NECC09 Roundup (part two)

Continuing to look for gold among the dross…

Second Day Keynote: Are Bricks-and-Mortar Schools Detrimental to Education?

  • This “debate” felt forced: the pro side gave same-old/same-old constructivist arguments without explaining how a school building was problematic
  • No one talked about the need to inculcate basics before allowing students to explore
  • On-line learning was lauded (no proof that it works best, and the socialization that occurs is not the equivalent of face-to-face)
  • One-liners:
    • Students need schools to “get together to learn something” (Jupp)
    • Problem isn’t a physical space, it’s old-fashioned practice (Stager)
    • The things that make schools viable and useful are the first things to be stripped from the budget (Stager)
    • We need to rethink education to include both face-to-face and on-line – go global and local (Lemke)
    • Schools need to become part of the K-90 community (Lemke)
    • Students do not start off self-directed – connected students do better on-line (Lemke)
    • Learning is not just 8-hours/day (Thompson)


  • Lots of promotion of the Ning and wiki
  • Challenge One: how do you turn your website into a giant conversation? (allow students to help – “if they build it, they will come”; learning is 24/7/365)
  • Challenge Two: how do we get parents/teachers/etc. on board? (need to expose students to proper use of tools; consider the PBS Kids Web License)
  • Challenge Three: [forgot the words] check out authorstream, and “powerboosting” your lessons
  • Challenge Four: how can you live in the cloud? (Chris Harris at his provocative best, but can others without his power actually get these changes made in their school/district? )

Supe My Content! Creating 21st-Century Digital Learning Objects

  • One big promo for PBS Education, very disappointing
  • Best line: “we’re teaching 1st century skills with 21st century tools” (AMEN!)

Overall, this was not a stellar conference. Much of the “innovation” had been discussed at ALA/AASL before – the question that immediately posed is where’s the disconnect between teachers, technologists and librarians? How can we combat this??

Another observation (from a friend): can we put a moratorium on the phrase “21st century skills”? Why? Because 99% of the time it’s used, there’s no discussion of what those skills are, or how they differ from the 20th century (or 19th century) skills – without explaining what they are, it’s just a catch-phrase and thus meaningless.

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