My first EdCamp was #EdCampSav earlier this year. I was determined to just observe, so naturally I joined in and presented something on Twitter. I went from 0-60 in about the first five minutes I was there. And I find it cute how I intended today at #EdCampATL to just observe again. Because I again pulled an idea out of the corner of my mind and was presenting something on MOOCs for your Professional Development by 9:00AM. I clearly am a poor judge of my own tendencies. On a preventive note, I cannot accompany you to the casino or any buffet.

If you have not yet participated in an EdCamp the idea is an un-conference. The attendees are the pool for group talks on subjects of interest to them; there’s sharing, more of a dialogue and questions are encouraged. No pre-planned presentations – you’ll notice what I shared were just Evernotes which I pulled together in 5-10 minutes and tweeted out during/after I shared.

So how can that logistically be pulled together so quickly you may ask? The same way teachers have been accomplishing things for centuries, Post-it notes. The organizers provide a matrix of places and times and participants fill out a Post-it note and select a place and time slot.

edcampatl schedule board

…And then you start to see if there is something that you feel lead to lend to the conversation…

edcampatl tweets

This EdCamp offered 25 or 50 minutes sessions – I think shorter is better, BECAUSE everyone is encouraged to vote with their feet at EdCamp. What that means is when the session is no longer meaningful to you or adding to your knowledge you are expected to move on.

Your hunch is right, this takes a bit of reinforcement with polite, kind, considerate educators. After all our degrees are practically “I sat through four+ years of sit-and-get lectures to prove I can last through any faculty/parent-teacher conference meeting you can dream up,” and teachers have a little unlearning to do in that department. I sometimes amuse myself imagining if teachers did that during a traditional faculty meeting, oh my, but I digress.

As the board fills up a volunteer makes a sharable document of the EdCamp Schedule which shows both the overall schedule and the sessions. This is great for planning your next move between, and maybe during sessions. The EdCamps I have attended offer a light breakfast, a welcome session, mostly morning teacher-led sessions, then a lunch, a smackdown/prizes, and a closing session. Both which I have attended are at schools, which provides large displays, seating, a large meeting area like a gym and outlets for charging.

What were the super-duper winners for me?

  • I felt good about my information about MOOCs, there’s something there. I only mean the information is something teachers are hungry for – I need to do a better job of sharing that.
  • Megan Hayes Golding, @mgolding, is a source for all things blogging. I want to follow (stalk) her on Twitter and then pepper her with more questions.
  • People are still paying money to contractors for services some of my colleagues and I could provide – not sure how I feel about that…
  • Things like Flipped Learning are of interest to many educators, but I think we are all sharing the discrete ways in which one or two of us are doing it. Nothing wrong with how you are doing it, but instead of looking at one version and trying to scale up to your classroom, what about starting broadly with just blended learning and letting many educators fit under that umbrella? I am guessing it is because teachers crave the one right way. That is consistent with a pet peeve I have; I can only assume it is bothers me because I must do it in some situations, so no judgement, just an observation @SoontobeEdD and talked through as we left.
  • I cemented a connection there with @amyvitala who I only knew through social media up until yesterday. For education (my husband assures me) this is a unique experience, being delighted mid-session that the person you are tweeting is 10 feet from you and you are just meeting.
    Interestingly, Amy is starting up an EdCamp in her county a bit over a month from now – I am hopeful I will learn enough to help launch one in North Georgia – SOON!

Thanks #EdCampATL


Loosely related …

I tried several times to complete a post after ISTE and it is still sitting in my drafts. I thought perhaps my ISTE take-aways were too cynical and maybe it was because my usual group of ISTE conference goers were still on our “home turf” and not in that altered (more open, more receptive, more teamish) conference state of (learning) mind. However, when I compare today’s EdCamp event with this year’s ISTE experience I find many of those factors similar between the situations, and should have expected similar results. If anything, my expectations of ISTE this year were higher than my expectations of today’s EdCamp – and still I felt more professionally satisfied with today’s EdCamp than I did with my ISTE experience. I hope this is just an anomaly for ISTE as I have enjoyed ISTEs 2011-2013 so much in the past.