The Read/Write Web, also referred to as Web 2.0, was a big part of the conference. Many sessions dealt with wikis, blogs and podcasts as easy ways for teachers and especially students to contribute content to the web. As Will Richardson put it, “A society of authors.” This was also said about the web not too long ago. The difference is that learning html or Dreamweaver requires lots of time while setting up a blog or a wiki on one of the many sites that offer them is relatively easy.
Many people were blogging the conference. I sat next to someone in one session who was typing right into her blog . She said everyone in her district who is at NECC is blogging the conference. This is one great way to create a district resource that teachers who did not attend the conference can use. Also, teachers who attended the conference have a blog to refer back if they forget something.
During one session the person sitting in front of me was looking at my blog during the session. I tapped her on the shoulder and said hello. Small world. In another session, I met a person who had emailed me about my blog the day before. The great thing about NECC is that the people who are using technology are at NECC using technology. There were laptops everywhere and the entire conference site offered free wifi access.
Some people were saying that educators should not take away the tools that kids are using at home when the come to school. The tools that they were referring to are cell phones, blogs and myspace pages. I believe it was Will Richardson who compared a myspace page to a beer commercial. He pointed out that there was the same amount of commercialism and sexual innuendo in the beer commercial as in the myspace page. The important thing is to teach students how to use these tools for educational purposes and publish responsibly.
In the exhibits area I was impressed by www.schoolweblockers.com. This company offers a web based file storage system for students and teachers. For about $1.00 per user in a school each student gets 100Mb of storage and teachers get 1Gb of storage. Students and teachers can take files that they are working on at school and upload them to the schoolweblockers.com server. When they get home the files can be downloaded to their home computer. This is a great way to give students and teachers the opportunity to store, access and transfer files at school or at home.
Answers.com had a booth at NECC and their website, http://www.answers.com/, is a useful research tool for k-12 students.