NECC decides to take control

It is a sad day in Ed Tech Land. ISTE’s National Education Computing Conference (NECC) leaders have decided that in order to record any sessions they must give permission – the presenter must also give permission. Whoa! The time machine travel has taken me back to Mrs. Feland’s 5th grade classroom where she ruled with an iron fist – as did most elementary teachers in the 1950’s. Right … the 1950’s.

Just when I was starting to have some hope that one of the larger organizations was seeing the importance of opening up control, overcoming their fears, and encouraging an egalitarian approach to teaching and learning … the hope is gone. A few months ago I was sharing my plan to begin my involvement in professional organizations at the national level – my colleague said, “Don’t get involved with ISTE.” I blew off that advice … now I’m reconsidering.

I’m wondering who made this decision. Why was this decision made? What will change their minds? I know that my Twitter network was hopping mad yesterday. Many folks will not be presenting or attending NECC 2009 if this policy stays in effect. Miguel Guilin encouraged his readers to email Don Knezek, ISTE CEO, and Leslie Connery, Deputy CEO and Conference Chair for ISTE, with their thoughts. Here is my email:

Dear Don and Leslie,

As a 30-year veteran of teaching and learning and a NECC 2008 presenter, I am saddened at NECC’s leadership decision to “strictly prohibited” the full video/audio capture of NECC sessions and activities without the “express permission from BOTH: 1) the session presenter(s), and 2) ISTE.”

This is a huge leap backward in the current global movement of open learning and the development of personal learning networks. In addition, this policy is tantamount to a college dean informing her faculty that they will be required to lecture in all classes; no distance learning, no collaboration, no constructivism, no learner-control. Only the teacher has access and control over the information. In other words, a tactic sentencing teachers and learners to 19th Century education practices.

This decision produces several problems:

  • Why did we receive this information a week before the conference? This type of information should have been on the application and the speaker’s agreement, not a knee-jerk reaction to a grassroots movement of open teaching and learning.
  • Who are you to tell me, a seasoned professional, whether or not I can or cannot record my own session – one for which I am not being remunerated by NECC or ISTE. Even my university does not subscribe to tell me how I can share my course information or research.
  • This policy, as stated above, will have an isolating impact – only those who attend in person, having paid their fees, will be privy to the presentations. Rather than extending the conference globally through Web 2.0 communication tools and enabling collaboration, the result will be a walled garden, much like K-12 environments where administrators, IT directors, teachers, and parents are too fearful of opening up opportunities for meaningful learning.
  • Many people will remove their support from ISTE and NECC – expect a reduction in attendees, presenters, and support next year. I know that I will not be presenting or attending NECC 2009 and I will be sharing this decision with my colleagues and students.

ISTE has emphasized the application and use of NETS-S and NETS-T to help students, teachers, and educational systems move into the 21st Century. In this light, I strongly suggest that the leadership take those standards and decide how this latest NECC policy fits.

Last, I must say that if this is a monetary decision – trying to make sure that no one has access to the conference without paying, or motivating people to come to NECC so they can increase the revenue – it is a travesty! ISTE and NECC are services, not for-profit ventures. Please remember this as you revisit this poorly developed policy.

I know that you are both receiving a barrage of email messages regarding this topic. I only hope that you see the importance of removing the restrictions.

In the spirit of open teaching and learning opportunities,

Dr. Cheri A. Toledo
Assoc. Professor – Educational Technology
Illinois State University

Now what?

  1. You can send your thoughts and responses to: Don Knezek:  dknezek@iste.org and Leslie Connery: lconery@iste.org
  2. Read Miguel’s post and Wesley Fryer’s post
  3. Decide where you stand and make it public – post on your own blog, comment on this blog, Miguel’s or Wesley’s blogs

I think NECC’s policy will result in more conferences that are non-organizational in nature. More like EduCon 2.0 and the Future of Education.

Where do we go from here? Let’s decide for ourselves.

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