I have heard about them for some time and was very intrigued, but had not been able to make it to one as of yet. I am referring to the elusive EdCamp…the “un-conference” for education.
What is an EdCamp you ask? It is a place for educators to get together to share ideas with each other. You automatically think it is a conference, and it appears to be that on the outside. Inside, however, it is much different. When I think of a conference I immediately picture myself sitting in a room while someone is lecturing to me. The interaction is minimal and I often start to drift off if my interest is not “grabbed” within the first few minutes. Even if I am engaged, it is mostly a “sit and get” scenario. The presenter is spitting out information and I am trying to take it all in. While conferences are valuable, they lack an interaction that I am needing when I am trying to learn.
An EdCamp works in a much different way. There are no sessions scheduled until the day of the camp and anyone in attendance is welcome to sign up to lead a session. Sessions can be shares or discussions. It is completely interactive! The person leading the session shares information with the group, but the rest of the group is also asked to share back. You feel as if you are part of the session, not a 3rd person looking on. It keeps me engaged and I feel welcome to share insight however I can.
I attended @EdCampWaller this past weekend and was VERY HAPPY with the results for multiple reasons. I was able to meet up with many key Twitter Peeps that I normally can’t talk to face to face. It was great to meet many of them in person for the first time. Others I may have met once or twice but was now able to get to know on a more personal level. We had great sidebar conversations. We shared thoughts and ideas. @RafranzDavis even went so far as to agree to lead a session with me…a highlight for me for sure!
Along with building stronger relationships with Tweeps I already had connected with I was able to make many new friends that I can now call part of my PLN. This means I will have even more ideas running through my Twitter feed. Plus there are more people to bounce my own ideas off of allowing me to come up with the most effective approach to learning.
The sessions were amazing. You were not learning from one person…you were learning from all of the 30-40 people in the room! Ideas were bouncing around like ping pong balls. One person fed off another and the ideas grew. Those who were experiencing problems were able to talk them through and had a panel to help address their issues. Granted, it was my first edcamp so I have no basis from which to draw comparisons. That being said, I felt the time spent together was very valuable. Many people felt at ease to share. It had a laid back feel, yet was intense in learning.
A special thanks to the #EdCampWaller crew for setting up the entire event. You all did a great job! I am hopeful to return again next year. In the meantime, I am hoping to get to another EdCamp or two to keep the momentum building. If you are interested, here are some EdCamps coming up in Texas.
EdCamp San Antonio (July 15)
EdCamp Fort Worth (July 27)
EdCamp Dallas (Oct 12)