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Monday, July 09, 2007

From ALA to NECC, part two

In my last post, I wrote about Tutor.com's events, panels, reception, awards, and exhibit at the ALA annual conference in DC. Exhilarating,
I left DC and ALA after 2 days, a little earlier than usual (leaving a very competent team of 10 or so Tutor.com people to take care of ALA events), in order to spend a couple days in Atlanta at NECC -- the National Educational Computing Conference. Unlike ALA, NECC was an exploratory mission for me. No big Tutor.com staff, exhibit booth, or well planned events. Just me -- exploring partnership opportunities, talking with educators, and participating in the coolest event at NECC -- Tabula Digita's multi-player educational game tournament.

Tutor.com was a sponsor of the first annual tournament, and it was a great event. Thirteen teens from across the country, finalists from smaller tournaments, gathered in Atlanta for a shoot-em-up video game tournament with a twist -- Tabula Digita's software tests game players' algebra and other math skills while they're shooting their way through a landscape and collecting points, competing with other networked players in real-time. Three 5-minute tournament rounds on a high-tech stage, in front of a crowd of 200 or so. While shooting, players (learners) are solving slope equations and the crowd anxiously watches as time runs out.

It was fun to watch, sponsor, and be a part of. The kids were excited, and the crowd was really involved, cheering their favorite players on. Tutor.com sponsored the tournament alongside Apple, ISTE, the Atlanta Braves (tough for this Mets fan), and others. Winners and finalists received Apple products, Braves tickets, and Tutor.com Direct time for one-to-one live tutoring in math or any other subject.

Tabula Digita's tournament was a real draw, and the rest of NECC was productive too. As I walked the exhibit floor slowly, learning about new educational companies and products, I was impressed and pleasantly surprised by the variety of innovations in instructional software, teacher and community tools, and an array of new and growing companies offering new education solutions. Now we've got to figure out how to partner with the best of these companies -- hundreds of opportunities to sift through -- so we can work with them to bring live one-to-one tutoring into the homes and lives of millions of students.

George Cigale, gcigale@tutor.com

Pictures above: 1) Tournament finalists with sponsors and Tabula Digita founder and CEO in front of the tournament stage, 2) second place winner and me, and 3) first place winner and me.