I’m on a sardine can packed flight back home to Phoenix from Cleveland (judging from the airport, the local population must be down 80% in numbers), and thinking already about the backload of blogging that may just get pushed aside.
Working for the organization running a conference, is 180 degrees (or 540) from the experience of attending– I should have known so having been responsible for a number of large events in my days at Maricopa, but a several day conference is jam full of behind the scenes things, worries, concerns that are all kept out of participant views. I am not complaining, but it left no time for blogging the experience, the scant sessions I was able to partake, and the huge numbers of great people I met, like Stewart, creator of Using Wiki in Education who is doing some fabulous wiki work there as well as the Science of Spectroscopy site.
And being the rookie on staff, I likely had the lightest load, so my hats off to my other colleagues who pulled off an amazing conference. It may be self-serving for me to be saying how great the NMC Summer Conference is, but I was hooked after my first one in Columbus in 2002– it became my only yearly “must-go” conference for education technology, mainly because it was the only one I went to where I felt like the majority of the attendees were ‘fellow travelers’ (to borrow my bosses words) in the same kind of creative work where I like to live.
And they are just damn fun.
And the legend of this conference’s activities will grow for some time. There will be thousands who may say they were in Cleveland when we know it was really 400. For starters, there was a brilliantly inspiring opening plenary by Brenda Laurel that was just electric, as she shared the methodologies and creative work of her students, where they learn creative design in a pure studio like format, and take their work out into the world. She showed 5 o6 six short videos of the kinds of project designs her students have done.
But that was nothing on the Thursday night party/reception at the Rock and Roll Museum and Hall of Fame. Just being there was a high in terms of my fascination and love of rock music and history. I could have spent all night just soaking in the Bob Dylan exhibit on the top floors. And we had the whole freaking museum reserved just for our conference attendees. But the killer, killer, killer thing was the jam session Tom Knab from Case Western had set up– in the fourth floor auditorium, he had arranged a set up with drums, guitars, keyboard, bass, and attendees were invited to sign up to participate in a performance of about 8-10 songs. I am sure, self included, that many expected this to be a bit like amateur open microphone night. There were a few “real” local musicians on hand, but I have to tell you, that we have plenty of true, musical talent right in our own NCM members. The place got packed, and rocked with great music from the get go. From “Taking Care of Business” to “Hound Dog” to “Gloria” it just plain rocked. But everyone, everyone will talk for a long time on how Tim Svenious from SFMOMA got on stage and was literally channeling Johnny Cash for “Folsom Prison Blues”. It was uncanny. And right behind that was Ed Lamreaux from Bradley belting out a soulful “House of the Rising Sun.” (I humbly strummed some rhythm guitar on that one, excited there was a song I sort of knew– it will be the hight of my musical career just to have sat on stage through a song).
It was literally the best time many of us have ever had at a conference, and we expect there to be a demand that this become an NMC staple.
But there’s more.
We had a fantastic turnout for the Friday night session on Second Life, where we had Giff Constable and Sara Van Gorden from Electric Sheep Company, designers and creators of the NMC Second Life Campus on hand to give an overview, and tour of the NMC Campus. But it was a mix of real and virtual, as we were beaming the video from Giff and others into the NMC Campus, where a bunch of avatars were on hand representing people participating remotely. Unfortunaltey, due to some incredible ineptness of the internet service from our hotel, the video was likely choppy or sputtery. But it was brilliant sitting at the crossroads of real and virtual, and it got even more fun when we wrapped up the session for two more hours of conversation outside the auditorium for our “Beer Bash”.
And these fun events are not meant to over shadow a whole slew of excellent presentations and poster sessions. I’ve been to great NMC COnference before, but judging from the level of electricity among those there, I am not alone in my gushing. The facility of the Peter B Lewis building at Case was inspirational and the tech and logistical support from the folks there was of highest caliber (let’s here it for the blue shirt tech folks!)
For those not there, later this week, we will be posting podcasts from the plenary sessions
I’ve got a few more conference things to write down, but my mind is oatmeal.