The Educator's PLN

The personal learning network for educators

What makes Edcamp popular with teachers?

During the weekend, I attended my fourth #EdcampNYC. I have attended or participated in about a dozen Edcamps nationwide. I think that puts me in a solid position to make a few considered observations on the subject. In the interest of full disclosure, SmartBrief and SmartBlog on Education have supported the Edcamp Foundation during the past year.

The Edcamp movement has been around for a few years. It is a widely known professional-development format that was spawned from social media educator connections. Most connected educators are familiar with it, but most educators are not connected — hence a need for explanation and definition. I know that the model is based on BarCamp in Philadelphia. I have no idea about BarCamp. I know the image I have in my head, but that has nothing to do with education.

I am familiar with the unconference aspect, which is the driving organizing premise of Edcamp. There is no set schedule of sessions provided to participants as they arrive at the venue. There is usually a breakfast spread and a huge amount of coffee in a gathering area to start the day. Participants see a blank schedule displayed for sessions. Session times and rooms are clearly seen, with no descriptions. Session descriptions are created right then, by participants. All sessions are discussion driven. Although some people come with prepared materials to share, those materials might or might not be the focus of a session. Blank cards are available to participants who have a specific topic they want addressed. Each person writes that topic on a card to establish it as a session. Usually, the person proposing the session heads up the discussion. It is amazing how the establishment of one topic spurs the establishment of a related topic, or something on the other side of the education spectrum. The establishment of topics gets people talking about and exploring subjects that they might not have heard of before Edcamp.

The selection of topics stimulates discussion and questioning amid participants to determine where they will go, what they will attend and what they should expect. There is another element to the Edcamp model that is often not seen in other PD formats. Participants are encouraged to quickly assess the relevance of a session. If they do not find personal value in a particular session, they are encouraged to move on to another. When selecting a session to attend, participants need to consider backup alternatives. That is called “The Rule of Two Feet.” My best description of this is that it is a face-to-face, real-time, social media discussion. It is the application of a digital culture in a real-world situation. All sessions are open discussions that are patient with, and respectful of, all participants.

Edcamps are free to participants, but it takes a Saturday commitment to participate. That means educators in attendance are there because they want to be there. We must ask: If this is so popular and inspiring, why aren’t all schools employing this PD model? To answer that, I have to go back to a session for administrators at the last annual ISTE conference. Some founders of Edcamp presented a great session to educate administrators who might not be connected educators. The intent was to explore the possibility of using Edcamp as a source for PD from within the system. Edcamp is almost solely organized by passionate educators working outside the system. There was one question coming from admins repeatedly: “How do we control it?” The answer was clear. You don’t control it! Edcamp’s success is based on trust and respect, as well as a personal drive for professional development. It is the educator’s personalization that some of these administrators did not seem to get. Their questions seemed to indicate that they did not trust the ability of educators to properly determine what they needed in PD.

The Edcamp movement continues to advance with the passionate support of connected individuals. Hopefully, we will begin to hear from progressive-thinking administrators more interested in real education reform than in controlling what and how teachers are developed. Administrators’ control should be second to educators’ development. Edcamp should not be the sole method of PD, but it should be considered a serious addition to tools that develop educators. In our fast-changing, technology-driven culture, we need educators to be continually learning so they provide a relevant education to students. To be better educators, we need to be better learners.

Views: 33

Comment

You need to be a member of The Educator's PLN to add comments!

Join The Educator's PLN

About

Thomas Whitby created this Ning Network.

Latest Activity

Dorothy Hastings posted a blog post

How to Select the Name That Suits Your Little Angel

Choosing your baby’s name can be a very tough experience. A name is a person’s identity and this name helps define the person. . Sometimes it’s easy. Usually, it’s not. Some a lot of discussion and research are required. There’s so much to consider, but the most important thing to remember is to love the name. There are some tips to help you make the right decision.1. Research the Meaning 2. Write Down the Name 3. Say It Aloud4. Check the Spelling5. Is Name Future Ready?6. It’s Okay Not to be…See More
10 hours ago
David Chiles posted a video

Mobile Device (SMART) - Articles of Netiquette

http://www.NetworkEtiquette.net This is a podcast episode of an Article of Netiquette about SMART Mobile Devices. The content is a short description to suppl...
21 hours ago
Eileen Lennon posted a blog post

Lessons from the locker room

I've learned two things since I've joined the gym.One-I thought you just had to join a gym. Nope, you have to keep going to the gym. Over and over.Two-you can't rest when you reach a milestone, you always have to try something harder.When I first walked in, I was pretty overwhelmed. There's lots of complicated machines and scary equipment. Everyone there looks like they know what they're doing and they certainly could beat me up. Needless to say, I felt very out of place.The one smart thing I…See More
23 hours ago
Dorothy Hastings commented on Gemma Gaten's blog post 5 Top Digital Teaching Tools for Educators
"These tools open up many new possibilities for teaching and learning. They also created practical, concrete limits for teachers to navigate in order to communicate and educate their pupils."
yesterday
Julie Petersen shared their blog post on Facebook
Monday
Julie Petersen shared their blog post on Facebook
Monday
Julie Petersen posted a blog post

10 online resources to make studying process both easier and more productive

The Internet has given us an access to thousands of online resources, including a great variety of educational ones. Owing to this both students and educators can get more helpful information and achieve greater results in a short period of time. The following article intends to feature 10 helpful websites, that will help you improve your studying.1. …See More
Monday
Gemma Gaten posted a blog post

5 Top Digital Teaching Tools for Educators

Technology runs almost every area of our lives in various forms. We embrace technology not only at home, at work but even in schools. Incorporating new technologies into the classroom is the latest trend in this digital age. Thus, many educators have evolved their practice and now using new teaching style to promote good…See More
Thursday

Awards And Nominations

© 2015   Created by Thomas Whitby.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service