Let’s Get NECC’ed

Old Texas MapISTE’s National Education Computing Conference (NECC) 2008 is in full swing in San Antonio.

The Education Technology maven’s tribal gathering is bigger than ever. A sign over the entrance reads “The Worlds Largest Education Technology Exhibit.” That’s a Texas sized ambition.

Here are a few impressions from day one. I’ll write a more detailed analysis after the show closes.

There is a huge amount of energy here. The show floor was thronged until closing and sessions are well attended. Even the Press Suites are jammed. Oddly, the scene on the Riverwalk tonight was a bit subdued (I don’t know if that is because people were tired from a long day or if we just missed the big party).

The electronic whiteboard guys rule the roost. It appears that Promethean (who has the most prominent exhibit at the show) is spending well over $100k just to have staff here. Smart has a big presence as do RM and all of the players in that space.

Meanwhile the computer companies are largely AWOL. Apple doesn’t even have a booth.

Who is making the smarter decision? Are the whiteboard companies making hay while the sun shines or are the computer guys moving all their spending to the web where they can reap the rewards year round rather than over 3 days?

There are still lots and lots of really interesting little companies springing up – ed tech is a lively sector. While education funding may be static or down slightly the ed tech niche is up considerably. This is based on both the number of attendees and the word from vendors.

Am I getting older or is the hall getting noisier? It seemed to me that the noise level is getting ratcheted up as more people do booth theaters with mic’ed presenters. Part of this is just the high level of activity on the show floor, but some of this is an escalating problem that will spell trouble in the long run. Vendors need to have consideration for each other and for their prospects. One large whiteboard vendor that had a huge staff presence (ahem) was making so much noise for most of the day that it was hard to conduct a conversation two aisles over. Ultimately this will drive people outside for some peace and quiet. Oh, and you kids stay off my lawn.

San Antonio’s exhibit hall has a weird layout. It is so long and twisty that it takes forever to get from one end of the show to the other. This didn’t seem to hurt booth traffic, but it did make finding people a real pain in the rear.

So far it is shaping up to be a great show. All Y’all come back and read more about it later.