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Bars and Bowling Draw NECC Crowds

Here's another report from our intern and guest blogger Tim Ebner:

Techies hit the town last night, spilling out of the NECC conference at the Washington Convention Center and into the many bars and clubs that hosted off-site networking parties throughout the city. These social happy hours provided a less formal environment, where educators could enjoy a drink, or two, and connect with fellow attendees.

Most of the events happened in and around Chinatown. There was an ISTE sponsored tweet-up at a basement watering hole called Rocket Bar, a Schoolnet reception at Madame Tussauds museum of wax, and a Gaggle.net party at the trendy K Street Lounge.

Each of the events had strong turnouts, including the Google Apps party at Lucky Strike Lanes, a bowling alley, bar, and lounge. Believe it or not, Google is a NECC newbie this year, and Jeff Keltner, Business Development Manager with Google, hopes the company will continue to have a presence at these and other K-12 events.

For years, Google’s applications have been mostly targeted at the higher education, but company reps say they notice a growing demand for application tools for the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Many teachers have already found free and convenient ways as well to collaborate and connect with their students.

Google wants to better target its tools for K-12 educational use, and launched a Google Apps Education Community site for educators to share tips and ideas about using application tools in the classroom. The company's Search Education Curriculum and the Apps Education Resource Center currently have about two dozen different classroom-ready lesson plans.

Jason Levy, a principal at Bronx I.S. 339, has found that online applications have helped bridge communication barriers at his middle school, which is a 1-to-1 MacBook school.

“We started using Google applications by giving our teachers G-Mail accounts,” he said. “But now, class assignments and administrative meetings are run through online networks. From an administrative viewpoint, it makes sense to have the apps because they open lines of communication and transparency.” Levy pointed out that it’s technology that has helped teachers and learners in his middle school work together more effectively, and built students’ motivation to learn and excel in the classroom.

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