Vendors at NECC 2009

A few hours ago I read Lee Kolbert's blog entry about vendors at NECC 2009. I wanted to comment, but worried that my comment would be too long. I decided to respond and piggyback on her entry with my own!

As a 'Newbie' to NECC, I had heard mixed things about the Exhibit floor. "Don't waste your time," some said, "they're just salespeople." "Check it out," other said, "you can learn about new and upcoming technologies and get free stuff!" I decided to meet them somewhere in the middle by visiting a few booths, but trying not to get stuck listening to a sales pitch.

I found the Exhibit floor to be worth the small amount of time I spent there (about 1 1/2 hours over 2 days). I checked in with the Discovery Education booth where I met people who work closely with my school district. A colleague (Tracey McGrath) had brought me to the booth recommending that I become a Discovery Star Educator, which I am working on as I write this blog entry. We have a license in Philadelphia for Discovery Streaming, which allows you to access Discovery Education's huge library of videos available for download and streaming for members. While I did not sit for a presentation, as a user of Discovery Streaming, I know what a great resource it is for teachers. This vendor was providing a great resource to NECC 09 attendees.

I also stopped by the Tech4Learning booth, where a presentation had just started. It was led by a real teacher who not only introduced us to the various softwares (Pixie, Frames, Twist, Image Blender, and more), but showed us examples of student work from her classroom using some of these tools. I have been trying to find an alternative to KidPix for the last 2 years, and by visiting the Tech4Learning booth, I now have a software that I fell in love with (Pixie) and can now present to the district as a new tool for the classroom. Tech4Learning also has tons of online resources as well as an online community for users of their products. Plus, after sitting through a short presentation, I was awarded a CD with free licenses to 5 of their software products!

I also attended sessions with SMART and sat in on a Promethean presentation. Both of these sponsors added content to the conference by stoking the fires of imagination about what can be done with Interactive White Boards in the classroom.

While these are just some of the examples of booths that I visited, I have to agree with Lee that vendors have something to offer NECC (ISTE 2010 next year). That is NOT to say that ALL vendors added something to the conference. What I think would be useful for 2010 is the ability for attendees to rate vendors based on certain criteria. For example: quality of presentations, interaction with attendees, relevance to ed tech and whether they add anything to the conversation and dialogue about ed tech at the conference.

If you did not visit the Exhibit floor in 2009 and are leery of vendors, please take 30 minutes in 2010 to check it out!

Please leave comments about vendors or tell me about some vendors I missed and should have checked out!

Thanks to Lee Kolbert for the thoughtful commentary that started me thinking about corporations and ed tech!


  • Hi,
    Thanks for following up your comments to my post in your blog. I particularly like your angle where you give your readers something to take away from the vendor hall to research further. You gave some examples of some terrific products that I'll be checking out. Thanks for posting and helping me learn.


  • I didn't spend as much time in the exhibit hall as I would have liked. I didn't watch any presentation, but I did give a short one at the netTrekker booth. Basically, I talked about how I use the product with my students. These are the types of things I think are beneficial to attendees. I also had some friends presenting in the Smart booth as well. It's not a sales person or a rep from the company, it's a teacher, like me, telling the product can be used with the students. I hope there is more of this in the future.

  • Lee: I look forward to learning from you and I will definitely be following what you're up to!

    IMC Guy: It sounds like you're exactly what the vendor area needs! I wish I could have made it to the netTrekker booth. I have used it in the past, but I am rusty on all that it can offer.

    Thanks for checking out the blog, guys!

    Mary Beth

  • Hi Mary Beth,
    I read Lee Kolbert's blog and commented on it. Since I checked the box that notifies me when others comment, I was directed to your response. You made a smart choice to pen your own post instead of commenting of Lee's because you do indeed have a lot to say about vendors.

    I was attending my third NECC this year and didn't spend more than a couple of hours in the vendors' hall. I attended several Promethean sessions because that is the IWB that is being installed in my classroom this summer and I wanted to see real teachers using it and the voting devices. Since I use so many free Web 2.0 tools, I didn't see any need to visit vendors who were there to hawk their software products. I am sorry I didn't visit the Discovery booth because I just became a STAR and had attended a pre-NECC day at their headquarters in Silver Springs.

    Thank you for adding to the conversation about the part vendors should play at conventions like NECC.

  • PNaugle,

    I wonder if the vendors were structured differently, or perhaps labeled as "STAR Educator" or with some kind of title that it would help attendees understand better who they are talking to.

    I am going to apply to be a Discovery STAR Educator in August (to allow for the 60 days to plan my first event). Do you have an comments, tips, advice or reflections on the experience?

    Mary Beth

  • Mary Beth, the two events I held were a training session for teachers at my school on how to find video clipa and images tied to our state grade level expectaions on the Discovery streaming site and i hosted a local group for the DEN First Annual Geocaching Day. They give you a lot of leeway on what they consider an event. The DEN website is good at leading you through the process step by step once you get started.

    Keep me iformed of your progress and let me know if you need any other advice.

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