I wanted to create this separate posting to acknowledge the insightful, and sometimes provocative, contributions by our Keynote and Spotlight speakers.  In my role at the conference, I was unfortunately not able to attend all of their sessions.  However, I have some thoughts to share.

Ian Jukes inspired most, disappointed a few and downright annoyed at least one individual!  THAT is success in my estimation.  🙂  I heard comments such as: “What a mind-blowing session.”  “I haven’t learned so much for a long time!”  One individual was so very angry about what was perceived to be an offhand, damaging comment regarding ADHD being over-diagnosed.  Ian didn’t mean that the condition doesn’t exist…and I have my own strong opinions about it.  However, I do wish to state here that the individual who was so upset is a phenomenal educator who is the principal of an elementary school.  She has led that school – those students, educators and the community – to heights that are rarely witnessed in our public system.  Her love, passion and advocacy for kids is unsurpassed.  Her passion led her into a confrontation with me and with Ian.  Of course, my passion rose to the challenge…not always a good thing.  I am still learning to harness that energy so as not to escalate situations.  “Regrets, I have a few.”

Alec Couros gave a couple of extremely informative and entertaining sessions about learning and teaching in a networked web 2.0 world. In addition to being inspirational, he provided many practical sites, tools and strategies. Alec is so approachable, so personable and so human.  I think that this what I have appreciated most.  As a side note, I was most delighted that Alec spoke of the ‘openness’ required in school districts…that to lock things down…and to block and filter…were not appropriate actions, or even possible, in this day and age.  He reminded us clearly that students need to learn how to handle the new media responsibly and that it is the work of the school system to help them to achieve that.  How I was chastised in those days for fighting for this position before I took my leave from the school district.

Jutta Treviranus, founder and director of the Adaptive Technology Research Centre engaged her audiences with various technologies and approaches which serve to be inclusive of all citizens. “The overarching goal of the ATRC is to help ensure that emerging information technology and practices are designed inclusively from the very beginning. We define inclusive design as design that enables and supports the participation of individuals and groups representing the full range of human diversity…We are strong advocates of the overlooked principle that people with disabilities should be producers and not only consumers of information, knowledge and culture. Society as a whole is impoverished and deprived if we exclude through action or omission. Inclusion benefits everyone, it should be everyone’s concern and, in this digitally transformed reality that we live and work in – where consumption does not consume and space has no limits – there is no downside to inclusion and it is possible to make room for us all.”

Roger Wagner, dear friend, and pioneer in ‘hypermedia for all’ is known best for his creation of HyperStudio – now, endearingly called Roger Wagner’s HyperStudio.  He not only provided fascinating sessions but dazzled everyone at the Minds On Media day with the convergence of the media technologies that he and his colleagues (Maureen Gross, Rod Rychliski and Sherwood Thompson ) had on hand – ProScope Digital Microscopes, Lumens DC265 video workstation, RJ Cooper adaptive switch device. Wacom tablet, etc.  Impressive!

Mali Bickley and Jim Carleton are Canadian Co-ordinators for iEARN Canada and are award winning educators from Ontario.  They keynoted NECC in 2008 – an audience of many thousand!  They have done many projects with kids internationally – include a Child Soldiers’ project, Machinto, and Adobe Youth Voices.  They, ok ‘we’ (I am on the Canadian Board of Directors for iEARN Canada), are hosting the 17th Annual International iEARN Conference and 14th Youth Summit here in Ontario next July 12 – 17, 2010.  Mark your calendars!!

Photo from the infamous Royal Fondue Society get together at NECC in Washington this past July.

Stephen Downes provided many of us with much intellectual food for thought.  One of his topics – Speaking in Lolcats: What Literacy Means in teh Digital Era – caused many of the conference committee to laugh as we tried to protect the integrity of the spelling in his session title.  Stephen eloquently describes what it means to be literate in such an information age and that it is fundamentally distinct from the literacy of the 3Rs.  He is encouraging us all to look at redefining the core curriculum.  I hope that we don’t have to wait too long for this.

Mark Lipton is an Associate Professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. He makes a compelling argument for developing media literacies in our students and is currently working with the Media Education Project. He distributed many copies of this work to the ECOO delegates.  I am sorry that I did not get to his session, but I heard extremely positive feedback from those in attendance.  Thanks Mark!

Ben Hazzard – you made me laugh so much at the twECOO meetup with your stories of rural life!  Thank you for that!  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to Ben’s session either!  Next time you are presenting, I’ll be sure to find out what you are up to!  Finding the Right Partner: Cross-classroom Collaboration was the focus of his ECOO presentation this year.  Ben has worked hard at some research which has resulted in teachersconnecting.com – a place where K-12 educators can find other educators who wish to connect to have their classes working together.  Hey Ben, thanks for posting your ECOO presentation online!

Thank you to ALL!