NCCE – Things to Know Before You Go!
The NCCE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promote the use of technology in education. The NCCE hosts the largest technology conference in the Pacific Northwest, providing its members with training and information about the latest advances in educational technology. Next year the conference will be held in Portland Oregon, February 17th-20th at the Oregon Convention Center. There are several common features to these conferences; paid workshops, free learning sessions, vender demonstrations and displays, geocaching, and of course meeting and talking with other educators from around the region. This article will discuss various aspects of this conference, to help new members get the most out of this event.
Logistics At the Conference
In 2009 the NCCE Conference will be held in Portland. If you don’t live in the area, pre-planning is essential. Even if you do live near the conference location, the conference is a city within itself, so don’t go without a roadmap!
“Before you go with your peeps <YES! You should bring them>check out the sessions and think about what your peep’s goals have been so far throughout the year. Earmark those sessions then grab your peeps for a meeting before the conference. Meet in a classroom with a web connection and go through each time session… have them write down 1st and 2nd choices for each time slot. I actually went to the first session one with one of my peeps… it was good to help her generate excitement and “translate” some of the lingo.”
What to Do?
What to Eat?
“I had a lap top with me, but I wish I didn’t. I didn’t use it at the conference. I did use it at the hotel. It just took up space, and was heavy to carry.”
“To laptop or not to laptop. I didn’t bring one, but several times wished I had. It’s about a 50/50.”
Team and Conference Expectations
Have high expectations not only for the conference but for your peeps as well… YES! you should bring your peeps. NCCE can be both exciting and yet daunting so laying the groundwork before the conference can make a huge difference in how successful the NCCE experience will be. Take the time to think about the goals you’ve work on with your peeps and then check out the sessions online. Earmark sessions and then grab your peeps for a meeting before the conference. Set a focus or goal, explore the course offerings carefully, and write down 1st, 2nd, and even 3rd choices for each time slot. Plan to go to the first session with your peep if he or she is a bit nervous or wary of the conference. Plan for long days at the conference whether you actually stay until 5:00 everyday, set that expectation ahead of time.
You’ve made it to the conference; hear the Keynote Speaker. This will hopefully be a highlight and set the tone for the entire conference. As you attend sessions, don’t hesitate to stick around after presentations to network with presenters and other folks with common interests. Add some planning time into your day. This will give you a chance to process new information and share new ideas. Furthermore, enjoy some down time as the conference can be awe-inspiring as well as overwhelming.
One of the wonderful opportunities you have while attending NCCE is a chance to visit the exhibition hall. Here you have the chance to talk to vendors of hardware, software, Internet resources and colleges! In order to make your time in the exhibit hall productive we have a few suggestions:
Prior to attending the conference brainstorm with your peep(s) what future technology purchases you may want to make, make a list of questions you want to ask and set a goal for yourself to visit with at least X number of vendors. You may also want to make some preprinted labels (including your email) which you can attach to forms that the vendors ask you to fill out. The vendors often will scan your badge to get information about you. There are times when their badge scanners do not work or you may want to be able to give out your address or emails to people that you met.
While at the conference visit with the exhibitors, TALK TO THEM and ask your questions! Most of the vendors are quite knowledgeable and are more than willing to take time to talk to you. Often you are “rewarded” with gifts and prizes. If you see something that you are interested in having at your building, ask if they will loan a set to you to try it out. In order to navigate through the large maze of exhibitors, you may wish to start on the outside aisles first as most people tend to start in the middle or at the aisles closest to the open doors.
At the end of the conference, revisit those vendors that you made a connection with while they are packing up. Many will give away items as they don’t want to have to pack them up and take them home.
Presenting at NCCE
“Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.” John Gardner, United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare 1965–1968
One of the most exciting experiences an educator can have is to be a presenter at NCCE. Don’t let it scare you off it’s exactly like being in your classroom with “larger students”. Breaking the steps down makes this an easy endeavor.
Writing the proposal:
Think about that favorite lesson, software, tools. How do you get the biggest bang for your dollar? This might be the topic you choose to share with others. Write the proposal as if it were a lesson plan. Give it a catchy title, and describe the details of what you want the learners to take away from your session. Be sure that what you describe is what you plan to teach, there is nothing more frustrating for an attendee than to go to a session and have the topic be different than what was described.
Once your proposal has been accepted:
Read over the detailed acceptance information it should be in the form of an email. The letter should have vital information such as the room number, where the equipment will need to be picked up, time you can set up and time you must be out of the room. Be sure to save all emails from NCCE, so that you can reference the information later. One week before the conference I email back one last time to be sure I have all of my room information straight and there have not been any changes.
Use Power Point, Photo Story, or some type of presentation software to share your ideas, lessons, topic to be shared. Practice what you want to say and how the presentation slides fit your verbal commentary. Don’t forget that when people get nervous they tend to speak faster- so plan for finishing early, have more that needed information to fill the 50 minute session. I used a thumb drive and a burned CD to store and carry my presentation, (knowing that if I had only used one, it would not work and I’d be stuck). Don’t forget to have lots of student samples to share. Your contact information is vital to the presentation, make a postcard with your presentation title, contact information and the URL for your website. Others will look to you for advice, follow up or sharing. They will want to know how to get you once you are back at school.
This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with teachers from all over the Northwest. If they are in your session they too have a similar interest in the topic. Your own growth will flourish as you make connections with others and pick their brains for adding to your knowledge base. (Hand out your postcards to these contacts too!)
Have Fun!! Have fun!! Have Fun!!
Don’t forget to put this on your resume.
Conclusion: Planning is the Key!
times all you can do is go and absorb… and that’s ok too!
Everett Public School Elementary Tech Specialist Kari,
Everett Public School Middle School Art and Technology Teacher Cynthia,
Everett Public School Elementary Science and Technology Teacher Leader Fran,
Everett Public School Elementary Tech Specialist Sandy,
Bellingham Public School 2nd and 3rd Grade Teacher Marca and
Bellingham Public School Library Media Specialist Lisa