and charisma with your own eyes. NECC 2006 speakers were brimming with these qualities–and now you can see for yourself. At eSchool News Online, you can view short video clips featuring highlights from both NECC keynote speakers: Nicholas Negroponte, former MIT professor and co-founder of Wired magazine, and Dewitt Jones, celebrated photographer for National Geographic. Negroponte, who is spearheading the $100 laptop project, believes that ubiquitous access to low-priced computers in impoverished areas of the globe eventually will help erode ignorance and the poverty that accompanies it. At this year’s NECC, educators had the chance to hear about this project from the architect himself and also try out a prototype of the $100 laptop, which has the potential to revolutionize education worldwide. If you missed these opportunities, don’t worry–eSN TV brings you a seven-minute wrap-up of the project, complete with a virtual “tour” of the machine and high points from Negroponte’s speech.

Photographer Dewitt Jones’ presentation was equally inspiring. Through stirring words and striking images, he prodded and admonished educators to transform themselves from “stone chippers” to “cathedral builders.”

A short portion of Jones’ speech is included in a five-minute video of NECC highlights, posted to eSchool News Online and available in Quicktime or Windows Media Player formats. The Negroponte report, called “$100 laptop… Billion-dollar idea,” is also available. You can view these and other video news reports filed from NECC 2006 here: http://www.eschoolnews.com/marc/video.cfm

I also urge you to check out our online “Conference Information Center” (CIC). Our new and improved CIC is designed to help you find the type of conference content you’re most interested in–including our entire scope of NECC 2006 coverage. Here, you’ll find daily news stories written by eSchool News reporters and filed from this year’s NECC, as well as dozens of new product showcases, a photo gallery, links to our NECC video, and–perhaps most notably–our 100-plus Conference Correspondent reports, which are organized according to topic and also searchable by keyword. Check it all out here: http://www.eschoolnews.com/cic

Our one-of-a-kind Conference Correspondent program extends the reach of our conference reporting immensely, and we value the efforts of each person who took the time to participate. At this year’s NECC, the program boasted more than 50 volunteer educators, who set out to cover many of the conference’s 300-plus sessions. These volunteers submitted more than 100 session reviews, all from their own perspective. To have their commentary on the biggest ed-tech issues of the day is an invaluable addition to our coverage. If you couldn’t attend the conference–or if you did attend, but you couldn’t make it to a specific session–you can still glean some of the advice you missed by reading these reports. With our Conference Correspondent program, anyone can “attend” NECC, even if you were half a continent away.

In next month’s print edition of eSchool News, you’ll find an executive overview of the keynote speeches, workshops, presentations, and latest announcements from the community of ed-tech providers.

In the meantime, sound, pictures, videos, and in-depth reports at eSchool News Online will help you relive and enrich your NECC memories if you were an attendee–and give you the chance to experience some of the benefits if you were unable to attend this year. Don’t miss the ed-tech industry’s most comprehensive coverage of the industry’s largest event. I hope to see you at our web site soon.