Jeff Utecht was left hoping for more last week at NECC.
I saw a lot of technology being used and sold in the same way it has been for the past 20 years. Maybe I wasnâ€™t listening to the right conversations, but the feel of something different wasnâ€™t thereâ€¦for me anyway.
And he asks if maybe he was expecting too much. Not possible.
First of all, as was obvious from my posts, I did feel something really different at NECC this year. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t see it at all on the exhibit floor. There was nothing there that said “We get it.” If anything, I just get more and more depressed when I go to see the vendors on the floor. Not for nothin’ that there are millions of hungry or impoverished kids in the world that could better use the millions of dollars that go into the absolutely awful conference schwag and the overdone, glitzy booths. (Best Buy deserves a “Worst Try” award for the huge shopping bags they were giving away, 90% of which are already in the waste stream, I’m sure.) But this is America, after all and we have to have our stuff.
But the conversations and presentations about Web 2.0 were there in a way that I haven’t seen at NECC. They were NOT about pedagogy and about, as Jeff says, “about the changing nature of our students, our classrooms, and our society.” (That would have been amazing and should be the goal for Atlanta next year.) But they were about the conversations that have to come before pedagogy. Here’s what these tools are. Here’s what they can do. Here are the first practices that are sticking. It’s about building the vocabulary and the context, which, for some, takes time.
eSchoolNews ran an interview with David Thornburg last April where he talked about how fear of technology is really what’s stalling our progress. And he makes what I think is a relevant comparison to when the printing press came into being.
Any economic theory involving price elasticity says that there should be more computers, but there are not. There’s a force that’s keeping them from being more fully utilized. We think that force is related to a reluctance on the part of certain educational establishments in transforming themselves. That, by the way, happened when the printed book came into existence. The printed book completely changed education. In that case, it took about 100 years.
Obviously, we can’t wait 100 years. We can’t even wait 10. Hopefully the transparency of the technology will speed things up a bit. But it is going to take some time before people seriously get out of the fear mode and into the imagination mode. When I think about this NECC compared to just two years ago, I’m amazed at where we’ve come. Two years from now, who knows?
Regardless, I just want to echo everyone else who has made note of the fact that the best part about NECC and any other of these types of conferences are the conversations that take place outside of the meeting rooms and convention centers. It was great meeting Jeff and a host of others, and I think David’s idea for Atlanta is a great one. In fact, we should start planning ghe Blogger’s Cafe sooner rather than later…