NECC 2009 looks to education’s future

Gladwell KeynoteThe economic recession doesn’t seem to have dampened enthusiasm for the 2009 National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Washington, D.C.: At a time when tight school budgets have left little room for travel expenses, conference organizers report that a record 18,000-plus educators and exhibitors converged on the nation’s capital June 28 through July 1 to share strategies and success stories for integrating technology effectively into instruction.

Hosted by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), the 30th annual NECC drew attendees from 71 countries–and paid registration was up by nearly 1,000 attendees over last year’s figures, organizers said. ISTE deputy CEO and conference chair Leslie Conery called it an “odds-defying” event in difficult economic times, and she praised educators for their energy and commitment.

ISTE marked the 30th anniversary of its conference with the theme “Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Present, Envisioning the Future.” In kicking off the event on June 28, ISTE President Helen Padgett revealed that NECC will be known simply as “ISTE” beginning next year, when the conference will be held in Denver.

With a new administration in Washington that understands the need for 21st-century school reform, “the future truly is now,” Padgett said, adding that now is the time to effect lasting, systemic change in education.

“Schools have made progress” toward meeting 21st-century curriculum goals, she said, but the results from the most recent Speak Up survey reveal how much work still remains: Students in the national survey said they “step back in time” when they go to school.

“We won’t be doing our job until students say they’re stepping into their future, instead of our past,” Padgett warned.

Here are highlights from the four-day conference…

Meaningful learning environments

Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell explains what educators can learn from the rock band Fleetwood Mac about creating meaningful learning environments.


New ed-tech standards for administrators

ISTE has released an updated version of its educational technology standards for school leaders.


Clicks vs. bricks

Experts debate the relevancy of brick-and-mortar schools in an internet-connected world.


Storming the Hill

Advocacy was a key part of NECC 2009, as more than 500 educators lobbied their senators and representatives to support educational technology in what organizers said was the largest ed-tech presence ever on Capitol Hill.


Freedom to collaborate

Closing keynote speaker Erin Gruwell, president of the Freedom Writers Foundation, described how technology (coupled with great teaching) can unleash students’ creative potential and enable powerful collaboration.

Highlights from the NECC Exhibit Hall

Computers and infrastructure

A new Mobile Computing Station for Dell netbooks; an eRate-eligible fiber optic WAN service with 24-7 monitoring and management, and more.

Instruction, assessment, collaboration (part 1)

Innovative projector technology that eliminates the need for whiteboard hardware, a new digital literacy certification program, a social learning network for educators, and more.

Instruction, assessment, collaboration (part 2)

A student-run virtual help desk for teachers, software that provides on-screen teaching tools to complement existing classroom technologies, an immersive online science instructional video game, and more.

School, data, and network administration

An appliance that simplifies the deployment of both Macs and PCs, software for managing digital signage, and more.

Professional development and consulting

New on-site training in the use of Adobe software, a three-part course to gain mastery of national ed-tech standards, and more.

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