Virtual NECCers

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I know I blogged about Ning not long ago as a pretty powerful tool for creating your own social networks around a topic, idea of theme, but I hadn’t really realised just quite how powerful it is until I joined the NECC Ning, a network organised for the forthcoming conference in Washington.

I joined a group called Virtual NECCErs, a group for those who aren’t going to be at the conference, but want to keep in touch with how it all goes. For the uninitiated, NECC is the National Educational Computing Conference, an annual conference in the USA, and pretty much the biggest ed-tech conference in the world.

Two things have immediately emerged for me.

One is that there’s a big difference between the Ning I created for five of my cycling mates, a couple of whom think that checking the site once a month is web 2.0 in action! and a NING consisting (currently) of 3604 members, most of whom are ‘into’ technology.

The second is that I already feel a small part of the conference, more than I would by scanning their official website and reading the abstracts. I’ve got contacts, can read profiles, blog entries, view photos and it’s all much more personal and connected. A colleague of mine is attending the conference in real life so it’s going to be interesting to compare his experience on the ground with mine watching it from Melbourne.  Don’t get me wrong; I think there’s a lot of value in actually being there, for the contacts and the conversations and the concentrated immersion that you don’t get checking the Ning in front of the evening news in Melbourne, but the remote experience is getting better.

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