While I love the energy of AASL, and seeing so many friends and gurus from across the country, there’s something about a >150 person conference that leads to greater connection. AASL had a Blogger’s Cafe, NEIT will be an Unconference – both incredible opportunities to share and grow.
Both conferences will be tech heavy, but I’m guessing that the connectivity issues at AASL will also be felt at NEIT. In some ways, that’s a good thing. Shouldn’t we be focusing on the concepts rather than the tools? Isn’t the pedagogy just as important as practice? As I look at the proposed sessions for NEIT (and scanned the concurrent programs for AASL) I saw a great deal of reliance on tool; unlike Ross Todd, I don’t care as much about the research but I do care about the macro discussions.
What will be different is that at NEIT, the Big Names aren’t quite as Big as at AASL. The people I’m going to working with/learning from are there to work with/learn from each other. At AASL I saw many of the Names going to each other’s sessions, mostly (it seemed) to be seen at each other’s sessions rather than to really participate and learn. They’d work on their own presentations, or blog posts, or something other than the actual session – terribly distracting for the rest of us. Distracting how? When there’s time for group work and it’s clear that the Names haven’t paid attention, it’s distracting.
Time to dress and get moving. One of the things I hate most about conferences won’t be a factor at NEIT: I get to commute from home!