I find your take on NECC and it being about conversations interesting and tend to agree to the most part. I found a similar experience when I have gone to our local state conference in California CUE. I did quite a bit of learning via connecting with others in the hallways and through conversation. At least for a certain group (those already connected with the content on the web via twitter, blogs, etc) These conversations are a lot more valuable than sitting through a repackaged presentation you can probably find elsewhere.
Now, how would this look in our classrooms? That’s a bit more complicated. We are teaching in a very hostile environment. We are required to “teach” a prescribed curriculum and when our evaluators walk into our classroom they are looking for directed lessons, students under control. But even with this as a requirement I DID find myself going outside the box and allowing MY students to engage in conversation around learning. I still have a long way to go but as I am reminded by fellow elementary school teacher Brian Crosby “Learning is Messy” and it’s just fine by me.