Proponents of 21st-century learning will find the topic a main theme at this year’s National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), to be held June 24-27 in Atlanta, with conference activities focused on learning and leading through the use of technology. More than 18,000 teachers, technology coordinators, administrators, and policy makers are expected to attend this year’s conference, which will feature futurist Andrew Zolli as a keynote speaker.
Sponsored by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), NECC is widely viewed as the premier conference in the educational technology field. According to conference organizers, the key areas of focus for this year’s show will be technology’s role in developing 21st-century learners, the nation’s collective vision for education in 2020, and how that vision can be carried forward into reality.
Other areas of focus will include promising practices for leadership and school transformation, the impact of 21st-century learning environments and virtual schools, the impact of technology on student achievement and school improvement, and how to incorporate technology equitably across school systems.
At this year’s NECC, Zolli will outline what he believes are the trends shaping education’s future and provide insights to help educators respond intelligently to the emerging, complex changes that matter most–both now and in the future.
On Sunday evening, June 24, Zolli will address the impact of technology on school transformation, student engagement, and preparedness for the future. On Tuesday morning, June 26, he will moderate a panel comprised of education and technology leaders who will explore how the arts, brain research, and globalization are shaping the future of education.
“We’re very pleased to bring Andrew Zolli to NECC audiences this year,” said Leslie Conery, NECC conference chair. “His is a vibrant, multidisciplinary gift for understanding the central factors that will shape education for decades to come. We’re looking forward to a fascinating, conference-long conversation about the future of learning and teaching.”
Zolli has been the futurist-in-residence for American Demographics magazine, Popular Science, National Geographic, and National Public Radio’s “Marketplace,” and he is the editor of The Catalog of Tomorrow, which explores 100 trends and technologies for the next 25 years.
Also at this year’s NECC, the Hurricane Education Leadership Program (HELP), led by Terry Smithson of Intel Corp., will hold two sessions. In these sessions, HELP team members will discuss the group’s progress in rebuilding Gulf Coast schools as 21st-century learning facilities, as the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina nears.
As in years past, this year’s NECC program includes practical demonstrations, panel discussions, workshops, internet poster sessions, research papers, and a student showcase. During poster presentations, attendees will have the chance to view posters in a “global gallery,” which will focus on the sharing of international projects, curricula, and promising practices.
The conference exhibit hall will feature more than 400 ed-tech companies and service providers.
“Playground” sessions–informal, day-long, exhibit-style presentations that feature hands-on demonstrations of educational technologies and resources–will cover art, assistive technologies, math and science, music, open-source software, Second Life and virtual worlds, and a 21st-century media center.
This latter session will use interactive stations to showcase how the 21st-century media specialist can embrace emerging technologies and promote student-centered learning.
The Second Life playground session will allow educators to explore stations for creating avatars, navigating in Second Life, and using Second Life for both classroom instruction and professional development. In addition, attendees can explore ISTE’s “island,” or space, within Second Life’s virtual world.
Other new program offerings include Model Lesson sessions, presented in a fishbowl-style model classroom featuring 21st century technologies, in which attendees participate as students or observers; and hands-on “Bring Your Own Laptop” sessions, in which presenters actively engage attendees during the sessions themselves.
This year’s conference once again will feature a hands-on Open Source Lab, which will enable participants to explore popular open-source applications and resources. Topics such as Linux, Moodle (an open-source course management system), using blogs in the classroom, and tips for making open-source software successful will be covered.