Last year I was fortunate enough to be able to attend NECC for the first time. I barely had a half dozen people in my professional learning learning network (PLN) at the time, but by the end of the conference that number had grown to include a variety of people from around the country. Over the last nine months, I have created an amazing network that has taught me so much. In December I learned that my proposal to present a poster at NECC had been accepted. I started asking around to see who from my PLN was attending. The responses were disappointing. It soon became evident that many people were not going to be able to attend this year due to both personal and school budget constraints. I started feeling guilty because I was going to get to experience this amazing conference again. It hardly seemed fair that I was able to attend twice when there are so many people who have not ever attended once.
An idea for a project started to come together in my mind. I started wondering how much a PLN could accomplish if it came together to work toward a common goal. What if we came together to help send one of our own to NECC? Would it be possible to get several hundred people to donate a few dollars each to help send a “newbie” to NECC? My PLN is by far the most powerful tool in my toolbox, but there are some who are still skeptical of the idea of the power of social networks. The purpose of this project is twofold. First, I want to see someone who truly deserves to go to NECC get to go. Second, I want to raise awareness about the benefits of professional networking. I want us to show all of the doubters out there that social networking tools can make a difference in education.
I shared this idea with a teacher in my PLN named Jason Schrage (@oswego98). With his help I decided that Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) was the “newbie” that I wanted to send to NECC. Richard is a Social Studies teacher in Maine who has worked tirelessly to help ensure his students and coworkers are able to work on a network that is as open as possible. He also maintains a blog called Free Tech 4 Teachers that recently won the 2008 Edublog Award for the Best Resource Sharing Blog. Mr. Byrne is a top notch educator who invests countless hours in compiling resources for teachers in all subject areas. He is truly a selfless educator who deserves the chance to attend NECC. Richard is far from being a “newbie” when it comes to using technology in the classroom, but he has never attended NECC.
Richard has told me that he wants to share his experiences while he is in Washington DC. He will be blogging and updating on Twitter to keep everyone informed about what he is experiencing. I imagine he will probably be open to streaming video once in a while when he is able to do so. If you have any suggestions for how to share this special event with the folks who could not attend please leave a comment on this blog.
So what do you say? Are you willing to donate a few dollars to help one of our own? I also need your help to spread the word about this project. Please tag any tweets associated with this project with the hash tag #neccnewbie so we can track the conversation. The goal is to raise $1500. Please add your information to the spreadsheet. You do not have to add your information, but it would be great to see the names of everyone who helps with this very unique and special project.
Donations are being collected using PayPal which is a fast, easy, and secure way to send funds online. All donations will go directly to Richard’s PayPal account. In the unlikely event that we do not raise enough funds you can elect to have your donation sent back to you or allow Mr. Byrne to put the donations toward improving his classroom. You can mark your option on the spreadsheet.
(Please note that this is a private endeavor which is not associated or endorsed by ISTE or NECC. )