I am now home from the latest National Educational Computing Conference (in San Antonio) and am thinking about some of the highlights for me. I created several blog entries while I was there, so now I am reflecting on my overall experience at that conference. There seemed to be a "conference within the conference" which began with the EduBloggercom event on Saturday, June 28. I had attended in the afternoon in 2007 in Atlanta (after my own morning workshop) which I found to be beneficial. This year, the group voted on the sessions that they wanted to hold, using cell phone texting (but I missed that part of the event), and then used the conference wiki to schedule the events and locations during the day. Some of the discussions were very interesting and worthwhile. I continued to run into many of the participants in the Blogger Cafe throughout the rest of the conference. That was an open space with chairs and tables and electrical power! There were some organized discussions, but more impromptu dialogue.
The conference also set up a Ning group, which I joined, and others invited me to be their friend. However, other than establishing these friend lists, I never saw any direct benefit for joining while I was at the conference. It was fun to see some old friends on the website, but I never saw any of them in person. I realize that I needed to be more pro-active to get something out of that type of social network. I attended my usual conference events and wandered around the vendor floor. I'm just wondering if this use of a Ning group in such a huge conference was just a playground for the attendees who subscribed to get some experience with a social network, or if others got more out of their participation.