I was originally going to wait for all my travel plans to finalize, but there's no reason why I shouldn't holler out right now that I'll be at NECC this year. If you are also coming, let me know!
NECC is the National Educational Computing Conference, and it is - from what I've heard - the stuff of legend and the place to be for people interested in teaching and technology. I say this based on two things: (1) 100% of the people I know who've been to NECC have emailed/called/found me immediately afterwards and bellowed "YOU HAVE TO GO TO NECC!" and (2) when asked to describe what NECC was like, their first reponse is to drop their jaw into a massive grin and flail their arms around in wordless happiness before they're able to start describing it in English.
So when I found out I was going down to DC, I quietly and calmly finished up some time-sensitive morning tasks and then RAN AROUND THE OFFICE BUILDING IN EXCITEMENT! Until it started to rain - at which point I went inside and sped another half-mile on a treadmill before I had expended enough adrenaline to sit down and be productive again. (Otherwise all my coworkers would be wondering why someone was whooping and hollering through the hallways.)
Needless to say, I'm looking forward to this. I'm looking through the program and starting to loosely map out my time there. It's a given that I'll want to check out "open source in education" stuff, but I also want to examine the basis of my kool-aid drinking on it, since to most of the world, this is not obvious. In fact, I've heard brilliant people whom I admire and respect tell me that open source and education is a terrible idea. They have good reasons. I don't know what those reasons are yet.
I want to understand where that comes from - not to argue or fight back against it, but because there's certainly a lot that we can learn from it and use to make our own work better. The realities and presures of working in a classroom, in a lab with creaky old equipment, with a massive district to oversee, within the government, with an overloaded IT staff, with tests and rules and regulations, with a host of kids with challenging needs, with things I can't even imagine... and the solutions and mistakes and triumphs and opportunities that other people are already finding - what is this world? I have a lot to listen to and learn.
I'll post more plans here when I have them, but in the meantime... who should I meet? What should I go to? Are there questions I should ask, topics I should seek out, things I should watch for? General conference-attending tips I should heed?
I plan on documenting everything I can, primarily through abusing my typing speed for live transcriptions (if you'd like me to transcribe your talk, or any particular talk, please let me know) and collecting short one-question interviews, for which I need a good question to ask. Maybe "What is your biggest learning goal for the upcoming school year, and what would help you get there?" - but that's awkwardly phrased. Any ideas for a better one?